Chia energy bars

Chia seeds are all over the health blogosphere these days, so much so that I was beginning to think they were a fad superfood.  But then Brendan Brazier included them in Thrive Fitness, and with all the research he does for his books and career, I tend to trust ol’ B-squared when it comes to nutrition.

The problem, for me, is that chia gels in liquid.  I’ve tried it in chia fresca, or iskiate, and then in some Thrive Fitness sports drinks.  And it’s fine; I can tolerate it, but I just don’t really enjoy drinking those little globs of chia snot.  So I was really excited to find that Thrive Fitness includes some energy bar recipes with chia, and Erin and I tried one out yesterday while we were snowed in.  (You’ll see that the recipe calls for salba, which is white chia, the heirloom variety of chia seed that Brendan recommends.)

As I was gathering the ingredients, I couldn’t resist taking a photo; it’s not often so much nutrition gathers in one place.  It’s kind of like a nerdy All-Star game:

chia energy bar ingredients photo 1024x768

Starting from the bottom and going clockwise, that’s white chia, sunflower seeds, raw cacao (substituted for carob powder), dates, toasted buckwheat flour (substituted for soaked or sprouted buckwheat, so mine isn’t quite raw), ground flaxseed, and hemp protein powder in the middle. (By the way, you can get all of this stuff at iHerb.com and get five dollars off your first purchase if you use my coupon code, RAZ652.)

Here’s the recipe.

Carob Strawberry Chia Energy Bar

(from Thrive Fitness, reprinted with permission)

  • 1 cup fresh dates (or substitute soaked dried dates)
  • 1/4 cup raw carob powder (or substitute roasted carob powder)
  • 1/4 cup hemp protein
  • 1/4 cup salba (white chia seeds)
  • 1/4 cup strawberries
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup sprouted buckwheat (or substitute cooked) (optional)
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries

Process everything except buckwheat and frozen strawberries in a food processor.  After processing, work in buckwheat and frozen strawberries with your hands, then shape and cut.

chia energy bars photo 1024x768

Brendan gives the warning that the moisture of your dates and berries will vary, so you might need to add more of the dry ingredients or the wet ingredients to get the right texture.  We doubled the amount of ground flaxseed to make the mixture easier to work with, and as I wrote above, I toasted some buckwheat flour since I didn’t have whole buckwheat to sprout or cook.

The best part about these bars: They’re completely raw and vegan, and they’re loaded with nutrients and omega-3’s.  The worst part: They need to be frozen if you don’t want them to be mushy, so they’re not really suitable for bringing on runs.  Once you’ve taken the mixture out of the food processor, you can just put them in a pan lined with parchment paper and freeze it, then cut into bars later.

The flavor is okay—since the point is the nutrition, I don’t really care about the taste as long as it’s minimally palatable.  You could probably improve it by adding some agave nectar or cutting back on the hemp protein, but then you’re either adding sugar or losing protein.

Enjoy the snotless chia!  Let me know if you come up with any flavor improvements, or a way to give them a firmer texture, unfrozen.

For more posts (and recipes) on natural sports nutrition, check out the Running Fuel page.

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Comments

  1. Very cool! They kind of look like laras (must be the dates). Glad you guys got some fun kitchen experimentation in due to the snow! Hope you have a good week
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..Rice & Beans, Goals & Superbowl =-.

  2. These look great, similar to the truffles I make, but in bar form instead of little balls. Kids love these!
    .-= meatlessmama´s last blog ..Beet Smoothie =-.

  3. They actually look tasty (although, of course, looks can be deceiving). Chia seeds are relatively new around these parts(Israel), but they’re available in specialty stores and sounds like I may need to give them a try.
    .-= Anne Moss´s last blog ..Tips for Taking a Break from the Computer =-.

  4. Enjoy the snotless chia! <— LOL! That's the #1 complaint I hear about chia pudding. *giggles*

    I'm like you, though, when it comes to eating/drinking nutritious stuff: it doesn't matter what it tastes like to me. Some people simply must have something that tastes good. I've been able to train my mind to just enjoy whatever it is for the nutrition aspect.

    Great post, Matt! :-D
    .-= Michele | aka Raw Juice Girl´s last blog ..Valentine’s Savings for E3Live Blue-Green Algae =-.

  5. I’ve also been curious about how to make room temperature-stable energy bars. Two ideas are to add warm coconut butter (which would then solidify) or a super-saturated sugar solution (which would then crystallize). Perhaps there is another way to do this with dehydration.

  6. I love dates and pop them in my mouth all the time.
    .-= Nicki´s last blog ..Your Senses – Sight =-.

    • Nicki, I’ve never actually eaten a date by itself. Supposedly, they’re good for quick energy because of the glucose. Brendan Brazier usually combines them with a slower carb like agave nectar in energy gels/drinks, so you get quick energy and then more later!

  7. i am with you…..i cannpt stand the gelatin like teture of chia…….great blog-love the shirt!

