These bars are delicious. They are full of good things but low in added sugar and added fats. They’re packed with natural fruit, nuts and grains so they could be called an ‘energy’ bar. But my real motivation was to create an intense cholesterol-busing snack bar. Using the NHS Choices website as inspiration I have included foods high in unsaturated fat, such as groundnut oil, nuts and seeds and foods high in fibre, such as, dried and fresh fruit, wheat germ, oat bran and oats. Oats in particular are reported to be beneficial to lowing cholesterol, I imagine oats rather like a sponge travelling through the gut mopping up all that bad cholesterol as it carries it away as waste. Other reports suggest chocolate (in moderation) promotes good cholesterol and reduces bad cholesterol. Using cacao nibs increases fibre and has no added sugar or fat. There is saturated fat in cacao but most of this is stearic acid which does not raise bad cholesterol levels.
Chocolate Snack Bars
- Time: 45 minutes
- Serves: 8
- Level: easy
What you need
Mix and match to suit your taste.
My handful is approximately a third to half a cup or 80-100ml
2 handfuls of:
Rolled jumbo oats
1 handful of:
Wheat germ (from health food stores)
Oat bran (from health food stores)
Cocoa nibs (from health food stores)
Half a handful of:
Chopped dark chocolate
Chopped macadamia nuts
4 tbs apple juice
2 ripe bananas
1 tbs groundnut oil
1 tbs butter
2 tbs light muscovado sugar
How Dad Cooked It
- Recipes for energy bars are usually made with a large amount of added sugar, honey or other sweeteners such as golden syrup. I am after a cholesterol-busting ‘hit’ rather than high energy, so my recipe makes bars are sweet enough for me. By all mean adjust the amount of sugar to suit your taste.
- Recipes for energy bars also use a large amount of added fat. This helps combine the ingredients, but most importantly fat acts a lubricant – without it, all those wholesome granular bits will taste like cardboard and sawdust. I have used bananas as a replacement for much of the fat. For extra flavour, I have used half butter in the total added fat. The butter is a saturated fat but it is a tiny amount shared among the bars.
- The solidity of the bars is helped by adding both sugar and fat. In order to reduce both, my bars have a slight crumble, but still stick together well.
- To cook or not to cook? There are recipes for both. Syrup and honey can be used for non-cooked bars. But sugar needs to be cooked out. Non-cooked bars rely on the stickiness and hopefully low tackiness and high viscosity of the sweet syrups at room temperature. Cooking seems to bind the ingredients into a more solid and less sticky bond at room temperature. Cooking is also essential when using bananas.
- Preheat an oven to 180C, Gas 4.
- Line a square baking tin (23cm x 23cm) with baking parchment.
- Put all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix.
- Put the wet ingredients into a pan and heat gently. Mash the bananas and let them cook down until they are smooth.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Transfer to the baking tin, press and pack the ingredients down well. Finish with an even and flat surface. Cook for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. Cut into squares.