Cooking with Raina: Heart-Healthy Granola Bars

During February's Cooking with Raina segment on the Breakfast Show, Southeast Hospital dietitian Raina Childers explained the benefits to your heart after eating lowfat foods.  She whipped up a "heart-healthy" granola bar.  She also explained the difference between good and bad chocolates.  In this month of candy and with Easter chocolates around the corner, Raina says indulge on the dark chocolate, but don't overdo it.

Raina's Cranberry Flax Granola Bars

Ingredients:
  • ½ cup of brown sugar
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup pureed prunes (use baby food)
  • 3 egg whites
  • ¼ cup ground flax seed
  • 2 ½ cup regular oatmeal
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate chips
Directions:
  • Blend peanut butter, pureed prunes, egg whites, and stir in flax, oatmeal, cinnamon, and salt.
  • Once well mixed, blend in cranberries, white chocolate chips.
  • Spray a 9 x 13 pan, and pat down the mixture into the pan with wet hands.
  • Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees or until set.
  • Cut as soon as removing from the oven. Once cooled remove the bars from the pan.
Yields: 15 servings (bars)
Nutrition Information:  137 calories, 18 grams of Carbohydrate, 6 grams of Protein, 7 grams of fat and 100 mg of Sodium.
                                         Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate
Dietitian Raina Childers says lthough eating a Dark Chocolate treat seems indulgent and against the rules of good nutrition, it is actually a rich source of healthy phytochemicals. (Phytochemicals are naturally occurring compounds found in plant based foods.)
Dark chocolate is high in the phytochemicals known as flavonoids. Research has shown that a daily consumption of approximately 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate can provide the following health benefits:
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Decrease in cholesterol's ability to gather in blood vessels
  • Decrease in risk of blood clots
  • May decrease the immune system's inflammatory response which can negatively affect heart health
For example if you ate 2 Dove® Dark Chocolate Promises® daily (1.41 ounces) you would receive more perks for your body than just delicious taste.
Note of Caution: Some is very good, more is definitely NOT better. Enjoy!---- Raina Childers