The Ultimate Energy Bar Formula

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Three different bars made using the formula. Do they look like they have beans in them?

Recipes are great.  But formulas are where it’s at.

Recipes allow even brand new cooks to produce something that’s really good, or at least something that doesn’t entirely suck. You can take a recipe that an expert chef created and reproduce in your home exactly the same dish, without the years of training. Score.

The problem with recipes, though, is that it’s easy to rely on them too much, especially if you’re like me and you’re scared to mess with them.  Eventually you find yourself stuck in a box, where you eat the same thing over and over and never venture beyond the safe comfort of your trusty recipes.

This was my problem with smoothies for a long time: I’d find a recipe for one I liked, make it every day for a month, and then get so sick of it that one day I’d simply revolt.

Skip the smoothie. Go to Starbucks. Coffee and a bagel. Not a good start to the day.

Eventually, I stepped back from the “month of smoothies, month of Starbucks” routine. I figured out what the smoothies I liked all had in common, and came up with the Perfect Smoothie Formula. This way I could switch in different ingredients and never run out of smoothie ideas or get sick of the same one over and over.

First smoothies, now energy bars

My wife and I had the same problem with my sister Christine’s homemade energy bar recipe, part of the Sweet Tooth Friday series she used to write for No Meat Athlete before she got fired law school intervened. We used to make these energy bars all the time (and in bulk for bringing on road trips), and they’ve earned themselves more than a few fans among NMA readers too.

And if you remember Christine’s Sweet Tooth Friday posts, you know that she’s got a talent for sneaking beans and other seemingly-gross stuff into bars and desserts to make them really healthy and still taste good (remember black bean brownies?). Her energy bars are no different — delicious and wholesome, and even packing a decent amount of protein.

So it’s a great recipe. But unfortunately, you can only eat the same energy bar so many times before it makes you want to ralph.

And so I asked Christine to take a break from law school to help me out. (I was thinking a whole semester, but she knocked it out in a day.)

This energy bar formula is what she created, and it’s fantastic. In the basic recipe below, Christine lists the amounts of each type of ingredient. Then underneath that, she suggests several ingredients of each type, which you can mix and match to come up with your own energy bars (and feel free to try others). Finally, she gives a few examples of bars she’s made, to give you a few ideas.

The Ultimate Energy Bar Formula

  • 1-pound can of beans, drained and rinsed (or 1.5 cups cooked beans)
  • ½ cup binder
  • ¼ cup sweetener
  • ¼ cup soft sweet fruit
  • 1 teaspoon of extract (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of dry spice (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1.5 cups of oats (you can toast them if you want but I can’t tell the difference)
  • 1 cup dry base ingredient
  • 1 cup stir-ins

In a food processor, combine beans, binder, sweetener, soft fruit, extract, spice, and salt until smooth.  Add the oats and dry base ingredients and pulse just to combine.  Add stir-ins and pulse again just to combine.  If the consistency seems spreadable, you’re good.  If it’s too dry, add 1/4 cup of water; if it’s too runny, add an additional 1/4 cup of the dry base ingredient.

Grease 13×9 pan with baking spray or rub with 1 tablespoon oil, then spread mixture into pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

Note: You’ll have the most success if you use unsalted, unsweetened versions of the ingredients, and control the sweetness and saltiness through the sweetener and added salt.

Recommended beans

  • White beans
  • Black beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Adzuki beans

Recommended binders

  • Almond butter
  • Peanut butter
  • ¼ cup of ground flax seed mixed with ¼ cup water
  • Pureed pumpkin
  • Mashed avocado

Recommended sweeteners

  • Maple syrup
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Agave nectar
  • Honey (if you’re not vegan)

Recommended soft, sweet fruit

  • Applesauce
  • Mashed banana (about half of one)
  • Chopped dates (remove the pits!)
  • Crushed pineapple

Recommended optional extracts

  • Vanilla
  • Almond
  • Lemon
  • Coconut
  • Coffee

Recommended dry spices

  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg
  • Cardamom
  •  Instant coffee

*For stronger spices like nutmeg and cardamom, use just a ¼-½ teaspoon and combine with less intense spices like cinnamon.

Recommended dry base ingredient (a combination is usually best)

  • Protein powder (we’re fans of hemp, rice, and pea protein, and usually use Life’s Basics Plant Protein blend)
  • Brown rice flour
  • Spelt flour
  • Cocoa (max ½ cup)
  • Whole-wheat flour
  • Buckwheat flour

Recommended stir-ins

  • Shredded coconut
  • Dried cranberries
  • Raisins
  • Dried apricots
  • Chopped nuts
  • Cacao nibs
  • Dry cereal
  • Crushed pretzels
  • Chocolate chips

So that’s the basic formula! To help get you started, here are three variations Christine came up with.  For each of them, follow the same procedure from above for mixing and baking.

Example #1: chocolate black bean happy bars

  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed (about 1.5 cups)
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ¼ cup agave
  • ¼ cup mashed banana
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups of oats
  • 1/2 cup cocoa + ½ cup brown rice flour
  • ½ cup shredded coconut + ½ cup raisins

Example #2: cranberry-pistachio protein bars

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup binder: ¼ cup of ground flax seed with ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup agave nectar
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups of oats
  • 1 cup vanilla protein powder
  • ½ cup pistachios + ½ cup dried cranberries

Example #3: maple pumpkin health bars

  • 1 can of great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup pureed pumpkin
  • ½ cup maple syrup (Christine used more maple syrup in place of the sweet fruit here, for more maple flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups of oats
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1 cup raisin bran cereal

So there you go, three examples to get you started.  But really, the point is for you to create your own, using the basic formula as the framework.  So I hope you’ll do that, and let us know what you come up with!

I’m excited about this formula idea … now we’re trying to think of other things to come up with easy formulas for lots of varieties.  Any requests?

[Update: NMA reader Andrew went the extra mile for us and put together a spreadsheet that calculates the nutritional information for any combination of ingredients you can come up with. You simply enter the nutritional information for each ingredient you use, as well as how much you used, and the spreadsheet spits out the numbers per serving. It even calculates the cost if you put that information in! Feel free to download the spreadsheet for your own use. Thanks Andrew!]

