Honestly Healthy Muesli Bars (fruit free, fructose friendly & dairy free)

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It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that 98% of packaged muesli bars on the market are not at all healthy.
Despite their efforts to market themselves as wholesome snacks, most muesli bars on the market are loaded with nasties. And those nasties aren’t necessarily always the usual suspects, either. Sure, if you’re into reading labels, you’re probably used to avoiding unpronounceable chem-lab names and numbers which translate into artificial preservatives, sweeteners and other additivies. And sure, you might do a quick scan of the sugar content. But how much notice do you pay to where all that sugar is coming from? The majority of muesli/snack bars out there are loaded with added sugar, whether it’s straight-up refined (white/brown sugar, golden syrup), unrefined like in the ‘healthier’ varieties (honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, coconut sugar/nectar, rice malt syrup etc.), or sneakily disguised as being the most ‘natural’ sugar sources of all: dried/raw fruit and fruit juice concentrates.

As I write this, I’m analysing the labels of 2 different muesli bar boxes I found in my pantry. They’re by a popular ‘real food’ supermarket brand, marketed and believed to be truly healthy. Yes, most of the ingredients are whole, and one thing I’ll give them is how transparent they are about the ingredients they use, but they’re still out of touch with the anti-added sugar movement. Either that, or they know most people will read “honey” or “apple juice concentrate” and think that it must be healthy.
One of said muesli bars contains 6 DIFFERENT SOURCES OF SUGAR: cranberries, sugar, glucose, honey, rice syrup and apple. The other contains 5 sources: glucose, honey, sugar, cranberries and sultanas.
SUGAR, SUGAR, SUGAR…

Of course, if you don’t have fructose malabsorption, then finding a healthy packaged snack is less of an ordeal because there’s a whole heap of health bars on the shelves of health food stores and even supermarkets now. The problem for someone like me is that all those ‘refined sugar free’ and ‘raw’ bars and bliss balls usually scream one thing: FRUCTOSE. They’re pumped with agave (which is 70-90% fructose), dates, and dried fruit. And dried fruit is practically just concentrated fructose. So, without being too controversial, I’d argue that 90% of those raw food bars and bliss balls aren’t that great for you anyway, whether you can digest them or not. Most of them are glorified lollies with a little extra fibre and protein, disguised in rustic packaging with words like ‘raw vegan’ and ‘no added sugar’ sprawled across them. No added sugar? OF COURSE THEY DON’T CONTAIN ADDED SUGAR! They don’t need to add sugar on top of all the syrup and fruit, because if they did, those bars would be distastefully sweet.
Like I always say, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
And regardless of how ‘natural’ the sugar source is, if it’s as sweet as a lolly, it probably isn’t that good for you.

I’m pretty sure that you get my point by now: most muesli bars are unhealthy, and even the semi-healthy ones are often packed with fructose and are thus out-of-bounds for those who cannot digest excess fructose. I should quickly note that fructose friendly snack bars do exist, but I’m yet to come across one that ticks all four boxes: it’s gotta be honestly healthy, fructose friendly, filling, and YUMMY! All the ones I’ve tried lack in an area or two.

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These Honestly Healthy Fruit-Free Muesli Bars are super easy to whip up and the recipe is very forgiving. If you don’t have a particular ingredient, don’t stress, just use something else that’s similar in density (except maybe for the oats and eggs, you’ll need those!), being mindful of wet to dry ratios. This is a great base recipe, so feel free to mix things up! Try adding things like goji berries (dark choc-coated gojis would be delicious for a more decadent treat), cacao nibs, or a little unsweetened dried fruit, like cranberries or raisins. While this recipe is relatively high in protein, you could even incorporate your favourite CLEAN protein powder into the mix, to make it a great post-workout snack.
When divided into 24 pieces, each serving contains just 3g of sugar, which is equivalent to 2 large strawberries. These bars are super filling so you can be sure they’ll tie you over to your next meal. They’re also high in fibre, healthy fats, protein and antioxidants, and relatively low carb, making them a perfect snack any time of day.
Keep them in an airtight container away from direct sunlight for up to a week. I also like to keep a little container of them in my car’s glove box  (in cooler weather), and one wrapped up in my handbag to ensure that I’m prepared for a snack attack no matter where I am.

