Homemade healthy anytime bars

21 Jun

I’m on a mission: to create a healthy snack bar for adults and kids. I’ve found that many parents buy granola bars or other types of snack bars and bring them to the playground or the pool. Adults are always looking for snacks on the go. So far I’ve experimented with adding more nuts and seeds and dried fruit and whole grains. Eventually, I’d like to make bars that have a vegetable or beans in them and less sugar than regular snack bars but that are still tasty. I did make zucchini muffins that were delicious!

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I have some basic ingredients that I use, adding or subtracting from the list each time. I don’t use all of these ingredients in any one recipe, especially the sugar.

The ingredients are:

Seeds: sesame seeds; sunflower seeds; pumpkin seeds

Nuts: almonds; peanut butter

Sugar: sugar, brown sugar, honey, corn syrup, applesauce (one or more of these)

Flavoring: vanilla or orange extract

Dried fruit: raisins, apricots, prunes, dates

My latest bar did not require baking but it did require refrigeration. This could be a problem for those wanting a bar with a long shelf life. It tends to get extremely gooey after it warms up. There are sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, almonds and peanut butter; dried fruit and a banana (I wanted to see how that tasted); corn syrup and applesauce. I have concluded that corn syrup with applesauce is too much liquid making the bars a bit gooey even when chilled. Next time I would use less corn syrup and use regular sugar instead of applesauce.

Gooey bars

Another bar I made recently had brown sugar and honey as the sweet ingredients with plenty of nuts and raisins too.
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Virginia Cooperative Extension’s 6th Annual Central Virginia Gardening conference

2 Jun

I attended the Virginia Cooperative Extension’s 6th Annual Central Virginia Gardening conference March 2, 2013, in Lynchburg, Virginia. Of the three sessions I attended, there were two that were helpful to my gardening and farming goals: The Ins and Outs of Soil and Seed Saver.

Regarding soil, since I didn’t know much to start, I learned quite a bit in the short 45-minute session. The number one takeaway is that I need to have my soil tested for nutrients and pH. I’ve been wanting to test for heavy metals that could be taken up by vegetable plants, but I hadn’t considered the need for pH testing. This may sound naïve to any experienced gardener. Today I learned the importance of this testing since most plants will not grow outside a narrow pH range (6-7). Following the conference, I sent my soil samples to Virginia Tech for testing. See my blog post about the process and the results. 

As for the Seed Saver class, I learned the very basics of saving seeds and the benefits of saving seeds. One benefit is that saving seeds from the very best plants will increase the odds that next year’s crop will be better than this year’s.  This season, I purchased seeds from a large seed manufacturer.  It’s what I’ve always done in the past but I think this will be the last time.  Since attending the conference, I’ve learned about Seed Savers Exchange (through the Growing Farms podcast) and I also attended a food swap in my neighborhood (organized by DIY Del Ray) where one of the attendees brought her own seeds. I was able to take home some zinnia seeds and marigold seeds from the food swap. Finally, attendees of the Seed Saver class left with numerous types of seeds. I’ve planted the squash and cantaloupe seeds. We’ll see how they do!

 

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Frog on my shoulder

20 Apr