Balance Bars

Here’s an ingredient you may never have thought to include in your baking: This ingredient has a mild flavour on it’s own and the addition of it into your baked goods will transform your baking into sources of protein and fibre that will help sustain your families through long days. They are easily hidden into recipes and picky kids will be none the wiser. Can you guess what the secret, nourishing ingredient is? BEANS are the perfect sneaky addition to your baking that will kick up your baking a notch for dense, filling treats that boast high nutritional value. There are plenty of different types of beans and recipes that you can experiment with. Including beans in your baking and snacks to provide for the kids will help keep their energy levels sustained so they can stay active and feel good!

snack

With Summer on it’s way, there are plenty of days in the Sun ahead. Road trips, camping trips, family getaways and the like make for long days where we want to keep our families feeling good and enjoying every moment. We can avoid the HANGRY monster that lives in all of us by choosing to eat balanced snacks that are full of protein and fibre which make beans the perfect ingredient to add to our diets.

The concept of being hangry stems from an instability with our blood sugar levels. This can occur from going too long in between having a bite to eat and the crash that is sure to follow after blood sugar spike. Our blood sugar can rapidly spike for many reasons – such as indulging in unbalanced, processed or refined snacks devoid of fibre, protein and healthy fats that help slow down the release of sugar into the blood stream. The crash that follows is what leaves us feeling irritable, grumpy, tired can contribute to anxiety and general short temperedness. The brain is dependent on glucose (the simple sugars our food is reduced to) for energy. Allowing our blood sugar to get too low will create sugar cravings and can lead to bad cycles of spikes and crashes if we are choosing the wrong foods to fuel us. Long term, this can lead to weight gain, illnesses such as insulin resistance and diabetes.

Fortunately, we have a tasty solution full of fibre and protein that will help slow down the release of the sugars into the blood keep us feeling good with lots of sustainable energy so we can make the most of Summer!

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Here is one of my favourite recipes that I make ahead and keep on hand for early mornings, long afternoons and a wholesome satisfying snack on the go:  These bars are full of fibre and protein from the beans, healthy fats and plenty of whole food goodness. They are free of common allergens so those who have sensitivities or allergies can still enjoy.

Balance Bars:
Ingredients:

1 tablespoon Chia Seeds
3 ¼ cup rolled oats – ensure they are gluten free if there is a gluten sensitivity
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt

1 ½ cups of cooked white navy beans, rinsed and drained – there are a few varieties and any will work. I use navy beans
¼ cup coconut oil, gently melted
¼ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/3 cup dried cranberries or apricots (unsulfured is best if you can find it – the Sulfur Dioxide is the preservatives that keeps the colours in dried fruit bright. Unsulfured won’t look as brightly coloured but it’s better to avoid the preservative)
¼ cup high quality dark chocolate chips (optional but tasty!)
¼ cup roughly chopped almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Make your chia mixture: This acts an alternative for an egg as eggs are becoming more of a common allergen. Mix the 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoon of water and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes to gelatinize.
  3. Pulse half of the oats in a high speed blender or food processor until it becomes a rough flour.
  4. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl: all of the oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  5. In a blender, combine the white beans with all of the wet ingredients: Coconut oil, maple syrup, unsweetened apple sauce, vanilla extract.
  6. Combine the wet and dry ingredients in the large mixing bowl and stir until everything is fully incorporated.
  7. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix until fully incorporated. You can get creative with the last three ingredients and try different combinations of dried fruit and nuts and seeds.
  8. Press firmly onto the baking sheet and cut into bar shapes, spreading out slightly so all edges of the bars can cook evenly. Cook for 15-18 minutes or until the bars turn slightly golden. These bars should be kept in the fridge in an airtight container and will last for a week. Alternatively, you can make ahead and keep them in the freezer for one month.

There are plenty of other ways you can add beans into your baking – muffins, cakes, brownies, blondies can all be done with the addition of various kinds of beans that will help enrich your baking nutritionally and stabilize blood sugars. Get creative, generally for every 1 cup of beans you can omit one cup of flour. Here’s to making the most to Summer and having the energy and good health to do so!

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