Thursday, June 2, 2011

Make Your Own Energy Bars!

Coulda made 'em thicker? Hmmmm
Well, you can't have too much food in the middle of the wilderness right? I mean, as long as it's not near your camp. If a bear gets all the goodies I made this week, I'll be seriously bummed. I figured I needed some kind of pick me up/I'm tired/bored snack, possible stand in for breakfast (and I'm already sick of granola because I munched on it all week). I'm used to weighing everything for camping trips. Not having to carry any of this on my back will be awesome! So, maybe I've been getting a little too excited about that. So, maybe I've packed too many avocados, apples and oranges. Nah, I'll just gobble them up on day 1!

Never really got into nutri-grain, heavily grained or sweetened granola bars. But I do remember eating those nature's valley's granola bars as a kid (the peanut butter one!) annnnd I ate peanut butter Clif bars everyday in college. Wow, I was addicted. It was the only flavor I liked. The only flavor without that weird soy aftertaste. And without the crisp this and that. They were in my car, my backpack, sticky wrappers stuck in my books..

While I was traveling I got more into energy chunks (found in your local HFS bulk bins), Kind nut bars and Larabars ( of course, peanut butter cookie was on my list of favorites). They packed nicely into my suitcase/ pocket and I could eat them quickly. Oh yeah, and they were healthy and energizing. If I had two minutes to scarf down some calories, they were my lifesaver!
Small portion of my LARGE mess..

Fast forward to living in Alaska. Yes, we have access to those energy bars, luna, clif bars etc. However we don't buy them because A) even being on the more 'natural' side, they are still a processed food containing more ingredients than neccessary (some of which I can't pronounce or have to look up)... B) we've slowly stepped away from soy the last couple of years (even though we still enjoy tofu and homemade tempeh occasionally) C) they are pricey D) making our own is fun, healthy and it's satisfying every time we wean off a corporate teat. I probably have many more reasons. I'll stop there!

Just look at the back of the label of your favorite bar. Clif for example is pretty darn high in sugar. Yes, I have brown rice syrup in my cabinet, but how much would I myself put into a recipe? And, it's still sugar. And not the only one. Clif also contains barley malt extract AND Cane juice.. 3 types of sugar? At least the sugar in a Larabar for example is naturally occurring/unprocessed (dates, dried fruit). "Natural Flavors" (I'm sorry, WHAT? I hate seeing that on a label.. if it's 'natural' it doesn't need to be 'flavored.' Citric Acid, Absorbic acid, Synthetic fiber (inulin), all things I want to avoid. And I'd love to get into my new war on soy protein isolate.. that will be a whole other post. Protein is a hard subject with athletes. It's been a huge issue for me. I like Rebecca Wood 's(amazing womyn by the way!) take "All protein powders—whether they’re from rice, soy, hemp, egg or whey—are highly processed, shelf-stable ingredients.  Read “shelf-stable” as dead or lifeless. Furthermore, whey protein and whey protein isolate contain toxic MSG!"  It's a difficult thing to give up. There is a lot of information out there. A lot of research to be done. My jury is still out. Your take?

Ok, look at this:
Snickers Candy Bar has 266-280 calories (it depends according to google sources) and 28-30g of sugar.
Coca Cola 150 calories, 39 grams of sugar
Krispy Kreme Doughnut (I couldn't think of anything else!) 10g of sugar!!
Clif Bar (depending on variety) 260 calories, 20+ g of sugar
Is a Clif bar the healthier choice? Yes. I'd say so. Not to rag on Clif bars in particular, just for comparison's sake.

If you eat any of these energy bar products, I'm totally not ragging on you. This is just my personal reasoning for making my own at home!

Today I made a few different 'bars.' The first one is my hubs favorite. I used to make these: the darker ones, they were raisin/cocao and coffee.

Fun tidbit: Raw cacao is at the top of the ORAC list! Read here. Awesome post with all the amazing info on Cocao. Especially awesome for the ladies!!

Can't wait to eat all of these!
Huzbeast PB Energizer
1 C soaked/pitted dates
2 Tbs Cocao (
1/2 C Sprouted Oat Groats (or whole rolled oats)
1 tsp Maca powder (super energizing!)
4 Tbs Peanut Butter (fresh ground or natural.. remember that sugar thing?)
1 Tbs Chia gel (chia already soaked)
1 1/2 Tbs Flax meal paste (ground flax stirred with water)
1/2 tsp wheat germ
1 Tbs Cocao nibs or chocolate chips etc. (optional)

Ok, process it aaaallll together. Taste and adjust as needed. You may need a tad more peanut butter or flax or dates. You should be able to pinch a ball together and it doesn't crumble. Moist, but not sticky or dry.

