If it comes to following a healthy diet, there are numerous recommendations on the market. Among the simplest, however, is this — eat the rainbow, and homemade bars are the perfect way to do it.
What exactly does it mean to eat the rainbow?
All you need to do is include a wide array of colorful vegetables and fruits into your everyday diet. The most vibrant foods on the planet are also the most nutritious, so making sure to eat a variety of them will help to ensure that your diet remains balanced.What better way to eat the rainbow compared to enjoy a homemade fruit bar? Below you’ll find three yummy recipes for homemade”consume the rainbow” fruit bars.
What Makes Fruit So Colorful?
The colors found in certain fresh fruits and vegetables give you a clue about the nutrients they contain. For example, red, blue, and purple fruits tend to be rich in anthocyanins – these are antioxidant compounds that protect your cells against free radical damage and reduce your risk for heart disease, cancer, and stroke.
Orange and yellow fruits are rich in carotenoids – compounds that boost your immunity and protect you against heart disease and vision problems. Green fruits get their color from chlorophyll and indoles as well as other nutrients like Vitamins A, K, and C as well as folate. Even white fruits and vegetables are rich in healthy plant compounds!
“Eat the Rainbow” Fruit Bars Three Ways
Any way you slice them, homemade fruit bars are a much healthier option than more store-bought versions. When you make your own fruit bars at home, you can select your ingredients to ensure that they are healthy and you can adjust the recipe to account for your preferences.
Looking for a simple way to increase your daily intake of fresh, colorful fruits? Try these “eat the rainbow” fruit bars three ways.
Baked Oat and Fruit Bars
These baked oat and fruit bars are a homemade version of the cereal bars you might be used to eating for breakfast. Feel free to use whatever flavor of jam you prefer or make your own jam using a mixture of your favorite fruits.
- 1 cup whole-wheat flour
- ¾ cup old-fashioned oats
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup butter, chopped
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons honey or agave
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup homemade or organic fruit jam
- Almond milk, as needed
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Whisk together the whole-wheat flour, oats, cinnamon, and salt in a mixing bowl.
- Cut in the butter with a fork or pastry cutter until a crumbled mixture forms.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, yogurt, honey, and vanilla until well blended.
- Stir the wet ingredients into the dry then add water 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture comes together into a ball of dough.
- Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and roll it to 1/8-inch thickness.
- Cut the dough into rectangles about 4-by-4.5 inches.
- Spoon a tablespoon of jam into the middle of each square, brush the edges with almond milk.
- Fold the long sides together and pinch them together in the middle, sealing the dough.
- Pinch the edges together to seal the dough then turn it seam-side down on the baking sheet.
- Cover the baking sheet and freeze for 10 minutes then brush the tops with almond milk.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the tops are lightly browned then cool for 10 minutes.
- Store the bars in a lidded glass container between sheets of parchment.
Mixed Fruit Leather
You probably remember fruit roll-ups from your childhood – these are a healthy, homemade version! Feel free to use your favorite fresh fruit or a mixture of several in making these fruit leathers.
- 4 cups fresh fruit, chopped
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Sweetener, to taste
- Combine the fruit and water in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer.
- Cook on low heat, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes until the fruit is cooked through.
- Mash the fruit with a potato masher and stir in the lemon juice then sweeten to taste.
- Simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes until the fruit puree has thickened.
- Spoon the mixture into a food processor and blend smooth then adjust sweetness, if needed.
- Spread the mixture in a plastic-lined rimmed baking sheet to no more than ¼ -inch thickness.
- Let the mixture dry in the oven at the lowest temperature (140°F is ideal) until it is dry and leathery – this could take anywhere from 8 to 12 hours.
- When the leather is done, roll it up in the plastic and cut into slices to serve.
Nutty Dried Fruit Bars
These nutty dried fruit bars are an excellent source of healthy energy. Feel free to use whatever dried fruit you have on hand but dried cherries, cranberries, and raisins tend to work best.
- 1 cup raw nuts (cashews or walnuts work well)
- 1 cup dried fruit (unsweetened is best)
- 1 cup pitted Medjool dates
- Toast the nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until lightly browned then cool completely.
- Combine the toasted nuts with the dried fruit and dates in a food processor.
- Pulse several times to chop the ingredients then blend for 30 seconds.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl then process for 1 to 2 minutes until it forms a sticky ball.
- Transfer the dough to a piece of plastic wrap and press into an 8-by-8-inch square.
- Wrap and chill the dough overnight then cut into 8 to 16 bars.
- Individually wrap the bars in waxed paper or plastic then store in the fridge.
Download the recipes for the fruit bars here.
Want to learn more about the benefits of colorful fruits and vegetables? Read about it here!