By Samantha Lim, Staff Writer
There seems to be a particular emphasis on sports, health and general well being at Hofstra as of late. Greek and Earth Week activities encouraged physical fitness as well as making our world healthy. So many food products offered in the market nowadays are advertised as healthy, but are they?
The ubiquitous granola bar is one such food on the suspect list. Granola bars are a favorite grab-and-go snack of almost every household. These convenient tummy-fillers are so yummy, they seem like candy bars minus the guilt. However, close inspection of the list of ingredients printed on the back of a store-bought brand is enough to make one queasy. Chances are you will spot names of preservatives you can barely pronounce, and additives that give the product an unnaturally long shelf life. Cooking offers the control over what goes into your body. Hence, this week's culinary quest–homemade granola bars.
On top of eating better, baking these will make it easier on your wallet or diminishing meal plan. A box of six granola bars from the Student Center cafeteria or Dutch Treats sets you back by $6.29, while a single bar costs a whopping $2.85. Take this recipe to the kitchen and you'll be rewarded with sixteen to twenty bars for fewer than 15 dollars.
Preheat your oven to 350 °F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Stir the oats, flour, baking soda, vanilla extract, softened butter, honey and sugar in a large bowl. I used natural sweeteners such as honey and cane sugar as opposed to regular sugar. Add the two cups of assorted goodies–butterscotch chips, nuts and dried fruit–and mix well using your hands. I replaced common chocolate chips for butterscotch chips, and passed on raisins for dried mango. Go ahead and add flax seeds, whole-wheat germ or any other supplements. If you're looking to bulk up, you could even toss in a tablespoon or two of pricey protein powder.
Scoop the mixture into the prepared pan then press flat. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, depending on how you want them. If they are just slightly brown around the edges, you will get moist, chewy bars, but leaving them in the oven until they turn golden brown provides a crunchier texture. After 10 minutes of cooling time, cut into bars or squares. Let the bars cool completely before removing from the pan. I left a trail of melted butterscotch chips on top of my squares for added appeal. If stored in an airtight container, they remain fresh for up to a week. Happy healthy snacking!