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Comments

  1. Great formula! I too often find myself turning to a larabar or an Odwalla superprotein bar in the no man’s land between 3-4pm. I miss Christine’s Sweet Tooth Friday posts, though honestly her Rice and Beans five ways post is still the one I turn to most often. (Hope law school is going well!) Michael Ruhlman has written a book called “Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking” which you might like. I’m not sure how relevant a lot of it is to vegan cooking, but it’s interesting and definitely speaks to your preference of formulas vs. recipes.

  2. Excellent! The formula approach works perfect for a college kid :) Can’t wait to try my hand at these. Thanks for sharing.

    Take Care

  3. Ah yes! Been dying to make my own bars on a consistent basis. No excuses now!

  4. I’m making some tonight with the kids, wonder what they come up with. Standby…

  5. Awesome! I have been buying pineapple bio bars here in Germany and I can’t wait to go buy the ingredients tomorrow and try making some of these. Thank you and your sister for an alternative (I am getting sick of the pineapple bars)

  6. Margaret Evans says:

    do they need to be refrigerated?

  7. Love this!! How about a veggie burger formula?!

    • Kristy Doyle says:

      Oh yes please! :)

      • Thank you for this great formula. I am in the kitchen right now mixing away. I am going to use agave today for my sweetner but wondered if I could use Stevia… what are your thoughts?

        • Christine Frazier says:

          If you want to use stevia, I would suggest doubling the “soft sweet fruit category” to bring it to 1/2 a cup, eliminating the liquid sweetener, and adding just a pinch-1/8 of a teaspoon of stevia.

          Start with just that little bit and taste the batter, and then decide if you want to add more. My experience with stevia is that it is always more potent than I expect.

          Check out this post on subbing in stevia in baked goods: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/stevia-vegan-banana-bread/

          Thanks!
          Christine

  8. Kristy Doyle says:

    I assume that oats would fall into the dry base ingredients category? It’s in one of the example recipes but it’s not listed in any category.

    (Great blog though, I can’t wait to try all the combinations!)

    • Christine Frazier says:

      The oats are their own category in the formula- I use them every time.

      If you wanted, you could grind additional oats and use it as “oat flour” for the dry ingredients, and then also include the other 1.5 cups of regular oats.

      Thanks!

  9. Vendela Bonus says:

    So excited to try these formulas!!! just a side question, do you have an idea the calorie count in a serving of these?

    • i counted the calories of the total ingredients and, rounding up, it was 3,000 for the pan. i just divided into 12 portions and put them in baggies so I register 250 calories per portion. It’s probably a little high but I’d always rather err on the high side.

  10. Love the flexibility with the “formula”! Thanks for sharing!

  11. LOVE this, Matt! Thanks to you AND Christine! (Clearly, her talent is being wasted at law school!)

  12. If you’re really into the cooking via formula approach, check out the cookbook Ratio. It’s all about breaking away from recipes and looking at blueprints for creating dishes. The ingredients are listed not as amounts, but as a Ratio (as in one part X, two parts Y) so that the ‘recipe’ can be adapted to whatever size of a batch you want to make.

    Taking this approach, you can look up, for example, the cookie ratio/recipe/blueprint, find out the ingredients/quantities necessary for a basic cookie, and personalize the recipe based on the type of cookie you want to make. I feel like I learned a lot about cooking and how to create recipes from reading this book.

  13. This is exactly what I have been looking for! Thank thank thank!

  14. Casi Leigh says:

    You, sir, are a pip; Miss Christine, bless you!!

    My fiance started law school this semester and I went back for a second bachelor’s. The second highest thing on my household to do list right now was to find a really good energy bar recipe and make batches to last us. Thanks for letting me cross that one off! :)

  15. I just threw a batch together with peanut butter and honey nut cheerios! Turned out awesome!

  16. This is AWESOME. I’m bookmarking it and coming back when I have a hankering for homemade bars. Thanks!

    • I love that word “hankering”! LOL But I live in the Pacific Northwest and I usually get a funny, confused look whenever I use it :)

  17. Thank you, this is awesome! The pumpkin bars sound delicious. I can’t wait to try this.

    Your “A Grain, a green, a bean” piece is also a formula. Maybe you could expand upon that.

    P.S. I see you will be at VegFest in DC? Hope to meet you there!

  18. This is awesome! Thanks for sharing. I can’t wait to experiment with the different combinations. A while back you had a post about a DIY energy gel. Is there a way to formula-ize that to create different flavors? Or is it okay to do a 1:1 swap with different fruit juices?

  19. Excellent. Great article and fantastic approach. I cooked a batch of the chocolate black bean happy bars and LOVE them. I’m curious as to what combinations have worked with hemp protein. I’m always looking for a way to incorporate this into my meals. Right now, I’m using it in a Hemp-Jalapeno-Kale savory smoothie.

    Thanks!

  20. Great article Matt! And I’ve been making the Pinto Pinole bars from the online e-book I got from you and substituting a variety of beans in and out (depending on what’s in the cabinet at the time) with great success. I actually cut the bars up and store in a ziploc in the fridge for several weeks without any issue. I do this because I usually only have one a day so they last a while.

  21. I was WONDERING what happened to those Friday posts! Thanks for getting her back for a bit for this “recipe”!

  22. I love this! I’m going to start making bars, ASAP. I’ve been wanting to find a good recipe for my son who won’t eat dried fruit (and myself who can’t) so I love the idea of using cereal or crushed pretzels instead. Thank you. :-)

  23. Christiane says:

    I’m gluten-intolerant and can’t eat oats. Is there a substitute? Thanks!

    • Christine Frazier says:

      The point of the oats is to provide structure to the bars, without being perfectly smooth like cookies, and without adding a new taste profile.

      To fill that purpose, I would suggest something like puffed rice cereal (gluten-free rice krispies) or puffed millet cereal. You might also try slivered almonds.

      Thanks!

  24. Dates also make a GREAT binder, as well as a sweetener. I had never though of putting beans into my homemade energy bars before. Not so sure I would like it, but I’m also not a big bean eater.

  25. Healthy1Maui says:

    Wondering if this could be made raw? With all of these great ingredients I would hate to kill the nutrients in the oven.