Fructose Friendly Muesli Bars

Makes 24 snack squares (or 12 large bars).
Dietary info: fructose friendly, low FODMAP, wheat free (contains spelt), dairy free, refined sugar free, soy free.
Contains gluten (oats & spelt), eggs and tree nuts.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup  unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1 cup mixed seeds (pepitas & sunflower kernels)
  • 1/2 cup raw nuts (almonds & pecans), roughly chopped
  • 1 tbs chia seeds
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon (depending on how much you like cinnamon)
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground dried ginger
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan sea salt
  • 3 eggs (organic & free range, if possible)
  • 1/4 cup sweetener (I used half/half pure maple and rice malt syrup)
  • 1/4 cup natural nut butter (I used peanut)
  • 2 tbs melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbs water
  • Stevia, to taste

Optional: cacao nibs, 3 tbs dried fruit (raisins, sultanas or cranberries), protein powder

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180’C and line a slice tray or square cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. At this point I also added 1/2 tsp of concentrated stevia extract powder (see notes).
  3. In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then whisk in the remaining wet ingredients. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and combine well.
  4. Press firmly into prepared slice/cake tin and sprinkle the top with some extra pepitas and coconut, if desired. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until firm and golden brown (as pictured).
  5. Remove from oven and allow to sit in tin for 10 minutes. Remove from tin and cool on a wire rack for a few hours. Use a sharp knife to remove the edges of the slice. Cut slice into desired pieces, and store in an airtight container away from direct sunlight for up to a week.

Notes:

  • As always, the amount of stevia you use will depend on what type of stevia you have. If it’s concentrated powder or liquid, you’ll only need a tiny bit. If it’s granulated, you can use a lot more because concentrated pure stevia is 8 times sweeter than granulated stevia. Those with FM will only be able to use concentrated stevia anyway, as granulated varieties contain fillers to increase their volume, such as inulin and fructo-oligosaccharides, which we cannot digest.
  • Some individuals with FM might be more sensitive to nuts and needs than others. If this applies to you, reduce the amounts. However, the amounts I have used should be pretty safe, especially when the recipe is divided into 24 servings.

Happy Nourishing!
Ax

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29 thoughts on “Honestly Healthy Muesli Bars (fruit free, fructose friendly & dairy free)

  1. Hey Gina! Hmmmm I’m always hesitant to use quinoa in sweet baked recipes because they can give off a strange flavour. You’re more than welcome to try it – might be worth a shot if it turns out well! Please let me know how you go 🙂
    And thank you! Yup you’ve nailed it – each individual gut is sooo different when it comes to intolerances/malabsorption (purely because the reason they’ve developed it in the first place are different and reflective of different issues), so that’s why I can never guarrantee that what works for me will work for others. Mint? Really?! Golly that’s a shame. I’m going to look into that for you, but I’m going to say that it’s not the mint in itself that you’re reacting to, its purely the sensitivity and unhappiness of your gut that’s reacting to the MINT, if you get me? X

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  2. Hi Ashlyn, I find I am intolerant to Oats could you substitute these with anything else? Quinoa maybe? I saw a recipe for Anzac biscuits recently ( IQS- Sarah Wilson) that said for a paeleo version you could swap the oats for Quinoa. Do you think it would work in this recipe?

    Absolutely love your site by the way. I think the biggest “takeout” for me is that everyone’s tolerances are different and you have to listen to your body. I am still struggling to workout what I can and can’t tolerate even though I have been diagnosed with IBS. I do know that unfortunately I can’t tolerate bananas or mint! ( hopefully one day I’ll be able to introduce them back in to my diet and try some of your delicious looking recipes that call for these). And I didn’t realise nuts such as almonds and hazelnuts could also cause load issues! I look forward to reading more. Thanks for taking the time to share your personal knowledge and experience. 👍🏻😀

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  3. hi Ashlyn,
    my sister has to go sugar free completely because of some health problems and was trying to find more recipes for her and i saw your site… i might even try some of the recipes that look really good

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  4. Hi Mary, yes you could definitely try this, I used to use apple sauce all the time. Just bear in mind that it won’t be as sweet, and obviously won’t have aas much flavour is you also leave out the stevia but it depends on your preferences – the less sweet you can have it, the better!

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  5. Hello! Hmmm you could try doing this however you might need more of the wet ingredients (i.e coconut oil) as ground nuts and seeds will absorb a lot more liquid than the chunkier ones will and the slice might turn out a bit dry. Let me know how you go if you try it 🙂

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  6. Hi Ashlyn,
    I was just wondering if I could substitute half of the syrup for unsweetened applesauce? Also I don’t use stevia would it be ok to omit or would it not be sweet enough?
    Thanks!

