Energize Me: The Truth About Energy Bars
(P.S. You can check out the accompanying video blog on YouTube)
Your body burns through your carbohydrate storage about every two hours when you’re engaging in mid to high intensity exercise (read, getting down with your big bad self), so it’s important to refuel approximately every 90 minutes. The best fuel is an “easily digestible carbohydrate.” You can go to the store and choose from the overwhelming wall of energy bars, but most of these bars define “easily digestible carbohydrate” as refined sugar. Refined sugar is great if you want to sprint down the trail like a crazy person for twenty minutes, then bonk like no other (If you’re not familiar with “bonking,” it’s that time when your energy tanked, you just could not run any farther, hated everyone, decided exercising was the dumbest idea ever and coffee was the only thing right in the world—we’ve all been there)
I make my own energy bars so I can eliminate all refined sugars, get the proper fuel balance, and save a few bucks. The recipe requires getting your hands dirty; if you’ve got little ones around they’ll get a kick out of mashing the ingredients together.
1 1/3 c dates (approximately 40 dates)
1/2c whole raw almonds, sliced into halves and chunks
1/2c raw pumpkin seeds
1c uncooked oats
½ c raisins
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1 square unsweetened chocolate (unsweetened baking chocolate)
1 tbsp. blackstrap molasses
2 tbsp. nut butter (no sugar added)
1 tbsp. honey
9×13 or 8×10 pan (either works fine—up to your preference of how thick you want the bars to be)
In small batches, mash the dates into a paste. A pestle and mortar works great. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine the almonds, peanuts, seeds, oats, and raisins. Mix. Add the cinnamon and salt. Grate the chocolate square into the bowl. Combine well.
Add the date paste into the dry mixture. Evenly distribute the molasses, nut butter, and honey into the bowl. Using your hands, work the mixture and date paste together until you have a thick yet moldable “dough.” It will get sticky.
Cut the wax paper to be twice as long as your pan. Lay half the paper into the pan, letting the excess drape out. Place the mixture into the pan and spread as evenly as possible. Bring the excess wax paper over the top and use a rolling pin to spread evenly, pressing into the corners.
To tighten the edges, bring the paper over the top of the bars, away from the pan, and press firmly with your hand. Let the bars refrigerate for 3-4 hours. If you have a salt tooth like me, peel back the top layer of paper and sprinkle coarse salt over the bars before consuming.
After refrigeration, use a heavy knife to cut the bars into squares. One pan makes approximately 20 bars, but you can slice to your preferred size. To hit the trails, wrap each bar in saran wrap or wax paper. Uneaten bars will save in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Nutrition Information (when split into 20 bars):
A note on ingredients: The nuts, seeds, and raisins can be substituted to your preferred ingredients, however, stick with raw nuts and seeds and unsweetened dried fruit. Oil roasted nuts and sugar-sweetened dried fruit defeats the purpose of these nutritious fellows!