Chewy Chocolatey Peanut Cranberry Granola Bars

  The month of March is National Peanut Month! Lucky for us, March also coincides with National Nutrition Month. Texas Peanut Producers is happy to welcome guest blogger, Makenzie, of Ken’s Kitchn to our blog this month to help us celebrate peanuts and all of their health benefits! Stop by every Tuesday this month for nutritional recipes featuring our favorite nut! Read more about Makenzie, registered dietician, nutritionist and food blogger, and find more delicious recipes at kenskitchn.com.

As we continue with National Nutrition and Peanut Month, I wanted to shed light on an important topic that effects half of the U.S. population (I’m also putting my Registered Dietitian pants on, so humor me). Heart disease is leading cause of death among Americas, meaning that 1 in 4 people will die from cardiovascular complications. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking are the most common risk factors associated with heart disease. This means that someone you know and love most likely has an increased risk for a cardiovascular event.

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So what can be done to improve you or your loved one’s cardiovascular outlook? Lifestyle modification and any recommendations from your healthcare provider. That’s where this week’s peanut recipe comes in. Healthy fats and fiber are important nutrients when it comes to combating heart disease and these deliciously nutritious granola bars I baked up are packed with both. They were also a big hit in our home a.k.a I discovered homemade granola bars are the way to my husband’s heart- no pun intended.

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Unsaturated fats (the healthy fats) help to improve cardiovascular function through their anti-inflammatory properties. By decreasing the “bad” cholesterol (Low-Density Lipoproteins) and increase the “good” cholesterol (High-Density Lipoproteins), peanuts are packed with these healthy and essential fats. Peanuts also contain fiber, which can improve blood pressure. (other high fiber foods making an appearance in these bars: oats, pumpkin seeds, and dried fruit)

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The other benefit of making these granola bars at home? You can avoid all the sodium added by the processed, pre-packaged options. Yes, sodium even lingers in the sweet stuff. It’s not what you think of when you think salt, but read your

nutrition labels and you will be shocked to learn sodium is in just about all pre-packaged foods. By lowering your sodium intake, you can improve you blood pressure numbers

So do your heart and taste buds a favor and make these healthy treats at home!

 

Chewy Chocolatey Peanut Cranberry Granola Bars

Makes: 10 bars (3 in x 2 in bars)     Prep Time: 10 minutes     Cook Time: 12 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a small baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl combine peanuts, oats, pumpkin seeds, and cranberries. Set aside.
  3. In a small sauce pan, over low-medium heat, whisk together coconut oil, peanut butter, honey, and cinnamon. Continue mixing until all ingredients have melted together and form a smooth, creamy mixture.
  4. Add liquid to the dry ingredients and mix together until all of the dry ingredients are coated.
  5. Dump the granola bar mix into the baking dish. Using a spatula to evenly spread and press the mix in the dish. Once compact, sprinkle the top with the chocolate chunk pieces.
  6. Place in the oven to bake for 12 minutes.
  7. Allow the bars to cool to room temperature. Then place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  8. Remove from the refrigerator and cut into 10 evenly divided bars.
  9. Eat as a snack or for breakfast. Store in an air tight container- good for 1 week in the fridge and 3-4 days at room temp.