Pour contents onto wax paper, (or pan) form a ball, then press firmly into a large square and stick in the freezer for 5 minutes or so. This cools the PB back down (it warms up in the processor, even if you don't notice) and helps firm things up. Now cut with a pizza cutter, wrap individually if you like.
EDIT: After a few people made these, they noticed how sticky they are. Mine were oily, but not sticky, so try one of these tips: squeeze your dates of water,  increase oats, try adding more flax meal (or dry meal instead of paste, and thanks to Cyndi on Dailymile.com for this tip: roll the end product in oats, then individually wrap. The oil softens the oats and then the bars are easier to handle! Thanks for al lof your feedback!

They are like peanut butter brownies. Energizing, healthy, protein rich brownies. Oh yeah, and you made 'em yourself! Too cool for school, right?
Just dates, cherries and pecans...
Next up.. 
Supa food for Supa Stars!
Superfood Snickerdoodles
Ok, there is nothing snickerdoodly about this, I was at a loss for fun labels.
I took my favorite basic 'larabar' recipe:

5  Dates (NOT soaked if you are trying to make 'larabars')
1/4 C Dried Cherries
1/4 C Pecans (all soaked unless otherwise noted)
and added:
1/4 C Dried Blueberries
1/2 C Pumpkin seeds
1/2 C Almonds
1 Tbs Chia Gel
1 tsp Flax meal paste (ground flax stirred with water)
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp Bee Pollen
1 tsp Maca powder

I just can't keep things simple. Sometimes, I do. The rest of the time I throw in all the good stuff I can find! Anyway, these are delicious.  Pulse in food processor (or spend two hours chopping by hand). The idea is to have a sticky dough, then dehydrate for 1-2 hours and as the water dehydrates, the flax cements the ingredients together and it's like a cookie. If you do not want to dehydrate, omit the flax and chia gel (dry would be okay) and do not soak the dates. You may need another date. Again, this is approximate, as I add in here and there as needed.

I'd love to hear your own recipes and ideas for energy bars and your take on healthy/natural protein sources. What do you use?

18 comments:

  1. Yum!!!!! I want to try these although I wonder if mine will look that goodj

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  2. Wow, these recipes sound amazing! I am totally on board with you in regards to shying away from store bought "energy bars." I never thought to compare the nutritional stats to a regular candy bar, and they are just too similar for my liking! I can't wait to try these recipes out; especially the "larabar" one, since I love them so much!

    -justagirl2005.blogspot.com (since I am having such an issue posting comments as anything other than annonymous!)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have been trying to get off Clif/Odwalla bars for a few months, but they are so convenient as a pre-workout snack after work. How long do you store the homemade energy bars for? Do you freeze them?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for this! Made the pb bars today and they are amazing. I omitted the chia and maca because i didn't have any and upped the flax a bit. They were too sticky to handle though. Any suggestions? Is it because of my subtractions? Still incredible and I will make them again!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog too! I will have to make the ice cream with strawberries added in. I do tend to add cinnamon and vanilla flavor into mine and then top with dark choc chips. YUM!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Jecca! One of my friends on dailymile rolled hers in oats, then made bars out of them, then individually wrapped them. She said the oats soften from the oils. She said that helped with the stickiness. It's a great idea! I always end up wiping my hands on my pants! Don't think it was your omissions. They are YUMMY! :)

    Yes! I've tried the cinnamon/vanilla too. Great idea with choc chips! It's endless. Anything goes! And so easy!

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  6. @ Mandy, I store them in a glass container if I'm at home. They have survived over a week in my backpack! You could definitely freeze them!

    ReplyDelete
  7. This Looks Amazing! I love the chocolate bars! tempted to try them??
    I used to have those "power bars" before I became a health nut.. =) the young unknowing child I was... lol.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Clif bars are great tasting and have some good vitamins/ingredients. I would like to see them make the packaging fit the bar though. The bar has gotten smaller over the years, but the package has stayed the same size. Just kind of annoying. It makes me feel like the company wants the customer to believe the bar in larger. Also, several other companies are lowering the sugar content without compromising taste. I believe Clif could do this as well.

    ReplyDelete
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  11. I'm a Larabar lover who want to convert to making my own. Your recipes look delish! I'm not sure where to go for the chia gel, but I'm sure I can figure that out. So are the ingredients on the Larabar labels a fraud, or what? They usually only list 3-4 ingredients! Oh, and can i use almond flour instead of the oats in the first recipe to make them Paleo? Thanks!

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