Energy or Protein bars are a big industry for the sports scene. Many athletes rely on them to get them through a workout or bicycling event. Unfortunately the very thing that we assume is healthy for us can often be laden with chemicals and preservatives that we might not want. And many have a high sugar content or are full of ingredients we simply can’t pronounce, let alone know what they are.
I have to be honest and tell you that I’m not a big fan of protein bars. Many that I have tried have a weird taste, are too sweet, have way too much fruit in them, and sit like a lead ball in my stomach. That’s not to say there are not some good tasting ones out there, but they often come with a hefty price tag. Ranging from $.99 to over $3 a bar, it can tend to put a dent in your pocketbook. But when I’m out bicycling I like to bring a snack with me to stave off hunger.
With that in mind I searched for a recipe that was simple, with natural ingredients, and tasted good, that I could make myself. I love to bake so it was a no-brainer for me, but even those of you that are not partial to cooking or baking can whip these out in no time.
When I found Ellie Krieger’s recipe for Energy Bars, I decided to give it a try. The Food Network star promised that hers were “true fruit, nut, and grain bars—chewy, crunchy, and satisfying, with just the right touch of sweetness, provided by real maple syrup.” Let me assure you that she was telling the truth. My husband could hardly wait for them to cool enough to cut before he tried one. The smell was heavenly with the robust scent of cinnamon and grains. The taste was fantastic and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t like a lot of dried fruit in her bars!
The recipe makes 24 bars at a cost of about $.27 a piece and took less than an hour to mix and bake-honest! They can be held in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days or individually wrapped and placed in a freezer bag, frozen for up to 3 months, and taken out as needed.
Here’s the recipe from Ellie’s Eat Smart magazine from Fine Cooking:
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
½ cup shelled unsalted raw sunflower seeds
½ cup toasted wheat germ
¼ cup whole-grain pastry flour or whole-wheat flour
½ cup dried apricots
½ cup raw almonds
½ cup raisins
½ cup pitted dried dates
½ cup nonfat dry milk
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Place all the ingredients, except the maple syrup and eggs, in a food processor and pulse until everything is finely chopped. Add the syrup and eggs and pulse until the mixture is well combined. It will resemble a coarse paste.
Transfer to the baking pan and spread evenly to cover the bottom. (If using a rubber spatula to do this, I would spray it with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Otherwise you can use a piece of parchment, which is what I did because I didn’t think to spray my spatula first.) Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then cut into 24 bars (3 x 1 ½ inches).
Total Fat: 5G
Excellent source of Manganese, good source of Fiber, Phosphorus, Protein and Thiamin.
These are so versatile that you could easily replace a fruit, nut or seed with your favorite and not alter the outcome. Just be sure to keep the same amounts for the item you are substituting. These are something the kids are going to love and you don’t have to feel guilty letting them indulge. So the next time you need a protein bar for your next bicycling outing or just when you are out and about with no time to eat, just bake up a batch of these to have on hand and enjoy knowing exactly what was in that bar.