Weekend survival guide: Treats to keep you on track

Jan. 27, 2012 at 2:11 PM ET

Michelle Hainer /
Try these homemade granola bars for a filling snack.

You may have stayed with your diet all week, but come the weekend, those cravings can be overpowering. Here, we share three recipes for tasty treats to throw into your weekend mix.

If you’re looking for a quick breakfast that’s packed with protein and healthy fats, bake a batch of these bars today! Not only are they seriously delicious, but they’re easy enough to eat on the go, or even as a post-workout snack. What I love about these bars is that they’re really versatile. I found the basic recipe on Smitten Kitchen and have made several different versions, using whatever combination of nuts and dried fruit I have in my pantry. Be sure to use 2 to 3 cups of nuts and/or fruit to get the chewy texture just right.

Homemade chewy granola bars (makes about 16 bars)

  • 1 2/3 cup quick rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, finely ground in a food processor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 dried apricots
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup (make sure it’s high fructose free)
  • 1 tablespoon water

Note: I pulsed the nuts, fruits and coconut for a bit in my food processor so that the pieces would be a little smaller. Not necessary, but helpful.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8″ x 8″ pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the sides. Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter, liquid sweeteners and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter, if you’re using it) until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it.)

Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan but they’ll set once cool.

Let the bars sit in their pan on a cooling rack. (Alternately, after about 20 minutes you can use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way. This can speed the process up.)

Once cool, use a serrated knife to cut the bars into squares. If bars seem crumbly, chill them in the fridge for 30 minutes, which will fully set the “glue,” then cut them while they are cold. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.

Nutrition  info per bar: 224 calories, 13g fat, 25 g carbohydrates, 5g protein, 130mg sodium

Michelle Hainer /

I’m currently obsessed with almond butter (especially the kind you can grind yourself at Whole Foods). Almond butter is rich in heart healthy monounsaturated fats and can reduce cholesterol levels. (Did I mention that it’s also amazingly tasty?) If you want to save a few carbs, only use one slice of toast for an open-faced sandwich.

Almond butter and banana sandwich

  • 2 slices multigrain toast
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • ½ banana, sliced

 Nutrition info: 393 calories, 21 g fat, 43 g carbohydrates, 12 g protein, 223 mg sodium

I discovered this recipe a few years back and have made these burgers several times since. The cumin gives the patties a decidedly Middle Eastern flavor so I often serve them in mini pitas falafel-style. In the photo below I used Arnold Multi-Grain Sandwich Thins. Don’t skip the lime mayo. It adds a ton of flavor!

Michelle Hainer /

Bulgur wheat and black bean burgers (Makes 6 patties)

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus additional for brushing
  • 1/2 cup bulgur
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup walnuts (2 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro sprigs
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • Sandwich thins or mini pitas

Lime mayonnaise

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice

Cook half of the onion with 1/4 teaspoon salt in oil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add bulgur and water and cook, covered, over low heat until water is absorbed, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in beans and soy sauce.

Pulse bulgur mixture, walnuts, garlic, cilantro, cumin, cayenne, a rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and remaining onion in a food processor until finely chopped. Form rounded 1/2 cups of mixture into 6 patties. Chill at least 10 minutes. Note: If the mixture is too sticky to work with, add a ¼ cup or more of panko breadcrumbs.

While patties chill, stir together mayonnaise, zest and juice. Before grilling, brush patties with olive oil on both sides. Cook on a grill pan or cast iron skillet about 8 minutes. Serve with pita and mayonnaise.  

Nutrition info: 346 calories, 13 g fat, 47 g carbohydrates, 15 g protein, 381mg sodium

Lime mayo: 38 calories, 3g fat, 70mg sodium

More healthy eats: