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Jun 16, 2011 07:41 AM

Healthy alternatives to honey for use in granola bars.

I´ve started making my own granola bars.
I want them to be as healthy as possible.
I bake them in the oven, for storage in room temperature.

My binding mixture consists of egg, peanut butter and maple syrup.
Is it possible to make it more healthy than this? And possibly drop the peanut butter?

Peanut butter is fine, but is there some sort of tasteless alternative? No matter what I put in them now, you can´t avoid the taste of peanuts.

And is there something else you can use instead of eggs?

Remember, healthy is the keyword here. So that means no corn syrup, glycose or sugars.

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    1. re: ferret

      Yes, it´s glycemic index is actually bigger than sugar.

      1. re: Ramius

        Refined honey, perhaps, but raw honey has a pretty low GI, if that's the standard you're using for "healthy."

    2. Obviously with the eggs you could just use whites which are pretty flavor free. If you don't like peanut butter you could try almond butter for a little more variety in taste. As for other alternatives I haven't had a chance to try it yet, but I've come across recipes for imitation Lara Bars that either use prunes or Sunsweet Lighter Bake (which is made from prunes).

      1. I can't really answer on the sweetener, but instead of the eggs (and possibly also to replace the peanut butter), you could use ground flaxseed simmered with water for a couple of minutes until thick.

        Here's a recipe I've used -

          1. re: lmmsdca

            @lmmsdca, agave nectar has a very high proportion of fructose, and many of the retail products are cut with cheap corn syrup to lower costs. it's not a healthful alternative to honey.

            @Ramius, try coconut palm sugar - it has a lower GI than any of the other standard granular or liquid sugars, and a lovely flavor similar to brown sugar but with more pronounced notes of butterscotch & caramel.

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              or of you want liquid you can use coconut palm nectar( so long a sit is pure.)

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                What's a reliable source for the GI of palm sugar? A Philippine agency promoting the product claims 35, but most GI databases and tables do not have this sugar. Usually the tables list prepared foods as opposed to raw ingredients.

                I also found a Cambodian study that looked palm sugar juice, and found it contained 70-80% sucrose, the remainder being split between fructose and glucose. I am suspicious of GI claims significantly different from that of sucrose.

                1. re: paulj

                  The local store has got Coconut Oil, but is that something different?

                  Also, I wan´t to completely stay away from transfat and saturated fat. I know alot of palmoil products has this.

                  1. re: Ramius

                    @ ramius coconut oil is not the same as coconut palm sugar.
                    @paulj: All I know about this is that it does not raise my personal blood sugar

                    1. re: Ramius

                      Also, I wan´t to completely stay away from transfat and saturated fat. I know alot of palmoil products has this.
                      the type of saturated fat found in coconut oil isn't metabolized the same way as other sat fats so it's not so much of a fact, the triglycerides in coconut oil have been shown to have health benefits.

                      but as magiesmom said, the oil and the sugar are two entirely different things. the oil is just that - oil/fat. and the sugar is, well...sugar.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        my cardiologist recommends consumption of coconut oil, btw.

                        1. re: magiesmom

                          There probably have been greater changes in how doctors view various fats than in any other dietary component. And most of that comes from basic research into how fats are processed and transformed in the body. The initial message was, cholesterol is found in clogged arteries, so cut back on dietary cholesterol. Then it was recognized that the body produces much of its own cholesterol and that it is needed, at least in moderation. So now there is more concern with precursors to cholesterol (including hdls and ldls).

                          We also got messages about good and bad fats from producers of various fats, most notably the producers of soy and cottonseed oils (who gave the more saturated tropical fats a bad rep). I'm not sure if the positive advertising from the tropical oil (especially the organics) people is anymore trustworthy.

                          1. re: paulj

                            I was talking about what my MD says, not the advertisers. I have no idea who is right in any of this , actually as it all changes every twenty minutes.

                    2. re: paulj

                      @paul i wish someone else would research it formally because right now the only numbers floating around are the ones from the Philippine i've been using it based on my own experience/anecdotal evidence - it doesn't impact my sugar or that of my diabetic friends & clients as much as other product do.

                      honestly i'd love to know *how* the GI is lower without a higher proportion of fructose - and as someone with fructose malabsorption issues i can tell you that Cambodian info must be correct - there's not a lot of fructose in there or i wouldn't be able to eat it without experiencing major discomfort.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        The way I understand sugars is that fructose and glucose are the two simple sugars that pass from the little intestine to the blood stream. Glucose is utilized with the help of insulin. Fructose is mostly processed in the liver (see the closed debate about fructose being toxic). More complex sugars (such as sucrose) and starches are either broken down into these simple sugars (starting the the saliva enzymes), or they pass on to the big intestine where bacteria might feast on them (and produce gas in the case of some bean sugars).

                        So the big factors affecting GI, or more importantly glycimic loading, are the relative concentrations of fructose (low GI) and glucose (reference GI of 100), and the rate they are absorbed. Free glucose and fructose are absorbed quickly. Sucrose breaks down nearly as quickly, so table sugar has nearly the same GI as liquid sugars like honey and HFCS (with similar fructose glucose ratios). Whole grains have more complex sugars and starches, so take longer to break down. Plus they have fiber. Soluble fiber (as in oats and oat bran) absorbs water and slows down digestion. Insoluble fiber adds bulk in the colon.

                        1. re: paulj

                          thanks i actually know all of that...and i kept an eye on the "fructose is toxic" thread, i just had no desire to jump into the fray and go around in circles ;)

                          my point about the GI of coconut sugar was that i'm puzzled by the results of the Philippine & Cambodian studies and by my own physiological response to it...the low GI *should* indicate a higher proportion of fructose, but judging by the numbers from the Cambodian folks and by the fact that i can consume it without having a fructose reaction, that doesn't appear to be the case.

                          ah, sweet mystery...

                    3. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      ghg: Is coconut palm sugar the same as the palm sugar commonly used in Thai cooking, or is it something different?

                  2. I would try tahini in place of the pb for a different taste.