If you’ve been led to believe that snacking is a “no-no” if you want to stick to a healthy diet, it will surprise you to learn that snacking is encouraged on the Osteoporosis Reversal Program
You see, at the Save Institute we heartily approve the consumption of bone-healthy snacks. In fact, between-meal eating (in moderation, of course) actually serves important nutritional purposes, such as stabilizing blood sugar, increasing energy, and providing a bone-building nutritional boost.
However, with very few exceptions, most snack foods found in stores are unhealthy “junk foods” that don’t add nutritional value to your diet. The solution is to make your own bone-smart snacks, which can be a fun, simple, and delicious endeavor with recipes like the ones I share with you today.
These recipes are not only packed with bone-renewing nutrients; they are also naturally sweet to satisfy sugar cravings without overindulgence in the “white stuff.” And for Savers north of the equator, there’s an added bonus: these energy bars are no-bake, so you can avoid the hot oven in the summer heat!
First, I’d like to discuss some of the unhealthy ingredients found in most store-bought energy bars so you’ll understand why making your own is so much better for your bones and your health.
What’s In That Boxed “Energy” Bar?
Many commercially available, packaged bars are little more than candy bars disguised as health food. Here are a few ingredients commonly found lurking in your typical energy bar.
Hydrogenated/Partially hydrogenated oils, are frequently found in shelf-stable foods like granola/energy/breakfast bars. These altered forms of oil – also known as trans fats – have no place in a bone-healthy diet. The hydrogenation process converts liquid oil into a solid at room temperature, but it also changes the oil into a free radical, especially if the oil is partially hydrogenated.
The way this happens is through the process of hydrogenation, which changes the fat on a molecular level, moving one of the hydrogen atoms to the other side of the carbon atoms that make up the fat. These are the trans fats that are produced as a by-product of the hydrogenation process.
The human body does not know how to metabolize this form of fat, so it causes all sorts of trouble throughout the body, including inflammation that damages bones.
High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and other forms of corn syrup find their way into many commercial bars. A cheap form of quick energy and sweetening, HFCS is made from corn (obviously), and most corn crops are genetically modified. The process by which HFCS is manufactured involves a variety of chemicals. Here’s a brief rundown of how it works.
Corn starch is acidified to break up the carbohydrates within it, but to protect it from enzymes that would degrade the carbohydrates, it’s exposed to mercuric chloride, which inhibits the action of starch-degrading enzymes present in the corn starch. Then, enzymes that can withstand high temperatures (alpha-amylase, glucoamylase, and xylose isomerase) are added so the extracted sugars will be converted into fructose. The solution is then demineralized and passed through activated carbon filters.
Given the extensive number of steps involves in the processing of HFCS, it’s a wonder that it’s so cheap!
Emulsifiers, usually polysorbate 80 and/or carboxymethylcellulose, are often added to processed energy bars to extend shelf life and improve texture. But research warns strongly of the effects emulsifiers may have on human gut microbes.
In mice, these common emulsifiers promoted intestinal disorders such as colitis, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and even colon cancer.1,2
A healthy gut is essential for strong bones, and healthy gut microbes play a direct role in bone health. For more on the connection between the two, I invite you to read the following post:
Homemade Energy Bars Are Much Healthier (And Easy To Make)!
Clearly, there are some very questionable if not downright harmful ingredients in commercial energy bars. But you don’t have to give them up altogether; the following recipes will show you how to make your own delicious versions that pack a big nutritional punch. And, as mentioned earlier, you don’t need to even turn the oven on.
Golden Chia-Apricot Bars
Makes 1 dozen bars
With a subtle crunch from the chia seeds, these bars are full of alkalizing sweetness from dates and apricots.
- 1 cup whole, pitted dates
- 1 cup dried apricots
- 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- Blend dates, apricots, and cinnamon in a blender or food processor until the mixture forms a cohesive mass.
- Add the pumpkin seeds and chia seeds and pulse until the pumpkin seeds are broken into pieces.
- Press the mixture into a square pan (8”x8” or 9”x9”) lined with parchment paper.
- Place pan in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes before cutting into squares.
Makes 8 bars
Cherries and dark chocolate are a natural combination, giving these bars a true decadent taste.
- 1 cup raw almonds
- ⅓ cup raw walnuts
- 1 ½ cups dried cherries
- 4 or 5 whole, pitted dates
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Generous pinch of cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips
- Grind or pulse the almonds and walnuts in a blender or food processor until they are in pieces about the size of barley grains.
- Add the dates, vanilla, and cinnamon and blend until a cohesive mass forms. Gently pulse in the chocolate chips and cherries.
- Place the mixture on a sheet of wax or parchment paper; cover with another sheet. Use a rolling pin to press the mixture out into a half-inch thick rectangle.
- Remove the paper from the top of the mixture, and cut it into bars. These can be kept at room temperature or in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Spiced Nutty Pumpkin Bars
Makes 8 bars
Crunchy nuts and pumpkin puree create a bone-smart way to enjoy spiced pumpkin pie flavor.
For the bars:
- 1 cup whole, pitted dates
- ½ cup whole, raw almonds
- 2 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened, shredded coconut
- ½ cup vanilla whey powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, or ⅛ teaspoon each cloves, dried ginger, and nutmeg
- ¼ cup pumpkin purée
For the topping:
- 2 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut
- 2 tablespoons chopped, raw almonds
- In a food processor or blender, whirl all ingredients until they form a smooth batter.
- Spread and press the batter into an 8”x8” square baking pan lined on the bottom with parchment paper.
- Sprinkle the batter with the topping ingredients and press them in.
- Place in the freezer for 2 ½ – 3 hours; when solid, cut into bars. Keep these stored in the freezer or refrigerator.
Snacks Are Included In The Save Our Bones Nutritional Plan
In addition to more than 200 bone-smart recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the Save Our Bones recipe book, Bone Appétit, includes a 30 Day Meal Planner, which gives you daily snacks and corresponding recipes.
Eat Your Way to Stronger Bones!
Discover over 200 mouth-watering bone healthy recipes for breakfast, smoothies, appetizers, soups, salads, vegetarian dishes, fish, and plenty of main courses and even desserts!
Remember, snacks are an excellent, natural way of giving your body as many food-based nutrients as possible. So go ahead and enjoy bone-smart snacking!
And feel free to share your thoughts on these recipes and your favorite snacks by leaving a comment below.
Till next time,
1 Georgia State University. “Common food additive promotes colon cancer in mice.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 November 2016. Web. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161107110639.htm
2 Benoit Chassaing, et al. “Dietary emulsifiers impact the mouse gut microbiota promoting colitis and metabolic syndrome.” Nature. 92-96. (2015). Web. 10.1038/nature14232