    • Christine Frazier says:

      Cooking helps keep the bar together, so to make them raw you need more “stickiness,” which you can get by increasing the binder or sticky sweetener (maybe 2/3 cup binder and 1/3 cup sweetener) and by decreasing the dry ingredients.

      Additionally, things like flour do not taste good unless baked, so you could omit the dry category completely, or just protein powder/cocoa/nut flour.

      But just to be clear, I haven’t tested this formula with these substitutions or as a raw bar. I would suggest taking a look at this recipe for an example and experimenting from there: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/homemade-granola-bars/

      Thanks!

  26. Hello Matt! Can you tell us a bit more about your favorite protein powder? The above “energy bar recipe blog” mentions that you are a fan of hemp, rice and pea protein. I believe this is what Brendan Brazier uses to satisfy his protein needs. Is there any way that you to mention a specific formula that one could use to prepare H-R-P protein powder at home? Whatever you share with us is always appreciated. Thanks!

    • Sure Wayne! Hemp is my favorite, because I actually like the “earthy” taste and it’s the closest I can find to a whole food (it’s just ground hemp seeds after the oil is removed). But it’s expensive, and not much protein per serving.

      Brendan’s Vega Sport Performance Protein is a fantastic blend of all three (I believe). Also not cheap though.

      Recently I’ve been using a “Soy-Free Vegetable Protein Blend” from Vitamin Shoppe. Only problem is it’s based on some isolates, which aren’t even close to whole foods and not nearly as good as the others I’ve mentioned. But it packs a lot of protein and the price is right.

      • Hey Matt! Thanks for sharing what you like about protein powder particularly hemp protein. Since this blog got me curious about having the best “homemade” vegan protein powder, I took the opportunity to reread Brendan’s book, The Thrive Diet. Here is what I figured based on my interpretation about his choice of protein powder. I should try adding pea and rice protein to hemp protein as he suggests. The amounts are 1 tbsp hemp protein, 4 tsp pea protein and 2 tsp rice protein. If you are familiar with Brendan’s book, did I interpret his formula correctly? Looking forward to hearing from you once again!

      • Matt, Try the web site trueprotein.com. I’m impressed looking at it, much cheaper than anyplace else and they have what looks like a good pea protein with 24 gm. of protein and they have quite a few flavors and a natural stevia sweetener or unsweetened if you want. You can pick whatever flavor or sweetener you like. I haven’t bought any yet but it’s on my things to do. I like hemp also but I would like to mix the pea protein with it.

        • Thanks Terri! I’ve looked at a few of these different energy bar sites. The price always seems so much higher than doing it yourself, but I guess it’d be a good way to get ideas for new bars!

          • No sorry I guess I put the comment in the wrong area since this is about bars, which they look awesome and I’m excited to try them. It was your remark about protein powders and you mentioned Thrive which I tried and liked but can’t afford that all the time. The website has some other things but you can get a Pea protein powder for less than $10 and you can’t find that even in the stores like Vitamin Cottage.

  27. Pretty sure this is going to revolutionize my energy bar experience :) Thank you, Christine (and Matt)!

  28. This is great! I used the formula last night to have some bars for rides this week/weekend. Worked like a charm! You just saved my girlfriend and I tons of money, and will hopefully make fueling that much more enjoyable!

  29. I have flax meal (bought for another recipe). Is that close enough to ground flax seed? So can I use thati n the cranberry-pistacho protein bar as the binder w/ the water? Anyone know? I am very excited for these recipes and will make a batch this weekend!
    Kay

  30. Amazing!! As a non-chef, I have experimented with different bars and recipes but some never come out quite right. I can’t wait to use this formula to throw together my own combinations using what I already have on hand! I am thinking black beans, apple sauce, flax seed, protein powder, and cocoa…!

  31. I made the Chocolate Black-Bean Happy Bars yesterday, but substituting maple syrup for agave, whole-wheat and buckwheat flours for brown-rice flour, and chocolate chips for coconut; they came out great! The co-workers that I shared them with were all fans as well. The recipe was a bit high-volume for my mini-Cuisinart, so I’ll have to blend half at a time for my next batch. Thanks!

  32. Yum! Sounds easy enough – I love the idea of being able to control exactly what goes in to these. Pumpkin bars will be happening this weekend for sure. Great post!

  33. This is amazing! I really have to convince my roomates to chip in for an electric oven (we only have a small fridge, microwave and electric grill).

    I’ll have to settle with making some bars this weekend when I go home. :D

  34. This is a really great base recipe. I followed example #2 for the most part and my husband and I both love them. Thanks!

  35. How about quinoa as the dry base ingredients? I can process it into something powdery. Anyway, I’m going to try it.

  36. Christiane says:

    @George — I usually use quinoa flour as my dry base, since we are gluten-free, and it works great. I tried cooked quinoa as the “dry” base and used rice krispies instead of oats — it gave the bars a great moist chewiness!

  37. Popped rice – great idea! I just made mine with straight quinoa and they turned out alright. Kind of bland but seem to be ok. Thanks.

  38. These look great, I also checked out the black bean brownies. I am going to give them a try, looks easy to make – my kind of recipe :). Thank you

  39. Just love the options for each type of ingredient listed. This makes it so much easier for the uncreative vegan cook such as myself! I look forward to trying some of these soon.
    Thank you!

  40. Cassandra says:

    I whipped up a quick batch this weekend. I’m thinking about playing around with shapes — small muffins or “cookies” instead of bars. Love the formula and can’t wait to make more!

  41. Kali Ravel says:

    YUM. Just got in from a run, and eating my energy bars made to this formula. I used the following;

    Butter Beans
    Soya Yoghurt as a binder (since this was lower fat than the options listed, but still fairly high in protein)
    Maple Syrup as a sweetener
    Raspberries as soft fruit
    No extract, or spices.
    1/2 Cup of Cocoa Powder, 2 Tablespoons Hemp Powder, and 1/4 C + 2 Tablespoons wholemeal flour as a base ingredient,
    and another 1/4 cup of raspberries as mix ins.

