Granola Bars

A question has been plaguing me lately. Are granola bars actually healthy? See, I really like snacks, and easy snacks on the go are a must. And I really like the idea of granola bars*, and they sound healthy… but are they?

Then I started going down the rabbit hole. How do you measure the health of a granola bar, or anything else for that matter? There’s calorie count alone, but that seems like a shallow way to measure a complex product. There’s fiber and protein and filling-ness. And fat, especially saturated fat and trans fat. There’s Glycemic Index and complex versus simple carbs. And there’s the amount of additives that we really shouldn’t be putting in our bodies.

Yikes. And all that doesn’t even include another important factor when choosing a granola bar: Taste! Here’s a breakdown of a few different bars:

Nature Valley Oats and Honey (2 bars) Lara Bar (Cherry Pie) Nutri grain Apple Cinnamon Cereal Bar FiberOne Oats and Chocolate PowerBar Protein Plus Bar (Chocolate and Peanut Butter)
Calories 190 200 120 140 210
Fat (Total/ Saturated/ Trans) 6g/.5/0 8g/.5g/0 3g/.5/0 4g/2/0 6g/3g/0
Carbs (Total/ Sugar/Fiber 29g/12g/2g 30g/23g/4g 24g/12g/3g 29g/10g/9g 25g/12/4g
Protein 4g 5g 2g 2g 20g
Ingredients Mostly pronounceable Unsweetened cherries, dates and almonds (that’s IT!) Lots! (And really weird things no ones every heard of) Lots! Lots!
Taste I think they’re delicious. Especially slathered with peanut butter. I like them! Pretty tasty, but definitely not filling Like a cardboard candy bar Like a chalky candy bar,
Overall ratings I think they’re filling, and I think they win on taste. However, the nutrients really don’t measure up. They contain 7g of unsaturated fat (which are good!) and have a super simple ingredient list. They do have a decent amount of calories and lots of sugar, even if from natural sources. Doesn’t contain much to keep you full or satisfied. Not a good option overall. This is a good option to get a lot of fiber, which makes it filling. Some like the taste, but others don’t prefer it. I have also found they can leave you feeling bloated. Personally, I’d prefer to get my fiber from fruits and veggies. If you’re looking for lots of protein, this delivers. Definitely not the most natural ingredient list, and contains 200mg of sodium and 3g of saturated fat. Also a higher cal option.

So, I think the moral of the story is that you have to sacrifice on something in granola bars. You can’t have both the best taste and the most filling, or the most fiber and the most protein. It’s probably better to choose a snack that’s not prepackaged, like a handful of almonds and an apple. 1 medium sized apple and 1 ounce of almonds provides 226 cal, 14 g fat (1 g saturated/0 trans), 23g total carb/6 g fiber/14g sugar and 6g protein. Cheaper, more natural, and healthier.

*I use the term granola bars loosely to describe cereal bars, protein bars, etc.

Creativity and health

Did you know that creativity can contribute to your well-being?

It’s about more than music therapy or keeping arts in the schools. As a “grown-up,” creativity may seem like the last thing we have time or interest in. But research has shown a strong link between creativity and improved mental and physical health. As Amanda Enayati writes here, “Creating helps make people happier, less anxious, more resilient and better equipped to problem-solve in the face of hardship.” Creativity is the flip side to our stressed-out, overworked selves. Creativity is release. Creativity gives us purpose and fulfillment. Creativity can lead to “unconventional” choices, such as making less money and changing priorities to make room for our passions.

You may also be surprised to know that “activities that tap self-awareness and creativity – such as dance, art, sleep, meditation, hobbies and play – can have a positive impact on problem-solving and other research practices,” according to research out of Cornell. We’re used to thinking of science as opposed to art, but contemplation practices can improve not only professional artists but also the work of biomedical researchers. The contemplative practices that are included in “The Tree of Contemplative Practice” can improve flexibility and adaptability, facilitate a state of calm, broaden perspectives, explore values, decrease emotional drama, improve self-regulation, and aid in problem-solving. Tree7-11large

Imagine that. Creativity isn’t necessarily an attribute you’re born with. It can be cultivated through contemplative practices of stillness, creativity, production, relationships, rituals, and activism.

What contemplative practices have you tried? How have you made room for creative pursuits in your life?

Welcome to Wellness

Welcome to the blog!

I’m really interested in health and wellness and helping others get to a place where they can maximize their healthy choices and live a happy life. I am NOT about fad dieting, restricting food intake, or assigning guilt to others’ health status. I have lots to learn myself!

I prioritize balance. I once heard the phrase “a balanced diet is a piece of white chocolate in one hand and dark chocolate in the other.” I could really do without the white chocolate… but my own lifestyle choices consist of the “good for your body” choices, like eating lots of veggies and drinking lots of water and some “good for your soul” choices, like eating ice cream most days out of the week.

I hope that my blog inspires you to find the choices that are right for you wherever you are on your health journey!

Here’s to a happier, healthier, balanced life!
Kristen