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Homemade Healthy Breakfast Bars

By Meredith O'Malley

Eating breakfast on a regular basis can help you lose weight and keep it off. High-fiber, nutritious breakfast choices can establish healthy eating habits throughout your day, preventing overeating, which can happen if you skip breakfast. You need breakfast to refuel your body, replenish glycogen store and provide you with essential energy needed to lead an active lifestyle. Making your own breakfast bars gives you complete control over the ingredients, which will allow you to create a healthy bar to meet your individual dietary needs.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover the 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Spray with olive or canola cooking spray. Olive oil and canola oil are both rich in monounsaturated fats and when used in place of saturated fats such as butter, can help you lower cholesterol levels.

Heat agave or agave light and almond butter over medium-low flame. Whisk for approximately 5 minutes until melted. Almond butter is another good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat as well as a good source of protein, with only 1/4 cup providing more than 13 g of protein.

Transfer agave and almond butter mixture into a mixing bowl with spatula.

Add vanilla, almond extract, cinnamon and nutmeg, stirring until combined.

Stir in oats, wheat germ, nuts and raisins or dried cranberries. Oats are high in soluble fiber which can help in lowering cholesterol. At least 5 to 10 g of soluble fiber has been shown to decrease total cholesterol, says MayoClinic.com. One and a half cups of cooked oats give you 6 g of fiber. By adding wheat germ, nuts, raisins or dried cranberries, you will be significantly bolstering your daily fiber and nutrient intake. For example, 1/4 cup of wheat germ will add more than 4 g of fiber.

Press mixture into 9-inch pan.

Bake for 15 minutes. Be careful not to overcook. Allow pan to cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

Tips

Try using a 9-by-13-inch pan for thinner bars. Bake for 13 minutes instead of 15 or until lightly brown.

Be aware of serving sizes when using cooking sprays to limit total calories used.

Experiment with light maple syrup or honey in place of agave.

Choose dried blueberries or apples instead of raisins or cranberries.

All-natural peanut butter can be used in place of almond butter.

For added nutrition and fiber, try adding 1/4 cup flaxseed to the existing recipe or replacing it for the wheat germ.

Quick oats can replace old fashioned rolled oats.

You can omit almond extract and nuts.

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