Apricot Pecan Cereal Bars

by TGC Staff | September 30, 2008 12:00 am

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With autumn in the air and back to school thoughts on the minds of many families, this week's recipe is a perfect addition to lunchboxes and briefcases alike. A nutritious, delicious and convenient breakfast bar, it's packed with dried fruit, grains and nuts. Our version provides all of the flavor of store-bought varieties, but without the added sugar and fat.

Sweet dried apricots are the star of this recipe. Apricots belong to the stone fruit family thanks to a single seed housed in a hard shell. They provide an excellent source of vitamin A and are a rich source of vitamin C and beta-carotene, two compounds that researchers believe may play a role in protection from esophageal cancer.

First cultivated in China about 3000 BC, the apricot eventually made its way to Europe via Armenia. Apricot trees were in Virginia by the early 1700s, but its appearance in the Spanish missions of California later that century marked the fruit's true introduction in the United States.

Dried apricots are as sweet as candy, but be careful: Too much of a good thing even a healthful food like apricots can sabotage those watching calories. Dried fruit is more concentrated in calories because the water has been removed. Limit portions to one-quarter cup a day.

Although apricots may be the showstopper this week, oats are the foundation of the recipe. Rich in soluble fiber, oats play a role in combating cholesterol. In addition, oats are a whole grain and provide selenium and important B vitamins.

Heart-healthy pecans and canola oil, protein-rich tofu and a dash of natural sweetness from honey and applesauce round out the nutrient profile of our breakfast bars.

Apricot Pecan Cereal Bars

Makes 24 servings.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spread oats and pecans on large (15x10 inch) baking dish. Bake until lightly brown and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer to large mixing bowl and add cereal, apricots and flour; stir to combine.
  4. Puree tofu, egg, applesauce, oil, honey, vanilla and lemon zest in a blender until smooth. Make a well in the center of the oat mixture and fold in the tofu mixture until combined. Coat 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and spread the mixture uniformly in the dish.
  5. Bake until firm in the center and golden brown, approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely in the dish before cutting into bars with a sharp knife.

Nutritional Info Per Serving:
190 calories
8 g fat
<1 g saturated fat
29 g carbohydrate
4 g protein
3 g dietary fiber
55 mg sodium


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