    I then melted 3/4 of a cups worth of vegan chocolate (dark, rather than milk, since it was cheaper!) and spread it over the top. I classed that as the rest of my mix-ins, and it gave every bite an equal share of chocolatey coating.

    I cut it into eighths. MyFitnessPal says that one bar has 196 calories, 32g of carbs, 8g of protein, and 5g of fat. Cutting down on the chocolate – for instance, replacing it with cranberries – would up the carbs and lower the fat. I was aiming for something with a 10:2:1 ratio of carbs to fat, but I’m okay with that extra gram when it tastes this good.:D I generally have a mixture of orange juice and water after a run anyway, so the lower carb ratio works great.

  42. I have an odd question: if I wanted to add butter to the ingredients, what would that count as? A binder? I have dietary reasons for needing to add fat to the bars.

    Kelly

    • Cassandra says:

      I’m not a nutritionist, so you can take this with a grain of salt, but butter will add fat but not much else. Some of the binders listed in the recipe (peanut butter, almond butter) will add fat with better nutrition than butter. Dried coconut as a stir-in will also up the fat and offer other benefits. You could also try to remove some of the beans and replace them with more binder and/or nuts/seeds, but that will probably mean you have to play with the formula a bit to achieve a good texture. Also, I have made these bars and eaten them with nut butters spread on top, which is a good way to make the recipe as is but add more fat/calories/nutrition, if that’s what you’re going for.

    • Coconut manna worked well for me as a soft fruit, it is high in saturated fat. Needed to add two table spoons of apple sauce to bring it back together though.

  43. Love this!! I need to eat at least a 1/2 c. of protien rich foods 3 times a day according to my ND, that’s tricky with a one year old running around! This will definitely help!!!

  44. As a chef, I thank you for this very basic formula that allows for so many different variations. Im currently working for a locally based, independant company called Tealow. We make our own blends of mate and tea. As part of our sales efforts, we want to offer a sort of food, made with mate to go with our teas. So far, energy bars is my best idea and i cant wait to experiment with this formula. Again thank you.

  45. I have spent days (DAYS) googling up recipes. I have like 20 and didn’t know which would taste good. Now I don’t have to guess! This is great, thank you for sharing.

  46. I stumbeled upon your recipe/site. So excited. I am wondering if you have suggestions for a substitute for the oats. I see that is it’s own section in the basic formula of energy bars. I can’t even do gluten free oats… Just curious.
    Thanks. I’m excited to experiment!
    I’m hoping that you might be able to email a response to me if you have time.

    • Cassandra says:

      Hi Carrie! I think I tried using puffed cereal (maybe millet) once, and the texture wasn’t quite the same, but it’s definitely doable if you can tolerate a few recipe duds before you reach the perfect formula. I would recommend trying soaked/sprouted/cooked buckwheat or another type of grain or “super grain.” I’ve got some amaranth that I need to do something with, and I was thinking of working with that instead of oats. Good luck!

  47. Rachael says:

    I tried the chocolate and coconut ones…had no bananas or agarve syrup so used mashed pears and apple concentrate instead. Worked an absolute treat!!! Thanks!

  48. Thanks! I’ve just started P90X, but the nutrition plan is so heavy on meats and processed soy junk. This is a great snack for me to grab a little energy.

  49. Today’s experiment?

    Homemade energy bars composed of avocado, barley flakes, home ground whole wheat flour, honey, Medjool dates, Lemon extract, Sea salt, Pinto beans, hemp seeds, Gogi berries and almonds.

    Here is how I used your recipe builder. Super cool! Thanks so much!

    -Kelli

    • Here is the monetary, macronutrient and micronutrient information on this recipe. It created 30 ounces of product.

      At the VERY most this whole recipe cost me $10.00 to make. That means I spent $.50 per 1.5 ounces, which is the size of the bars I was spending $2.00 on. So I saved 75% of the cost by doing it myself. It took me about 15 minutes to put it together and another 15 to bake them.

      Per one ounce serving: 95 calories, 2.5 g of fat, 17 g carbs, 2.5 g. protein, 2 g. fiber, .9 g sugar

      High in: Vit A, Vit B-6, Vit E, Copper, Iron, Manganese, Magnesium, Niacin, Phosphorus, Riboflavin, Selenium, Thiamin and Zinc. Low in sodium.

    • I also added spirulina powder.

  50. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, I am allergic to nuts and peanuts. I will now be able to make my own bars using your formula.

    Has anyone tried to freeze their bars? Not all baked goods freeze well do these?

  51. Hi,

    Would anyone recommend any of these to eat during a run? I’m not too keen on the gels and sports drinks as would like to keep everything natural and get my calories from food rather than chemicals.

    Can anyone recommend any good recipes to eat whilst running?

  52. Michelle says:

    These are amazing! I’ve been telling all my friends about them.They freeze very well. I eat them as close to a half hour before a workout & they don’t upset my stomach, or make feel bloated. I find using peanut butter on it’s own as a binder makes a really dry bar, so if I want a peanut taste I mix it half & half with the pumpkin.

  53. Thanks so much for this!! Very handy. I’m going to try making some bars using soybeans haha, hope they work out ok!

  54. Yum! Just made my first batch of these and they were great! I went for a thanksgiving/pumpkin pie sort of theme, with pureed pumpkin as the binder, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, and a mix of dried cranberries and chopped walnuts as an add-in. Tasted a bit like muffin. Definitely will make these again, looking forward to further experimentation!

  55. SOO good! I just took these out on a bike camping trip, they were the best. I baked them in a cupcake pan, fit very conveniently in my backpack. Here’s what I did:
    •1 can of white beans
    •½ cup binder: 1/4 cup flax seeds/ 1/4 cup water
    •¼ cup Honey
    1 overly ripe mashed banana
    •1 teaspoon of cinnamon and nutmeg
    •¼ teaspoon sea salt
    •1.5 cups of oats
    •1 cup blend of cocoa powder, protein powder, and a little whole wheat flour
    •1 cup crushed pretzels, coconut, banana chips, and chocolate chips (this went over a cup)

    soo good and fueled me up for the ride

  56. At last, someone who bakes the way I do! I’ve been trying to come up with my own “formula” based on recipes but you’ve saved me a lot of time, energy and resources. Thank you!!!

