Tag Archives: energy bar

Tasty Tropical Breakfast Bars (vegan and gluten-free)

Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m obsessed with making breakfast bars. They’re just so dang simple and quick to make, they’re delicious, and they’re a fabulously healthy treat to have hanging around for those times when you need to a meal-on-the-go, be it around breakfast time or anytime, really. And they save you a lot of money too since they’re way less expensive than store-bought breakfast bars. Thanks to the addition of almond butter (which is one of the greatest super foods around – almonds lower bad cholesterol and they’re packed with protein and calcium), dried fruits, nuts, and crunchy granola, these bars really do deliver a nice boost of energy and nutrition, so they’re fantastic as sports bars, too. If ‘almond butter’ sounds bizarre to you, don’t worry – it’s just super finely ground toasted almonds; it has about the same smoothness and texture as peanut butter.

I decided to chef up a breakfast bar with a totally different consistency and flavor than the last energy bar recipe I posted – this one is denser, not-so-sticky, has a nice crunch, travels really well and features the delicious flavors of the tropics: pineapple, mango, ginger, coconut and cashews. Yum! In honor of my neighbor friend Jamie who is experiencing her first week of college (and her first taste of homesickness), I created this gluten-free, vegan Tasty Tropical Breakfast/Energy Bar recipe.  I know she’ll love them, especially in contrast to nasty dorm food, and I bet you will, too. According to Jamie’s mom, who taste-tested these bars for me: “Wow, these could be sold in stores!” Pretty nice endorsement! 🙂 John also loves, loves, loves these bars, so much so that he has requested that they become his breakfast staple every day of the week.

Special thanks to Rhonda for convincing me to try brown rice syrup as the sweetener and binding agent for these bars – it works like a charm and it’s really healthy, too! Hurray! Brown rice syrup is a far better sweetener than table sugar, and even honey, since it’s a complex carbohydrate and has a lower glycemic index than refined sugar. It also tastes delicious, especially in these bars, since they add a caramely hint. Give them a try – I know you’ll like them!

Tasty Tropical Breakfast/Sports Bars

Servings: 25 bars
Prep time: 25 minutes
Chill/set time: at least 3 hours

1.5 cups dried tropical fruits, finely chopped (I recommend a combination of pineapple, mango and a little bit of unsweetened coconut)
1  cup roasted unsalted cashews, chopped
4 cups granola clusters cereal (I used Trader Joe’s “Just the Clusters with ginger, almond and cashew granola”)
a handful of crystallized ginger, chopped (optional)
3/4 cup almond butter
1/3 maple syrup
1/3 cup brown rice syrup

Heat oven to 350. Lightly spray a 9″ square baking pan with olive oil.

Blend together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then, in a saucepan over medium high heat, stir together the almond butter, maple syrup and brown rice syrup, stirring constantly. When it begins to bubble, stir it as fast as you can and when it thickens, remove from heat and dump it in the bowl with the dry ingredients. Immediately mix it thoroughly. Scoop into your prepared pan. Press it down firmly with the back of a spatula – really put your weight into it to squish it down.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges become golden. Remove from oven and once again, press it down firmly with the back of a spatula.  Refrigerate it for at least 3 hours to allow it to fully firm up before you cut it. Once ready, turn it over onto a cutting board and with a sharp knife, chop into 24 bars. Enjoy!

This is what it looks like when you pop your breakfast bar concoction out of the pan. If you press it really well, yours will come out perfectly!

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!