Shout Yes for fruit bars! A 100% whole grain bar sweetened by fruit and agave. Yes, I'm proud to say that after experimenting yesterday, there is no refined sugar (or refined flour, for that matter) in these bad boys. I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor: toasted pecan topping, glazed cranberry, raisin, and date filling, and oat based crust.
An alternative doctor I visited during my college years saved my thyroid and got me back on an incredible path of health. She taught me a lot, too, about taking care of my body. Like consciously taking refined sugars and flours out of my diet. They do very little for our bodies, are stripped of anything nutritive, and definitely weren't what our great, great grandparents and ancestors thrived on for thousands of years. Now a days, refined sugar in every shape and form can be found not only in the obvious places like cookies and candy, but in fruit cups, added to juice, yogurt, peanut butter, etc., etc.
Agave nectar is a natural sweetener like honey and maple syrup, but much better for you. (This is a great website to introduce you to agave.) For me, it is at least another option to use when I bake something special that is sweet. For years now, I've acclimated my kids to less and less sugar in the things that I bake. I've noticed for myself that regular store-bought products like cookies and cakes are way too sweet for my tolerance now.
This recipe for Chewy Fruit Bars is similar to this chewy fruit bar recipe, except the one I used calls for ground up oats instead of flour for the crust. And the pecans are reserved for the topping in my recipe. Other than that, the recipes are pretty close.
Here are my tricks for substituting Agave for white sugar:
- Since agave is much sweeter than sugar, you need 2/3 c. of agave for every 1c. of sugar in a recipe.
- That is fine and all, but I still think most recipes are too sweet so I back off a bit more. When it called for 1/2 c. of confectioners' sugar, I put in 1/8 c. of agave. It was just right for the bar's crust and filling.
- Because agave is a liquid, replacing it in place of sugar changes the consistency of the recipe. You'll need to reduce some of your liquids in the recipe or, as I did, add more dry ingredients. I added 1/4 c. of oats to make up for the extra liquid in the crust. Once the crust started to pull together in the electric mixer, I knew I had the right consistency.
I'm thrilled about this discovery that I can adjust most indulgent recipes to fit into the parameters I set for my family for the least amount of refined sugar and flour going in their diet. The bottom line is that we feel different after a special snack, a treat that is more wholesome. We can identify all of the real flavors that went into the treat, instead of the overwhelming "sweet" taste followed by a little bit of flavor. Eating is more of a slower, enjoyed experience as I watch them take the first bite of something they've helped make.
Isn't that the way food was intended to be eaten?