  57. I just decided to go vegetarian three months ago. I’m actually closer to vegan at this point. I’m just getting back into running and I’ve been glued to the Olympics and then I thought “i wonder how many of them don’t eat meat?” So I googled “vegan vegetarian athletes” and found your site!! So happy I did!! Been cruising through the posts and I’m so excited to try this formula. Thanks so much!!

  58. i tried my first batch this morning and they are DELICIOUS!!!! but, they didn’t hold together. i didn’t pulse once i added the oats, protein powder and nuts, just stirred them in. the pics you feature look a little chunky so i figured i didn’t really have to pulse. any other hints?

    • I would say pulse em, I had the little bits of oats show even after a quick pulse. Or you can combine with you hands, a good kneading works well.

  59. these energy bars are so cool and they look so yum

  60. New Convert says:

    Been eating vegetarian – raw and juicing also – for a little over a month. I found his site by researching pinole and Chia drink. I love making energy / granola bars. This recipe tasted great. The mix was a bit dry so I added more water then might have added too much dry to balance it out b/c it came out like a brownie. I love the taste and I love brownies so I’M not complaining. I will try this again soon to get the right consistancy. Any tips??

  61. Is the nutritional information spreadsheet still available somewhere?

    Thanks, Chip

  62. I love the formula concept! This is great since I don’t always have all the ingredients, but knowing the essential backbone of a bar is so helpful! I tried the pumpkin one you gave as an example but changed it up just a bit. Baked it for 15 mins. Came out great!
    Next time I may stir in at least half (or more) of the oats instead of pulsing them in because I like the texture. Definitely going to try a formula with cocoa powder next! Maybe cocoa powder and PB2 powder for a peanut butter cup variety :)
    Thanks so much! Keep up the good work with the veg blog. It’s very helpful for us new vegetarians. :)

  63. This is one of the best recipes I’ve ever come across! I’ve made five variations, so far, and plan to continue keeping these delicious and healthy snacks in my freezer. As one with diabetes, this recipe can’t be beat! Thank you SO much!

  64. I just made a batch with peanut butter, choc chip, cranberries and i used mashed up peaches as my fruit (didn’t have any bananas or applesauce) and I only had navel beans so I used them they worked out perfectly! Thanks so much for this formula its awesome!

  65. just made my first batch of bars: organic dates, cocoa, almond butter, vanilla extract, brown rice and chia flour, currants, cinnamon, cocoa nibs, adzuki beans, and coconut. i love them, my two little boys love them, and now i have something yummy and healthy to eat throughout the day and after runs! thanks so much for posting this.

    leo

  66. Can you leave it not baked?

  67. Great article. So glad you mentioned adzuki beans. Growing up in Japan, sweet adzuki bean paste in pounded rice was on par with chocolates! Cheers.

  68. I just popped these into the oven. Didn’t have a food processor, so I just smashed everything with my bare hands. It was more fun that way anyhow. ;) Looking forward to seeing how they taste!

  69. Lynn Hickey says:

    I’m making these for Virginia Beach rock gym team bake sale. They easily passed my family’s taste trial. How long will they stay fresh if individually wrapped?

  70. Would it be possible to include cooked Quinoa? Perhaps in place of the “beans”?

  71. These are awesome. I’m a student and I carry these with me as often as possible for study snacks. I discovered that coconut oil makes a really good binder, although I’m not sure how well it would work in summer time.

    • I have been looking into long term storage for baked goods, and coconut oil/coconut butter have a longer shelf life compared to regular butter! Try coconut manna too, I think it is a mix of coconut butter and raw coconut shavings.

  72. Just found this site. Have a silly question about the oats — whole, steel cut, or rolled?

    Thanks!

  73. being the only girl on my highschool’s wrestling team, i thought the boys might appreciate a nice treat for christmas but it seemed silly to make everyone cookies when we’re practicing everyday and most of us are trying to cut weight. so i whipped up some of these energy bars and they were a hit! thank you so much for this great “formula”! im definitely going to be trying out some different combos soon(:

    ps
    featured this on my blog! i truly loved them!

  74. Citlalli V says:

    I did mine using: black beans, applesauce, low-calorie sweetener, instant coffee and cinnamon, cocoa and pinole as a dry base, and a combination of walnuts, almonds and raisins as stir-ins. I was hoping to use chia as a binder, but we were all out and I used egg whites instead. They’re in the oven right now, and I can’t wait to try them! The batter was delicious.

  75. Made the recipe this weekend with pinto beans, peanut butter, mini chocolate chips, raisins, applesauce, soy and whole wheat flours. Pretty good! They were a bit wet when I got them out of the oven. So, I cut them out and baked them a second time spread out on a cookie sheet to dry out the edges. Worked well. Will try pumpkin and pecans for my next batch!

  76. Regina Reyna says:

    I made these last night, a slight change: Orange extract, grated orange peel, and use pinole as the dry base ingredient. The other ingredients I chose.. Chickpeas, Oats, Banana, Almond Butter, Agave, cinnamon, ginger, & chocolate chips. So far I love them..

    Many thanks for the formula! I have already shared nomeatathlete website with a few coworkers. I will be making more tonight…will be adding few other ingredients: virgin coconut oil, chia seeds.

  77. Leslie Long says:

    I love this recipe.

    I made a version list night where I cooked up dried cherries and subbed them in for the soft fruit.
    That combined with cocoa and walnuts made them the most tasty version I have made so far.

    My full combo:
    1.5 c of mixed beans (black, navy and black eyed peas)
    ½ c liquidy natural peanut butter
    ¼ c agave nectar
    ¼ c cooked dried cherries (with 1/4 c additional liquid i cooked cherries in)
    1 tsp of vanilla extract
    1 tsp of fancy cinnamon
    1/4 tsp sea salt
    1.5 c of oats
    1/2 c cocoa, 1/4 c oat flour and 1/4 c protien powder
    1/2 c walnuts and 1/2 c unsweetened flaked coconut

  78. Sue Stearns says:

    Just have to say I love this! Just made a white bean, flax&water, banana, honey, vanilla, pistachio & dried cherry mixture and this will now be my go to formula for protein bars! Thanks for sharing!

