Saturday, March 14, 2015

Are Home-Made Granola Snacks Better than Store-Bought?

My three kids play soccer and soft ball several days a week and we often carry snacks to be sure they have something to eat for extra energy while we're driving all over the place, especially since we sometimes eat late dinners and not always the best choices. A couple of the other kids' mothers insist that making their own snacks are so much healthier than store bought granola bars or trail mix. Is this a fact?
Thanks, Karen F.

Hi Karen,

The fact is, home-made items are not automatically more healthy than store-bought, especially with the large selection of pre-packaged snacks available now. Some people dislike foods with additives and preservatives and would rather make their own granola bars and trail mix. But unless they are choosing healthy ingredients, simply making a snack at home does not make it better.

Lots of granola-type snacks are high in fat, and many of the trail-mix blends are full of candy such as sugar-coated chocolates.
If you make your own recipe with healthy nuts and oats and some dried fruit, and limit the fat and sugar, you can end up with an energy-packed, high-fiber snack. If, however, the recipe includes candy and peanuts and sugar-coated dried fruit, it's just going to be a high-calorie, high-sugar, high-fat treat.

Consider what "home-made" means to some people: It could be opening packages of cereals and nuts and candies in their house and tossing them together with melted butter--not a healthy treat by anyone's standards!

Some companies now offer the option to make your own granola bars by choosing from their ingredients and then they ship you the product--made from scratch, but not cheap!

It's very possible to find a reasonable snack that is pre-packaged. Look at the nutrition facts panel for those that limit added sugars and added fats, and pay attention to portion size and calories per serving... too much of even a good thing is, well, just too much!