  8. Matt, you inspired me to throw down my first batch of energy bars (continuing to wait out snowpocalypse too). Bars are cooling in the fridge but this was my recipe:
    1c honey
    1c PB
    4 pkgs Trader Joes whole grain cranberry oatmeal
    1/3c chopped/toasted almonds (6min @ 350)
    3tbsp ground flaxseed
    1/3c salba
    2 scoops choc protein powder
    1/4c cocoa powder
    1/4tsp vanilla
    1/4c water (in-game decision needed to mix in protein)

    mixed honey & PB over med-low heat, added oatmeal. pulled off heat and mixed everything else. put in silicone 8×8. cooling in fridge. will let you know how well they hold together

  9. Great recipe! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Matt,

    Thanks for the recipe. I used raspberries instead of the strawberries and like yourself, toasted Buckwheat flour. I also used the juices from the lime and lemon and not the zest, as I do not have a citrus zester. (Squeezing is much easier than zesting.)

    They came out perfect like cookie dough, not too sticky not too dry so, (I did add a quarter tsp of water.) there was no need to freeze. I shaped the mixture first into a log and then squared it off into four long sides by lightly dropping the ‘log’ onto the counter top, and the same with both ends.

    Taste? Delicious! Performance? Excellent! Gratitude? Of course!

    • Hey Bruce, glad you liked it! I think citrus juice is a good idea; it might contribute a lot of flavor too. I’m envious that yours didn’t need to be frozen; I’ve been eating mine out of the freezer but I’d rather eat them at room temperature. Did you have to add extra dry ingredient, like I did with flaxseed?

  11. So funny and useful to learn a new recipe for Chia snot avoiders ;-) Thank you !!
    If you would like to optimise the nutritional benefits on chia, please take a look at my website – Mila is highest grade chia with guaranteed Protein and Omega 3 levels. I am a holistic Health Coach and recommend this to my clients, particularly vegetarians and vegans.

  12. jim wilson says:

    Hey Matt, thanks for an awesome website. I’m running Oregon’s Hood to Coast relay tomorrow so I thought I would try throwing some chia seed energy bars together. I’m kind of an herbalist and nutrition freak so the ingredients are a little crazy to some, but there is sound reason for all of the ingredients. I also used a food dryer instead of an oven specifically to avoid denaturing important enzymes with excess heat. Not only do the bars not need to be frozen to keep their shape but you could pitch them at snarling dogs and retrieve them for later feasting. Here’s the ingredients:
    cacao beans
    bee pollen
    sea vegetable powder (kombu and wakame)
    turmeric (strong anti-inflammatory)
    black pepper (facilitates turmeric and other nutrient absorption)
    chipolte or other red pepper
    cinnamon
    these are dumped into a strong blender and ground/mixed into a uniform powder
    chopped dried figs
    tossed into the blender with the mix and churned again, then everything is tossed into a bowl
    chia seeds
    I filled the blender with about an equal amount of seed as the superfood concoction I just ground up. After a couple of minutes of wear and tear on the blender the seeds didn’t really look any different so I tossed them into the bowl with the rest of the mix and swirled it to a uniform mix.
    unprocessed honey
    blueberries
    just enough water to make a thin syrupy consistency
    Once again into the blender until it was as uniform as possible. The liquid is add to the dry ingredients enough to wet it all down. The result should be a gritty spicy playdough that you can hand shape into a thick round cookie (projectile :) ) and toss into a food dryer on parchment paper (clean dishcloths or whatever) and go to bed. When you wake your house will smell like a chocolate makers villa in Uruapan and you will have tasty fuel for your next trans-mountain jaunt.

    • Jim, that is a VERY curious recipe. I would like to try it but am afraid it won’t turn out not knowing quantities of ingredients…. Can you include that?

  13. Thanks man for the inspiration. I’ve bought some raw bars before but they are pretty pricey so after reading this I decided to make my own. I used raw honey as the sweetener instead on dates, I also got my chia from http://www.chiaseedsplus.com. If you use dried fruit instead of fresh, you don’t have to worry about it being all mushy and having to put it in the freezer. Overall they turned out great!

  14. So glad I found this site. My 64 y/o dad and I are running his 1st marathon in 1 week. The thing I like about this recipe is it is gluten free. He cant eat gluten and was wondering what to eat before the race. I think I just found the answer.

  15. Anne Nozzolillo says:

    Is it weird that I like the “snot”? Am I alone on this one or does anybody else? I mix chia seeds in my vanilla almond milk and eat it like pudding. I also make the homemade date and chia bars and I roll mine in coconut and oats and it makes then easier to handle.

  16. just wondering– has anyone tried to dehydrate instead of freeze? seems like that could go a long way to transportability.

  17. It seems to me that the best way to eat chia is to let a few teaspoons gell and then add that into a smoothie so it isn’t noticed, or take total advantage of the gell factor and make chia pudding! I had the understanding that we are unable to reap the benefits of the chia w/out gelling it. Much like we can’t reap the benefits of flax w/out it being ground.

  18. One way to help with the stickiness / mushiness of making these type of Raw Bars, is to dehydrate them then you are set to go for runs or anywhere you wish to take them without them being soft or sticky or mushy or frozen etc..

    The downfall of course when dehydrating is that once ingested the food will soak up the water reserves within, so we will want to make sure we drink extra water to combat this.

    But overall great way to perserve the bars some :)

  19. Delicious!
    What’s the nutritional information? I would love to know that for my own records

Trackbacks

  1. [...] up: chia seeds in a smoothie, and chia energy bars, an idea I got from Matt at No Meat Athlete. Matt says he came to try this recipe to avoid the “little globs of chia snot.” Glad [...]

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