  79. Citlalli V says:

    Here’s an interesting update:

    Toss the batter into a crockpot for a few hours and you get a delicious little cake-like thing.

  80. Has anyone tried to make this with chickpea flour? Can that be used as one of the “flour” category items? ~ Thanks

  81. GRRRRRRRRRRRREAT. So very good. Used coconut manna for the soft sweet fruit, a little apple sauce too to bring it together more. Should have waited until my dad had a whole bar before mentioning it is made with kidney beans! Delicious, great bring with treat. Thanks a million for the formulas!!

  82. This is a great formula, thank you! Mine came out a bit too chewy…any advice? I used wheat flour, the ground flax mixture, banana, honey, black beans, vanilla, cinnamon, and dried cranberries. Needed a bit more liquid so added a bit of water…??

  83. These look super!! I’m going to whip up a batch for our four very active boys! I am wondering: would it be okay to use Grandma’s Unsulphured Molasses as the sweetener..? Thanks so much!

  84. I made the pistachio and cranberry recipe except I subbed sunflower seeds because my roomie is allergic to nuts. I would definitely add a bit more sugar is I made them again, they didn’t come out nearly sweet enough for me, more vanilla and cinnamon too. A really awesome formula, I can’t wait to try out more combinations.

  85. I made the chocolate black bean bars this afternoon substituting a few ingredients to allow for what I had on hand. They are delicious! I love the formula and the lists of choices. I will definitely be making another variety of these when this batch runs out. Thank you.

  86. This post has completely blown my mind. I never even thought of cooking in this way before. Amazing. I am going to make one of the versions right now. I have forwarded this link to about 5 people so far too! Thanks again :)

  87. Heres my own energy bar recipe just in case anyone is interested:
    - 1/4 cup of carob powder(can use cacao or cocoa powder but carob has no caffeine
    - 1/2 cup of hemp protein
    - 1/4 cup of ground seeds(sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, flax)
    - tablespoon of lemon juice
    - cup of frozen blueberries
    - Cup of dates(I grind these first before adding them to the mix) or figs. Figs are lower on GI

    And thats it. Put contents into a food processor and let it whirl for about 20 seconds. Then cut the resultant lump into bar shapes and place in freezer bags and into freezer. 100% natural recipe, no added chemicals or sweetners. I use these bars all the time and they taste great.

  88. So glad I found this formula – it lets me cook the way I like with proportions and the ability to be flexible. I made a batch with peanut butter, apple sauce, white beans, cardomon and vanilla. Mix ins were hemp seeds and some pumpkin seed meal (we have a fairly local place that makes pumpkin seed products and this stuff is awesome!).

    They are pretty tasty. I might experiment more for versions to use as a breakfast bar.

  89. This is just great!
    My first attempt was loosely based on the first example “recipe”, but I had to sub out some of the recommendations as I didn’t have any agave syrup on hand. Overall, I was very impressed and I am excited to try again.

    I also shared the recipe with an acquaintance, and she suggested using prunes for the soft fruit when working with cocoa powder, as they will cut the bitterness and enhance the chocolate flavor–so version 2.0 of my bars will have prunes!!!

  90. Love this idea! I tried it and loved the protein bars! I did not use any sweetner since i’m trying to keep sugar intake low, i used the dates and found them sweet enough. Then i added some cold fruit infusion tea to the mixture to keep it from getting too dry.

    Thank you!
    Analise

  91. Bars are great.
    Was a bit nervous about trying them as have never made anything like this but it worked really well. Need to find a stronger flavouring though, may go for more banana or vanilla.
    Just wondering if their is a recommended serving size for the recipe?
    Thanks again

  92. For anyone who is a fan of this Ultimate Energy Bar formula (as it seems from the comments that a lot of you are!), would you do me a favor and vote for it in this Ethical Ocean / Vegan Cuts recipe contest? http://www.ethicalocean.com/recipe/ultimate-energy-bar-formula

    You do have to sign in with your Facebook account or email address, but you can unsubscribe at any time. I know them, and they’re not spammers. :)

    Thanks so much; I really appreciate it!

    • Can you let me know how long approximately these bars stay fresh? My son will be taking a two week hiking trip, no refrig.

  93. OMG the chocolate happy bars turned out phenomenal! I can’t believe there are beans in here!

  94. So… my body has a difficult time digesting beans so my husband/tent-mate said I can’t make these bars for our wilderness trip. Has anyone figured out how to omit or significantly reduce the bean portion? What ratio of binder/dry ingredients can replace them effectively. FYI – I plan to use a vegetable protein in these bars. Thanks!
    ~Andrea

  95. Sharron D says:

    Made this morning, love the formula but I totally forgot to write down oats on my kitchen note!! I bought them so I will try again soon. I used buckwheat flour and cocoa so the bars held together fine without the oats. They were very yummy, and easy to try different variations now that I know where to find everything at the co-op!

  96. Stephanie says:

    Thank you so much for this! My husband is just starting out with biking and is going on his first bike trip tomorrow with some guys from church. I thought I would surprise him with some energy cookies/bars and I found your formula! It’s wonderful because I already had at least one of each item! I hope they’re good–they smell delicious! Thanks again!

    • Stephanie says:

      Oh, here was the recipe I used:
      Chickpeas, PB, agave, applesauce, cinnamon, vanilla, oats, 1/2 cocoa, 1/2 whole wheat flour, 1/2 chocolate chips, and 1/2 Kashi Go Lean Vanilla Graham Clusters cereal.

  97. Mindblowing! Super fast and easy to do, used only organic ingredients and they are still cheaper than the artificial stuff you get in the stores. Used lentils instead of beans (red lentils) and turned out perfect. Thanks a million!

  98. Alveoelchen says:

    Absolutely great recipe!!! Thanks a lot!
    I’ve spent hours searching for something like this – easy and variable. AND with beans. (Most of the energybar-recipes in the www use protein powder… and then they tell you “this is the ultimate ALL NATURAL protein bar” Ha!)