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  7. Catherine and Ashlyn, I have very successfully frozen this recipe. And then I just let them thaw in the fridge over night. But, you’ve probable tried this yourself by now 😉

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  8. Thanks for the great recipe. I made these this morning, (accidentally) forgetting to add the coconut oil and adding protein powder as I’m always running low on protein. I loved the spices, the cardamom and ginger make such a difference to my possibly overused cinnamon! The bars were so tasty I ate two… and my tummy got rather peeved (nothing terrible, just noisily doing what I call “dancing the rumba”). So I am cutting them in half and I’m going to try and make sure I manage the portion control carefully! I’m trying to prepare a stash of foods as I’m about to go on yet another long flight/work trip to China and the plane never has anything edible for me. Any other suggestions for portable snacks?

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  9. My daughter doesn’t like the texture of nuts and seeds. Could I grind up the pepitas, sunflower kernels and nuts or would the different texture stuff up the rest of the recipe…? Thanks 🙂

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  10. Pingback: Honestly Healthy Muesli Bars (fruit free, fructose friendly & dairy free) | 50% Punk, 50% Rock

  11. Hi Catherine, I’m pretty sure I already replied to this comment but can’t see it there so just in case…
    I’m always reluctant to encourage freezing baked goods, only because I worry that they might lose texture and get that ‘frozen’ flavour once thawed, but you could definitely give it a try! X

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  12. Hi Ashlyn this recipe looks amazing I’m going to make them for my toddler who is on a low FODMAP diet. It is so handy having a recipe i don’t need to adjust for once! Just wondering do you know if the muesli bars can be frozen once cooked?

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  13. Hi Sarina,
    To be honest, I do not provide the macro/micro nutrient counts on my recipes yet, purely for the fact that I am very time poor at the moment. I’ll be doing a site makeover in the near future, and I will be providing all nutritional information on my recipes when I do. KJ count on its own isn’t as important as the INGREDIENTS from which those KJs are coming from, but if you wanted to make these bars lower energy, lower the quantities of nuts and seeds. This will reduce the KJs significantly. Also, if it’s for a snack, I eat these bars as ‘squares’ (half a bar). This offers a filling, low-cal, nutritious and well-portioned snack between large meals. Hope this helps! X

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  14. Hi Ashlyn, do you have the nutritional information for this recipe (specifically the kilojoule count) as I am watching my kJ intake at the moment and would love to try these bars. Thanks!

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  15. Perhaps try cacao butter. I had no peanut butter so I used an organic peanut & cacao made by Mayvers. My local health food store stocks it, so does Coles.

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  16. Hey Kat! Hmmm does that policy include seeds? If not, you could use a pumpkin seed butter or tahini (sesame butter). If you’re not allowed to use seeds either, let me know and I’ll think of something else! X

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  17. Looking forward to trying this recipe. I have to make it for school, could you recommend a substitute for the nut butter? the school has a no nut policy due to allergies! cheers

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  18. Hey Zoe!

    Thanks for the gorgeous feedback, I’m glad you found my site! At the start of my FM (nearly 2 years ago), eating low FODMAP/fructose friendly foods was the difference between what felt like life and death haha! Within a few weeks of going low FODMAP, every single one of my symptoms calmed down. I’ve slowly introduced some FODMAPs back in, but I won’t be satisfied until I can eat whatever I want again (what is life without onion and garlic?!). I believe there’s certain reasons (very individual ones) as to why people develop digestive issues such as FM. I hope one day I can figure it out and reverse it for people. Although going low FODMAP will ease your symptoms, it’s still not fixing what’s wrong with you – it’s just keeping it at bay. We “developed” this, so we can get rid of it. It’s going to be a tricky road figuring out how though! One day 🙂

    Thanks again Zoe! Xxxxxx

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  19. Hi Ashlyn,
    Love the recipes! I have recently been diagnosed with FM and have fallen in love with your blog! Cant wait to test this recipe tonight.
    Just wanted to know how much of a difference eating low fodmap/fructose friendly foods has had for you? Do you still experience some of the symptoms you used to before being diagnosed?
    Would love to hear your experiences.
    Many thanks for the recipes – you are amazing!!

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  20. I should also note that since spelt is related to wheat and they therefore contain a very similar gluten, people with an actual allergy to wheat or an intolerance to gluten specifically, will not be able to eat spelt.

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  21. Hi Sam, spelt is a species of wheat, but doesn’t have the same molecular composition of modern wheat. It’s more like wheat’s cousin, if you like, which can get confusing. So where I state “wheat free”, I’m referring to modern wheat, the wheat which many people have problems digesting. People with fructose malabsorption or IBS can generally tolerate spelt quite well, whereas they cannot digest large amounts of common/modern wheat. Hope that helps… X

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