Remember PowerBars? I got my fill of them while I was on the rowing team in college. Two afternoons a week, our workouts would move from the boathouse to the weight room, where following our workout, we were treated to handfuls of free energy bars; chocolate, vanilla crisp, peanut butter, and the tasty Harvest variety.
Now that I’ve shifted to a sport that requires even more fueling before, during, and after workouts, I feel fortunate that the athletic food industry has taken off, presenting us with many more options. Most of these options actually taste pretty darn good, but, in my mind, are still second to eating real food, which is why I’ve taken to making my own bars. I admit that I’m not doing anything original here, so I’m sure I don’t have to point out that making your own bars is less expensive than buying them, and provides you with endless options for customization so that you can have it your way.
Still, many of the bar recipes I’ve come across produce a bar too dense for my liking, and go down more like hippie health food than tasty ride treat. This recipe offers a bit of both. The large amount of crisped rice yields a lighter bar that won’t sit in your stomach, and you can switch up the dried fruit and nuts, substitute another nut butter for the almond butter, or even use agave instead of honey. While the recipe is not quite paleo-approved, you can easily adapt it to be vegan and gluten-free.
Better Power Bars: (adapted from recipe here )
1.5 cup rolled oats
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup raw sliced almonds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
3 cups brown or regular rice crispies
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup dried apricots, thinly sliced
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup honey
1 cup almond butter
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Toast the oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, and pumpkin seeds until lightly golden brown. (I recommend that you toast them separately because they each brown at different rates.) Combine toasted ingredients with the crisped rice, coconut, apricots, and cranberries in a large bowl.
In a small saucepan, heat the almond butter and honey until they are warm enough to combine – do not cook or boil. Stir in the cinnamon and salt, then pour over the oat, fruit, and nut mixture. Stir gently to combine, but do not crush the crisped rice.
Turn into a parchment-lined 9 × 13 inch baking dish and press the mixture evenly and firmly into the dish without crushing the crispies. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours. Cut into squares to serve.
It’s best to store these bars in the refrigerator rather than at room temperature, but they can be tightly wrapped and frozen.
*From Embrocation contributor, Joy Stark