    I used your formula to create raspberry-ginger-oat-white bean-bars with a hint of vanilla and agave sirup. Unfortunately I only have a gas oven (which I haven’t really made friends with yet) and it took an hour for my bars to bake golden and crispy. But: THEY ARE DELIIIIICIOUS!
    Thank you so much!

  99. great recipe, but a little unsure about the measurements – here in europe, we have a broad range of understanding about the term “cup”, so which one do you use? is it the unit equalling appr. 250ml? thanks for helping!

  100. I made these using brown rice flour and oats. They came out too dry. I added the extra water too. What could have I done wrong?

  101. Hi! These are great! I can’t wait to try them! I have one question… If I wanted to make these storable (as an emergency bar not needling fridgeration & a much longer shelf life) (& I know this might be a stretch!) would I possibly be able to do this by drying the bars in a dehydrator after they are made & then storing them in airtight containers? I’ve never heard of this being done so I’m wondering if its do-able?

  102. Awesome recipe! I’ve made these several times and all of them have turned out great. Instead of bars, I make either mini or regular sized muffins. My usual mix is chickpeas, peanut butter, honey (I’m not 100% vegan…yet), applesauce, vanilla extract, cinnamon, quick oats, whole-wheat flour, raisins or dried cranberries and walnuts or almonds.

    But because I’ve been in such a fall mood, I wanted to try something a little more festival. Taking inspiration from your pumpkin mix and Addie’s above, this is what I came up with: great northern beans, pure pumpkin, sugar-free maple syrup (had to use about a 1/3 c to use the flavor I wanted), unsweetened applesauce, vanilla extract, homemade pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves), old-fashioned oats, whole-wheat flour, dried cranberries and walnuts. So delicious!

  103. Jacob Bolton says:

    Hi I just veered off course and tried a super experimental version

    I did

    ~1.5c black beans
    1 t vanilla
    1/4c brown sugar
    some honey
    1/3c ground flax
    with some water
    1 T butter
    1 T veg oil
    1/2c millet
    1/4c Chick Pea Flour
    1/2t salt
    2/3c cocoa (I meant to only put 1/2 cup)
    2/3c oat flour
    1.5 C Oats
    1 t cinnamon
    some partially milled quinoa

    Oh shoot, I meant to put walnuts in it.

    Outcome of my experiment:::
    The dough was not sweet enough, but when I put chocolate chips on top it was good! I’ve recently been using raw quinoa in baked goods and the smell of the raw grain and flour can be kind of off-putting? I think with more brown sugar, no chick pea flour and no quinoa chips, less cocoa, and less millet it would be good..

  104. Donna and John says:

    My daughter is 8 years old and swimming training 2 hour practices, twice per week. It is hard to find enough calories to get her through a practice. Heavy fats result in cramps and tiredness, but just fruit and greens don’t provide enough energy. I’ve made about 6 different energy bar recipes so far, and this is our favorite by a long shot. I love the versatility of the recipe so we can change it up weekly. We added carob chips, honey, and ground flax seed. Thanks!!!!

  105. Janet Cannon says:

    I usually eat a commercial energy bar before I go run or work out in the mornings. I tried the chocolate version of this recipie and had an AWESOME run this morning. Now I’m trying to replicate the flavors of my favorite bars. Here’s a recipe that’s very close to Clif Bar’s White Chocolate/Macadamia Nut flavor: 1 can Great Northern Beans, 1/2 c almond butter, 1 banana, 1/2c agave (can put less, these ended up pretty sweet), 1/4t cinnamon, 1/2 t vanilla, 1/4 t salt, 1 1/2 c oats (I ended up adding a little more because of the whole banana), 1 c vanilla protein powder, 1/2 c macadamia nuts, 1/2 c white chocolate chips, 1/2 c pitted dates (not the sugar-coated kind!). My husband couldn’t believe they had beans in them! Thank you so much!

  106. Hi Matt!

    I made this bars! First I thought “It’s smells bad”, but after the baking it tasted very well. Thanks for this recipe.

    Greets from Germany
    Mephi

  107. I used the recipe (very useful) and made it with chickpeas, agave, flax, persimmon, vanilla/almond extract, nutmeg/cinnamon and a mixture of (carob powder/vega chocolate protein powder – brown rice flour/whey protein isolate), oh and cranberries. Basically i used whatever I had on hand for this first time. I”m very happy with the result. Thank you very much!

  108. Can I use an egg as part of the binder? Not sure how it would bake up…crumbly or maybe fall apart? I am not vegan, just GF.

  109. I just made my first batch of these bars. I’m wondering about the portion size of the bar? About how many bars should I get out of the 9×13 pan? I guess it could be up to me, but I’m just wondering what a normal serving size is. Thanks!!!!

  110. Just tried the energy bar formula with what I had on hand that hit all the components above and they are awesome! Chickpeas, oats, peanut butter/flax combo, powdered cinnamon/ginger combo, protein powder, chopped prunes, bit of honey and handful of dried blueberries. Easy and it made enough for the week!

  111. Just made these and they turned up perfect! I added some carob powder and some pumpkin protein powder. Forgot the oats though so they tasted more like brownies. Not complaining, hehe. The formula works great, will def use it again and again! Thanks so much for this!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I saw today’s post from No Meat Athlete on the Ultimate Energy Bar Formula I was thrilled! I’ve come across and have tried many recipes for energy bars from a number of [...]

  2. [...] I would write a quick post.  Yesterday I made some energy bars from the site that dad found (recipe) and they turned out pretty good.  I used gorbonzo beans, peanut butter, honey, cinnamon, [...]

  3. [...] Die ultimative Formel für niemals langweilig werdende Smoothies und Riegel hat Matt Frazier, Blogger & Vertreiber dieser T-Shirts, gefunden. Auf seinem Blog ‘No Meat Athlet’ stellt er die Basisprodukte eines Smoothies vor, die sich je nach Belieben täglich, ganz individuell verändern lassen. Passend dazu hat er auch wunderbar vielfältige Ideen für selbstgemachte Energieriegel zusammengestellt. [...]

  4. [...] into the mix—an idea I got from my friend Matt’s wife, Christine Frazier, who has some fabulous ideas on making vegan energy bars! Check them out. I also added chia seeds for healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, plenty of nuts and seeds [...]

