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Unjunked Blueberry Nutri Grain Bars

A few days ago, I asked for recipes you’d like to see healthier “unjunked” versions of. Several of you said your kids love Nutri Grain bars, so here’s a healthier version. Before coming up with this recipe, I read up on the ingredients in real Nutri Grain bars, and it’s shocking – here’s that post. It’s really appalling that these can be advertised as a “healthy” snack – they are horribly processed, sugar-laden junk. Don’t feel bad if you were duped by their healthy marketing – I had no idea just how unhealthy these bars actually are until I started reading and looking up words. My version does not taste exactly like a Nutri Grain bar, but it also doesn’t call for 8 types of sugar, artificial flavors, and petroleum based coloring.

These bars have a great consistency – the crust isn’t crumbly and messy, the filling gels together, and they taste really good. My toddler giggled like a maniac when I gave her one – she loves these, and I do, too. They’re also much more filling than regular Nutri Grain bars because they have some protein from almonds and real fiber from whole wheat and rolled oats. These also don’t have any refined sugars – just honey and blueberries. It’s a snack you can feel good about.


The recipe calls for frozen blueberries because they’re what I had. Frozen conventional blueberries also have significantly less pesticide residues than their fresh counterparts, so if you can’t find or can’t afford organic, conventional frozen is a great option. Obviously fresh would work, too. If you want a faster option, you might want to try some good store-bought jam or a simple uncooked puree of dried fruit (like apricots or figs and a splash of water). I like the kinds that are sweetened with fruit juice instead of sugar.

Printable Version Here

Unjunked Blueberry Nutri Grain Bar Recipe

Filling
1 12 oz bag frozen blueberries (2 c. thawed)
1/2 c. raw honey
4 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. lemon zest

*I made the filling the night before assembling these because it was easier that way.

*Before you start making the filling, put a small plate in your freezer. If you’ve never made jam before, the freezer plate will help you gauge when your jam is finished.  If you cook the jam until it looks just like jam, it will burn or be way too firm after if cools. This is very lazy jam without all the the things you’re “supposed” to use: refined sugar, pectin, and a thermometer. But it works, as long as you have a cold plate. If you dab some jam on the cold plate, tilt it, and the jam runs, it’s not finished. If the jam stays in place, you’re done.

1. Bring blueberries, honey, lemon juice, and zest to a boil, smashing them with a potato masher or the back of a spoon as you go. Don’t worry about smashing all of the berries – some blueberry texture is nice.
2. Reduce heat to medium and stir frequently so it doesn’t burn, cooking until the mixture reduces and thickens. This took me 14 minutes. You’ll know when it’s done when the mixture “sets” (and doesn’t drip) on the plate from the freezer.
3. Remove and cool. It will thicken as it cools.



Crust
1/4 c. almonds
1 c. oats
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
dash cinnamon
pinch of kosher salt
1 egg
1/2 c. milk
1/8 c. coconut oil, melted
1/8 c. honey (increase a bit if your kids are addicted to regular Nutri Grain bars)

1. Puree the almonds in a food processor or blender.
2. Add oats, flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Pulse until mixed.
3. Add egg, milk, coconut oil, and honey. Pulse again.
4. Chill the dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
5. Divide the dough in half and on a silpat or some parchment paper, roll one half as thin as you can in as rectangle-ish a shape as you can manage. The dough will seem kind of dry and heavy compared to pie crust but it works beautifully as a sturdy crust.
6. This is easiest if you get another sheet of parchment paper to roll the other half, matching the first half size as closely as you can.
7. Spread the fruit over the first crust and flip the second crust on top. Seal the edges by loosely pressing down on them.
8. Bake at 325 until the edges are lightly browned and the top feels firm. This took me about 20 minutes, but my oven is a little quirky. Just keep an eye on them.
9. Let it cool and slice into bars in whatever size you like. A pizza cutter works beautifully.

Enjoy!


   

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