Friday, August 31, 2012

Homemade Energy Bars

I've seen (and made) a couple of variations on this basic recipe and they all turned out great.  The main thing to remember is that it's very adaptable and you can add a little more honey or almond butter if it needs to be stickier, or add in some more puffed brown rice if it is too sticky.  You can play with the ingredients and amounts to get it where you need it to be.

  • The cherries are important as they are such a great recovery food for runners.  They add a wonderful sweetness to the energy bars.  Cherries are considered a "super food" because, like many red fruits, they are a good source of vitamins and minerals as well as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are antioxidants that are responsible for giving fruits their bright red color.  (source) They are also believed to help reduce the oxidative damage that occurs in muscle tissue after a strenuous workout, thus enabling the tissue to recover more quickly. This, in turn, might allow athletes to perform at a higher and more consistent level.

  • Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E, which has an anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefit. Great fuel on the run.

  • Honey of course provides a natural source of energy.  The organic sugars, glucose and fructose, aid in preventing fatigue during athletic activities.

  • Coconut reduces inflammation and supports tissue healing and repair.

  • Puffed brown rice is rich in important B vitamins, as well as significant amounts of zinc, magnesium and phosphorus. It is an excellent source of the mineral manganese, which is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates and protein and essential for a healthy nervous system

  • Nut butters provide healthy fat and various vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, niacin, magnesium, iron, selenium and zinc.  The healthy fat gives me energy and keeps me full longer which is important in a long race.

Okay, so now that we've dissected some of the ingredients, here is the recipe.  

  • 1 cup peanut butter, almond or cashew butter.
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2/3 cup dried cherries or 2/3 cup dried cranberries or 2/3 cup raisins or a combination. (I prefer just dried cherries)
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup shredded or flaked coconut
  • 3 cups puffed brown rice cereal
  • Olive oil spray, to grease pan (you can use coconut butter if you prefer)

Spray olive oil in an 8x8 pan to lightly coat, or rub coconut butter all over the pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter, honey and vanilla extract until well-combined.
Add the sunflower seeds, dried fruit, sesame seeds and coconut and combine thoroughly with the peanut butter mixture.
Gradually add the puffed brown rice cereal to this.
Firmly press the mixture into the prepared 8x8 pan; you'll need to wet your hands slightly, otherwise the mixture just sticks to them.
Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours, then cut serve or pack in individual saran wrap or plastic baggies. I wrap in saran wrap and pack in my backpack, running pack or drop bag.  These delicious little bars keeps me energized and feeling good while on a long run or out hiking.  Cut however small or large you like, but I prefer smaller sizes for easier handling.  (about 3in x 3in squares)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for posting the recipe! I'm definitely going to make these and try them on my next long trail run. And thanks for the tip on the book, too.