Easy Energy Bars Appease the Growling Beast

While driving to the coast to kitesurf, I heard a terrible growl in the car. John and I looked at each other in shock, and then we pointed an accusing finger at each others’ stomachs. Just then, both of our growling beasts roared – our empty stomachs were very angry at us for racing out the door without eating. “Ooo, let’s stop and get a burger,” said John. I’m really not sure why, but he usually turns to meat whenever he’s dying of hunger.  Luckily, I have an emergency stash of Clif bars in the car for such occasions – I’ve learned that snacks quell his hunger for meat. But as we choked down the chalky, overly chewy, weirdly dense bars (which disconcertingly resembles the gunk that plugs up pipes), I decided right then and there to make my own energy bars from now on. How hard could it be? Turns out it’s even easier than I thought, not to mention that homemade sports bars are way tastier, and they’re less expensive too.

Unlike store bought sports bars that often rely on tons of sugar to give you a quick energy boost (followed by a sugar crash), these homemade bars feature nuts that are packed with energy, like almonds. According to WebMD, almonds are “the new power food” since they’re so nutrient-dense. And these bars also feature dried fruit, which deliver a steady stream of natural energy. Sure, there’s a little bit of sugar in these bars to bind them together and give you immediate energy, but it’s not too much. Promise! These things last for a really long time in the fridge, they transport well, and they always deliver tons of much-needed energy when you need it the most. They’re a perfect snack for kids, they’re great to take along with you for hikes, and really good for those times when you’re so hungry that you just need to stuff something in your face immediately.

Make up a batch and have it on hand next time your growling beast demands to be fed. Trust me, these taste great and they’re way more satisfying than those expensive and nasty-tasting sports bars they sell in the stores!

Cimeron’s Easy Energy Bars

3 cups of any yummy whole grain cereal (I like using a cereal with crunchy clusters)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts *
1/2 cup chopped almonds
3/4 cups chopped dried raisins, cranberries or cherries *
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

*You can make these energy bars with an infinite combination of nuts and dried fruits. I like to use classic nut/fruit blends, like: a tropical twist with dried papaya, pineapple and coconut with macadamia nuts; dried cherries and blueberries with toasted hazelnuts;  raisins and walnuts; smores style with chocolate chips and marshmallow,  etc.

Heat oven to 350, and prepare an 8″ baking pan by spraying it with olive oil. In a big bowl, mix the dry ingredients together. Then, in a small pot, mix the peanut butter, honey and syrup and cook over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil, constantly mixing it. When it hits the boiling point, whisk it fast for about a minute until it thickens up a bit. Then remove from heat and toss it in the bowl with the dry mixture and mix it thoroughly. Pour into your prepared pan and press it down firmly with the back of a spatula. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the edges turn golden. Remove from oven and press it down again with the spatula. For best results, refrigerate overnight and cut up the bars in the morning – they will be firm and not crumbly at all after overnight refrigeration. They hold up really well, so take them with you to power up wherever go!

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Categories: Recipes, Starters and sides

Author:Cimeron

Cimeron Morrissey is an award-winning magazine writer who writes about her passions, which include travel, water sports, animal rescue and food.

Operation Carnivore Conversion

This is Operation Carnivore Conversion, an ambitious and potentially hazardous project to transform my meat-loving husband into a vegetarian. Recognizing that his diet was shared by Tyrannosauruses but not by humans who live very long, he has decided - reluctantly - to try to dramatically reduce his consumption of animal-based foods. The success of this project relies on my ability to serve inventive and tasty meals that would satisfy even a femur-gnawing caveman (and to prepare them in less than 30 minutes since I don't have much time). This is a high-risk endeavor. If my husband feels deprived or underwhelmed, he will see my arms as snack-shaped objects and/or whine me to death. Failure is not an option. Oh boy, here we go!

6 Comments on “Easy Energy Bars Appease the Growling Beast”

  1. Cathy
    September 23, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

    Yum Cimaron!! I am going to make some now 🙂

  2. Rhonda
    September 29, 2012 at 12:36 am #

    Considering substitutes for the honey… Agave or brown rice syrup might work. Or maple syrup! But I’m also thinking about increasing the peanut butter and melting some into water as a kind of peanutty ‘honey’. Works well for granola, I’ll have to see how it goes in bars. 🙂

    • Cimeron
      September 29, 2012 at 12:48 am #

      I’ll be thrilled to hear if you have some luck with alternatives, Rhonda! I tried Agave but I found that the bars needed the honey to help bind it all together. With the Agave, they just fell apart. I also tried increasing the maple syrup and reducing the honey, but it was still too crumbly. Also tried a homemade huckleberry syrup in place of the maple syrup, and although it tasted delicious, the bars once again fell apart. Honey seems to be the magic binding agent, but if you’ve got some other tricks up your sleeve to give the bars a yummy ‘glue’, please do share!

      • rhonva
        September 29, 2012 at 12:55 am #

        Ah, I overlooked the maple syrup already in there. Drat. Brown rice syrup comes to mind immediately if there’s a crumbling issue… that stuff is amazing as ‘glue’! But maybe a little dense, so I’d use less than the 1/3 cup you have of the honey. Anyway, I’ll try the melted-peanut-butter version first… adding a little flour to it also helps a lot. If the bars crumble anyway I’ll just call it more granola and start on a brown rice syrup version!

      • Cimeron
        September 29, 2012 at 5:58 am #

        Where do you get your brown rice syrup, Rhonda? Whole Foods? I want to give it a try tomorrow! I am also thinking about subbing almond butter for the peanut butter to give these bars a different twist and an extra kick of energy (I love almonds!!)

      • rhonva
        September 29, 2012 at 6:15 am #

        Yes, Whole Foods. It’s delicious but remarkably sticky — call me when your hand is stuck to your hair or your nose is stuck to the spoon and you need someone to help de-syrup you. 🙂

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