Sweet & Salty Chocolate Chai Granola Bars
so good, our nanny asked for the recipe
Last Thursday, it was “one of those days”. The girls had been up too late the night before, and everything was triggering frantic crying episodes in both of them. The house was a wreck. I felt emotionally “off” due to some unexpected grief that had been triggered earlier that afternoon and I wanted to hibernate instead of parenting these fragile, tired, pouting children.
My plan for that day was to happily make granola bars with the girls as a fun afternoon activity. My morning mental expectation for how this would go didn’t take into account the Crest Sparkle toothpaste that Re’uth would eat or how I would feel when I replied to a surprise email from a broken friendship. It wasn’t on the to-do list to get in touch with my pain.
Making granola bars was the last thing I wanted to do. Making them meant that I had to be present to my pain by being present in the moment. It felt like too much work to show up for these beautiful children, asking for my attention. It was too much work to show up for myself. And then all the physical work of making yet another mess in the already messy kitchen. Everything about these granola bars invited me to do work I didn’t want to do. Emotional numbness is what I wanted, and it sounded so luxurious.
Numbing is the easy way out, but you don’t really get out of anything. It’s a temporary, nasty little trick that sets you back. Then when you wake up out of the numbness, you hate how you acted when you were numb, and then you wish that next time you just pushed into being present with your junk, instead of zoning out.
Maybe if I showed up for my kids, the grief that was triggered earlier that afternoon wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe showing up could help to pull me through the muck.
When I asked the girls if they wanted to help, they magically skipped over to the kitchen like unicorns dancing in a double rainbow. Two bright little girls would drop any toy to pull up a wooden chair to a kitchen stove to help their tired mom make some granola bars.
There was still a little bit of pushing and shoving over who was leaning into who too much and who got to dump the next ingredient in the bowl, but making these granola bars completely changed the day (especially for the mom).
We were having fun.
And more than having fun, I was able to work on my new trail in the woods from Point Numb to Point Fun. It takes a landfill full of cruddy courage to not only recognize when you’re standing at the Point Numb Post, but to move away from it, into the pain, so that you can be healed and have a great time at Point Fun.
I made these granola bars with “Flax Balls”. That’s what we call Enjoy Life’s Crunchy Flax Original Cereal. I LOVE this cereal for my girls because it’s super low in sugar, high in fiber, and high in protein. If there was a Dr. Archer pull string doll, that would be one of her mantras. The sugar/fiber/protein ratio in this cereal is serious business because it is very difficult to find a gluten-free cereal that’s so blood sugar balanced. Now, I’m not saying that this is good for your blood sugar, because grains in general are not an optimal food for people with blood sugar wonkiness. I’m saying it’s one of the best gluten-free cereals out there in terms of healthiness and allergy friendliness. Most gluten-free cereals are junk.
(The downside of the Flax Balls is that my girls like to pretend it’s cat food by eating it like a cat while they play “cats”. The Flax Balls get everywhere in this game and it drives the Wendy’s Eating Husband squirrely because he can’t handle all the healthy food everywhere. Then he’ll vacuum the cat mess while he mutters over and over how much he hates Flax Balls—especially how they get stuck in his socks.)
While I was having fun making granola bars on the fly, I felt particularly playful in the sweetener department and added more than I usually do. Later, my OCD brain was suspicious. He told me to calculate how much sugar one bar would contain if the entire pan was divided into 12 bars: about 11 grams of sugar if I round up. This isn’t white sugar, obviously, but the “sugars” you would read on the side of a label. Natural sweeteners are still considered “sugar” in your body.
Let’s just say I don’t feel so bad eating one of these granola bars. I wonder how all the antioxidants in the raw cacao nibs help to modulate the insulin response.
For comparison, I matched up one of my Chocolate Chai Granola Bars to a Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar in the illustration below. The ratio of sugar:protein:fiber shows exactly why they didn’t tank my blood sugar like a Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar does. Notice below how the amount of sugar in the Larabar is more than double the amount of protein it contains. That’s exactly why I can’t eat them. Here’s your blood sugar take away advice: avoid foods where the amount of sugar grams are more than double the protein.
Sweet & Salty Chocolate Chai Granola Bars
Makes one 9×11 pan, cut into 12 bars
- 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats, GF if needed
- 3 cups Enjoy Life Crunchy Flax Original cereal
- 3/4 cup ground flax seeds
- 2 envelopes of Knox gelatin
- 1/2 cup cacao nibs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon stevia
- 1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 3/4 cup organic virgin coconut oil
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 2 Tablespoons blackstrap molasses
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla
- Place the 2 de-seeded medjool dates in the freezer for easy cutting later.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Roast 2 cups of old fashioned rolled oats at 350°F for 15 minutes. Once done, transfer to a different pan for cooling & turn the oven down to 300°F.
- Line a 9×11 glass baking dish with parchment paper. This will be for the granola bars.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine ground flax seeds, gelatin, cocoa nibs, salt, stevia, cinnamon, ginger, & cardamom. Mix well.
- Add the roasted oats & Crunchy Flax Cereal to the mixing bowl. Mix well.
- Chop the two de-seeded medjool dates as finely as possible. Add them to the mixing bowl. Mix well.
- Melt coconut oil in the microwave or in a saucepan. Once it’s fully melted and in liquid form, in a separate bowl, mix melted coconut oil, maple syrup, & molasses together.
- Pour warm liquid mixture over dry contents in mixing bowl. Thoroughly mix together.
- Press mixture into glass pyrex dish lined with parchment paper.
- Bake at 300°F for 30 minutes.
- Cool completely prior to cutting. Bars will be crunchy.
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