Arguments abound on the Internet and in my inbox to the effect of, “do granola bars contain gluten?” Because I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the topic of granola bars, I want to put an end to the argument with today’s post.
The answer is… it depends. No, that isn’t a lame answer. It does depend on who makes it and what is in the bar. If you were to look at the label of any store-bought bar, you might find a bar that has no gluten-containing ingredients in it. It makes sense, too, as most traditional granola bars are made with oats and oats are gluten-free. Yes. Oats do not contain gluten.
Oftentimes oats are processed in a plant which also processes wheat and is therefore classified as possibly containing gluten. Read the label. It can read, “processed in a plant that processes wheat”. If you are a severe celiac sufferer, you know that even a hint of gluten can cause you problems.
This is ultimately why I decided to make my own granola bars. My daughter needed to know that her food was clean – didn’t contain any gluten at all. But we wanted something that would work for a sturdier snack than a cookie.
Enter the Easy Granola Bar Recipe – my own granola bar recipe book. Actually, it’s a recipe template. X amount of sticky plus X amount of dry equals designer granola bar. That way I made sure that the oats I purchased were processed in a certified gluten-free facility.
That way if we wanted chocolate with almonds we could personalize it the way we wanted it. Oooo, and if you like white chocolate and cranberries – it’s in there. Or just nuts – it’s in there. I make one that has ginger and white chocolate that is to die for.
I hear you. My recipe template results in a chewier bar – kinda like a rice crispy treat. So that is how I designed my basic recipe. But you can definitely make a crunchy bar if you like that. Just cook the honey for longer. Or, I have even baked my bars on low heat to continue drying out the sticky binder.
(Just be warned that if you have layered in chocolate chips they might go smooshy, depending on the kind.) When I wanted a hard bar, what I did was save the chocolate till the bars were done, then sprinkled them on top. After a few minutes, the chocolate was melty and I could spread it.
So, do granola bars contain gluten? Now you know the answer!
There again, because the basic recipe is so flexible, you can add or subtract ingredients. To be dairy-free, you'd just make sure that if you are adding chocolate to your bars, that they don't contain dairy.
Try the basic recipe for free?
This comes up in a lot of questions from readers so I thought I’d address it here to the best of my ability. When the whole idea of microencapsulating something like ascorbic acid became feasible, experts all seemed to agree that straight ascorbic acid is too acidic to introduce straight into the bloodstream.
As a matter of fact, sodium ascorbate in aqueous solution is what doctors use for intravenous (IV) ascorbic acid therapy. Sodium ascorbate, a buffered form of ascorbic acid and sodium bicarbonate.
Early versions of homemade liposomal vitamin C use ascorbic acid and sodium bicarbonate. But you can buy it already buffered as sodium ascorbate so it saves the extra steps of buffering it yourself.
Yes, there is a difference! And yes, you’ll hear folks use the terms synonymously. I do but below I’ll share a bit of the thinking from both sides of the table.
There is a hot debate in health circles about the idea of calling ascorbic acid the same as vitamin C. Technically speaking, one is the molecule that is found in nature, so named Vitamin C, typically with bioflavonoids and other nutrients within the food.
And the other, ascorbic acid, is the isolated active ingredient found in vitamin C. This is then synthesized in a lab and sold in bulk. It is what is found in 99% of all supplements that contain “vitamin C”. Supplement labels will say “Vitamin C as ascorbic acid”.
Vitamin C Purists would say we should consume as much vitamin C as would be found in an orange or similar food. They would say that it is nonsense, even dangerous, to take mega doses of vitamins. They would argue that the one is no way like the other and responds differently in the body.
On the other side of the table, there are those who say ascorbic acid is essentially the same as vitamin C. They would say you’d need to drink lots of orange juice or rosehip tonic to get therapeutic levels of vitamin C. The most convenient way to get the active ingredient in Vitamin C and at therapeutic levels is to take it in the ascorbic acid form.
Therein is the difference: Therapeutic doses.
sigh… I am assuming you are not averse to taking large doses of, ahem, ascorbic acid. There is a massive amount of info out there in support of taking therapeutic megadoses and the man who discovered vitamin c and ascorbic acid, Linus Pauling, himself, took 30 to 100 grams (!) of ascorbates a day. He discovered that when he took large doses of ascorbic acid, he could alleviate if not stop symptoms of the common cold among other things. I’d say that if a man who was the recipient of not one but two Nobel Peace prizes could take such high doses, it’s safe to say we could, too.
So, let’s say you want to take massive doses of true vitamin C. That’s a lot of oranges, rose hips, and the like!
If you look at ascorbic acid on its own, not trying to compare it to Vitamin C, it still has certain properties when introduced to the bloodstream, cause amazing changes. And the fact is IV vitamin C therapy is practiced with great success the whole worldwide, using sodium ascorbate.
For the record, I call what I make in my homemade version, liposomal vitamin C, even though I use sodium ascorbate. I use the terms synonymously.
And hey, what’s the worse thing that happens if you take too much ascorbic acid?? Gas and diarrhea? Small price to pay to cut off the colds and cases of flu that are going around.