  5. [...] The Ultimate Formula for Homemade Energy Bars [...]

  6. [...] Here is a link to the original recipe by No Meat Athlete called The Ultimate Energy Bar Formula. Below are the two versions of energy bars I created with their energy bar formula. [...]

  7. [...] eten. Naar de Big Ass Salad. Naar volkorenbrood met kaas en tomaat op een lange fietsrit. Naar zelf energierepen bakken. En die gels, die komen ook nog wel een [...]

  8. [...] energy bars were awesome. I used the Ultimate Energy Bar Formula post from Matt Frazier of No Meat Athlete. If you are looking for a healthy homemade substitute to [...]

  9. [...] (adapted from: No Meat Athlete) [...]

  10. [...] No Meat Athlete didn’t set out to make a gluten-free energy bar, the way their post is structured is perfect [...]

  11. [...] break was one of the bean energy bars I made following this NMA article (honestly may have changed my snacking life) which had borlotti beans, dried prunes, crystallised [...]

  12. [...] nut butter or pureed fruit. Something like pumpkin puree or banana. I am going to try this place, The Ultimate Energy Bar Formula | No Meat Athlete The recipe looks good, I just have to get to the grocery store. __________________ Last relaxer [...]

  13. [...] I recommend (Think Thin and Quest), I decided to make my own. My first experiment was adapted from No Meat Athlete, and they give a very helpful formula for make-your-own bars. I highly recommend checking it [...]

  14. [...] and preservatives they are a travelers and athletes best friend. The No Meat Athlete has a handy formula for making numerous varieties of bars. Today I tried a combination of oats, [...]

  15. [...] love Nutter Butters and these are an tasty form of portable energy while running, but I made my own energy bars! Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this.   Leave a [...]

  16. [...] over breakfast I saw that one of my favorite runner sites No Meat Athlete posted a recipe for “formula” protein bars. Oh, and I received a RAISE at work (boom!$$) So, I celebrated with a little kitchen [...]

  17. [...] found this great guide to making protein/energy bars on this blog and I thought how lucky I was because I knew what all of those ingredients were. Admit it, sometimes [...]

  18. [...] recipe adapted from: No Meat Athlete’s “Ultimate Energy Bar Formula“ [...]

  19. [...] Make your own!!! It’s easy!!! I recently found this handy formula for making protein bars at No Meat Athlete.com. It is a formula. You mix and match from each catergoy to make a bar that works for you. In [...]

  20. [...] and not much fibre or protein. This recipe I modified from a website my friend showed me called No Meat Athlete, check it out for some other great ideas for making these granola bars your [...]

  21. [...] The idea for meta-recipes, or formulas, was inspired by No Meat Athlete‘s post on homemade energy bars. Try those, they’re good [...]

  22. [...] Energy Bars Adapted from The No Meat Athlete. Makes 24 [...]

  23. [...] {founder of Vega} includes lots of great energy bar recipes in his book The Thrive Diet but I found THIS link that has a couple you could test out and THIS is a video tutorial of Mr. Brazier making some [...]

  24. [...] dass wir große Fans von Matt Fraziers Blog “No Meat Athlete” sind. Matt’s Baukasten-Rezept für selbstgemachte Energieriegel lässt viel Raum für Kreativität und ist trotzdem idiotensicher… kurz gesagt – es [...]

  25. [...] ist unter anderem für seine Rezept-Formeln bekannt: Auf seinem Blog findet ihr Formeln für Energieriegel, Smoothies und eben für das perfekte Rezept – er nennt es A Grain, a Green, and a Bean. Wie [...]

  26. [...] Irresistible power bar formula. (Too much improv w. formula = heartbreaking brownie. Try, try again.) [...]

  27. [...] and freeze a whole bunch of them so I can grab one from the freezer when I need one.  I always use this Homemade Energy Bar formula from No Meat Athlete.  It’s great because you can change it up depending on what’s in [...]

  28. […] something a bit more decadent try this excellent, adaptable recipe called the Ultimate Energy Bar Formula, I recently found on a great website my husband is hooked on, No Meat Athlete. If you have […]

  29. […] awesome energy bars are based on this recipe, but below is the combination my sister used. They were better than any store-bought bar I’ve […]

  30. […] recipes on homemade energy gels, bars, smoothies and drinks. The first I intend to try is the Energy Bar formula which boasts a comprehensive guide for making an energy bar using a mix & match […]

  31. […] tomorrow’s 18.5km run, I thought I’d do an energy bar cook-up using The Ultimate Energy Bar Formula from the No Meat […]

  32. […] also been making batches of No Meat Athlete’s energy bars. I have trouble finding ways to eat my beans earlier in the day and baking them into chocolate and […]

  33. […] made some awesome energy bars using this recipe which is also in the NMA book pictured above. Great book for recipes, running, training plans, and […]

  34. […] energy bars (check out Matt Frazier’s No Meat Athlete Blog and recipe – […]

  35. […] ol’ nuts and the like? Give something a little more decadent a whirl—banana bread, homemade energy bars, raw brownies or chocolate turtles = drool-worthy results for surprisingly little […]

  36. […] morning I made energy bars using my favorite recipe from Matt Frazier, who wrote No Meat Athlete. I aspire to eat a fully plant-based diet, and with […]

  37. […] a big food-fixing day on Saturday, where I made, among others, these energy bars, and these, and these; and baked beans somewhat like these; and a big Thai curry for Phil made up out of my head, and […]

  38. […] posted a link to the No Meat Athlete Energy Bar formula before. I tried it for the second time with great success so here is my […]

  39. […] anyway, plus they often use highly processed ingredients that may not be vegan. I’m a big fan of this post by Matt Frazier of No Meat Athlete blog in which he describes not just one recipe, but a formula for an almost […]

  40. […] out No Meat Athlete’s Energy Bar formula! The possibilities are endless & delicious & great healthy […]

  41. […] posted a link to the No Meat Athlete Energy Bar formula before. I tried another yummy […]

  42. […] out backpacking or camping etc. I like the following site to figure out how to make my own bars: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/homemad…gy-bar-recipe/ I could go on and on with the variety of food you can eat as a vegan, and healthy too, to gain and […]

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