I am a tough critic when it comes to granola bars. In my opinion, most of the varieties on the market tend to fall short on the healthy snack/meal replacement scale. Oh, and just to clarify, I have a hard time looking at any granola bars as meal replacements, no matter what their nutritional make-up may be. It just doesn't make sense as someone who likes to sit down and enjoy my meals with utensils. Even if I am in a hurry and need to grab a bar on the way out the door, I still think of it as more of a snack to hold me over--just my two cents.
The main problem with most granola bars is that what you see is definitely not what you get. The package boasts a photo of an appetizing, generously-sized, delectable treat, but when you take off the wrapper you are left with a two-bite (at best), overly-sweet morsel. That's supposed to keep me going until dinner? Another problem is that the nutritional content is often lacking---a gram of fiber here, a bit of protein there, and waaayy too much sugar. Chances are good that you'll be hungry again before you've even had a chance to throw away the wrapper.
Julie, this is all fascinating, but you mentioned something about a giveaway? Any chance that you will touch on that in the next paragraph or two? Oh right--the giveaway. Sorry. Well, speaking of granola bars (nice transition, huh?), the nice folks at Fiber One have provided me with the opportunity to give away three wonderful "chocolate spa" themed gift baskets to my readers. The basket includes a chocolate-scented candle, bar of soap, and lotion along with a tin of bath salts and a terry-covered bath pillow (I am loving the bath pillow.) Also included in the baskets is a box of Fiber One's new chewy Chocolate Mocha flavored bars.
I have been a fan of Fiber One cereal for years (and no, I'm not just saying that). I love that it is really low in calories while being very high in fiber (translation:filling), and it actually tastes good. It almost has a less-sweet graham cracker taste to it, and I've even used it as an ingredient in muffins. When I'm looking for a snack, whether in the afternoon or evening, I am usually looking for something that will keep me full but also satisfies my sweet tooth. These bars would suit both purposes. With a whopping 9 grams of fiber per bar (that's 35% of what you need each day) this 140 calorie, generously sized treat will keep you full. The bars are drizzled with chocolate and dotted with mini chips, and they have a not-too-sweet mocha undertone.
Sooooo......how would one go about getting these aforementioned gift baskets? Sorry again. I tend to ramble sometime. Just leave a comment, preferably a nice one. Stuck? Here are a few suggestions that you can feel free to use:
- Hi Julie. Long time reader, first time commenter. Love the blog. Please enter me into your gift basket drawing.
- Fiber One Chocolate Mocha Bars rock!! (sorry, this won't get you extra credit)
- Ummmm.... maybe next time you could give us the contest details at the beginning of your post. I only have so much time to read. Please enter my name.
One week from today I will put all of the names in a hat and draw out three. Each of the lucky winners will be sent a basket---hooray!!
In the meantime, to keep with the spa and healthy theme, here is a recipe for some of my all-time favorite dinner rolls. Because I will never be the girl who successfully gave up carbs (I love bread too much), I like to try to make my bread as nutritious as possible. These rolls incorporate whole wheat flour and bulgur, which add fiber and a slightly chewy texture. The seeds and salt are a nice flavor and texture touch, although it looks like I went a bit overboard with the salt in this batch. These rolls are really easy to make and are a true crowd pleaser. Here are a few extra tips for these healthy whole-grain rolls:
- The maple syrup can be replaced with honey. I just always have more maple syrup than honey around the house, so that is what I tend to use.
- Bulgur, also called bulgur wheat, is a grain that is commonly found in tabbouleh, a Middle Eastern salad. You can usually find bulgur in the health foods section of your grocery store or in the bulk bins in placed like Whole Foods.
- When setting the dough aside to rise, I like to use an oven that has been preheated for about 1 minute and then shut off. This provides a warm, but not hot, environment in which the dough can rise. My kitchen is always too cold for this purpose.
- These rolls can also be formed into pull-apart rolls. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray and equally space the rolls in the pans (12 to a pan.) Cover with plastic wrap and let the rolls rise for 20-25 minutes, and then bake 20-25 minutes per the directions below.
- Once baked, the rolls can be tightly wrapped and frozen for up to two weeks.
Makes about 24 rolls
1/2 cup bulgur
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (one 1/4-ounce package)
1 cup low-fat milk, warmed to 110-115F degrees
1/3 cup pure maple syrup, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup oats
2 cups whole wheat flour
5 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2-3 cups flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup mixed seeds, such as poppy, sesame, fennel, or caraway
Place the bulgur and 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until all of the water has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Set the bulgur aside and let it cool.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitter with the dough hook, combine the yeast, milk, and maple syrup. Set the mixture aside until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the eggs, oats, whole wheat flour, pepper, 2 teaspoons salt, and cooled bulgur to the milk mixture on low speed. Slowly add the regular flour to the mixture until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough. Mix the dough on medium-low speed until it springs back when pressed with a finger, 2-3 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat; cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 24 equally-sized pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Place the balls of dough on the baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Brush the tops of the rolls with the olive oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, 20-25 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Sprinkle the tops of the rolls with the mixed seeds and remaining tablespoon of kosher salt. Bake the rolls until they are dark golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Transfer the rolls to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or room temperature.