Homemade Energy Bars

Happy Sweet-Tooth Friday!   This is Christine again, so get your ovens revved up for some Athletic baking!  Instead of dessert, this week I’m tackling home-baked Energy Bars!  Most “healthy” bars on the market are fairly expensive and fall into one of two categories; they have enough sugar and processing to qualify as candy or they just flat out taste like cardboard.  The challenge was clear: create a healthy bar that is both enjoyable to eat and chock full of whole foods.  You’re not going to believe how yummy these are!

A Better Way to Bar

energy bar plate photo 300x200When my brother suggested baking a protein/energy bar, my first question was “What’s the difference?”  It turns out that energy bars are used mainly as recovery in endurance training, and can be eaten before, during or after a workout.  They are calorie-dense so they can be used as a quick breakfast or something to keep you going until that late lunch.  Protein bars are more for body-builders looking for bulk muscle.  We decided to go for an energy bar, but one that included some protein since vegetarians don’t always get a lot in their diets.

I read a lot of different recipes for home-baked bars, trying to find one with the ideal balance of ingredients.  They included everything from silken tofu to protein powder to peanut butter to corn syrup.  Like the packaged energy bars, a lot of the recipes included way too much sweeteners and fake stuff.  I finally stumbled across a promising recipe from the Idaho Bean Commission.  Yep, the same site that inspired last week’s elegant apple tart.  (big shout out to the No Meat Athlete readers in Idaho for providing the tax dollars to this sweet commission!)

energy bar ingredients photo 300x200Their recipe for Beananza bars included a full cup and a half of white beans, plus grape nuts cereal, coconut, cinnamon and dates.   Those are some great ingredients that can be hard to include in your diet each day, so it is exciting to roll them into a more convenient form.   (Did you know that dates have as much or more potassium than bananas?!)  However, there were a couple of elements I wanted to change to make this bar marathon-ready.

The first easy swap was whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour.   Then by subbing in canola oil and applesauce, I was able to eliminate the 7 tablespoons of margarine in the recipe.  I figured the applesauce was naturally sweet enough on it’s own so I axed the added sugar as well.  There’s also a lot of sweetness from the dates, so I brought the half cup of honey called for down to just 2 tablespoons, then added some flax-water paste to fill in the gaps.

enery bar ingredients close photo 1024x682

Homemade Vegan Energy Bar Recipe

The “dry” Ingredients:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup oats
1 cup Grape Nuts cereal
3/4 cup raisins (I used golden)
1 cup shredded coconut (I could only find sweetened)
1/3 cup unsalted almonds, chopped
1/3 cup unsalted cashews, chopped
1 cinnamon stick, ground (or 2 tsp ground, but I totally recommend the taste of freshly ground!)

The “wet” ingredients:
2 tbs flax seed
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups cooked Great Northern Beans (or 1 15 oz can)
15 dates, seeds removed and chopped (about 1 cup or 1/2 a lb)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs honey
1 tbs canola oil
1/2 cup applesauce (I made mine on the stove by cooking two peeled and diced apples for about 30 minutes with 1/4 cup of water, 2 tbs pomegranate molasses, and 1 tbs maple syrup)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

If starting with dry beans, soak a half pound over night, then simmer for about one hour or until soft.  If starting with canned, rinse well to remove saltiness.  Chop the beans roughly either by hand or in a food processor.  They don’t need to be processed into a puree, just tiny pieces.

Grind the flax seed and mix it with the water, set aside to thicken.

Combine the dry ingredients together first and mix well.  Add the wet ingredients and mix until uniformly incorporated.  Press into a greased 9×13 pan or casserole dish.  Bake for a total of 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan half way through.  (Mine were finished at about 23 minutes).  Cool completely, then cut into 24 bars.   I cut a line down the middle of the pan lengthwise then 12 cuts across.  Leave unwrapped for harder bars; put in airtight container for softer bars.  Toast cut bars in the toaster oven for a crispy outside.  If keeping longer than one week, wrap and freeze.

Nutrition facts for whole pan / one bar

calories from fat: 919 / 38.3
calories: 3779.3 / 157
fat: 105 / 4.4
sat fat: 30 / 1.25
protein: 109.2 / 4.6
sodium: 1584.3 / 66
total carbs: 713 / 29.7
sugar: 333 / 13.9
fiber: 178.2 / 7.4

enery bar close photo 1024x682

Ok I hope you enjoy the benefits of baking your own energy bars!  They really turned out great!  Compare the nutrition info to your current favorite bar and you are sure to be pleasantly surprised…

That’s it for this week- keep your energy up and stay sweet!

xoxo Christine

P.S.  These energy bars were vegan before I squiggled them with white chocolate, and it’s not accounted for in the nutrition facts.  What can I say, decorating baked goods is a compulsion!

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

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Comments

  1. They look so pretty with that drizzle on top! I love making homemade energy bars. Tasty tasty. Nice substitutions you’ve made.

  2. You left out your athletic beginings as a field hockey star…Regardless, these look great!

  3. I LOVE sweet tooth Friday!!! LOVE it, LOVE it!! Sooooo true about all the sugar in “ehhmmm” energy/candy bars. The recipe looks GREAT! Can’t wait to try it this weekend.
    .-= Jennifer Z´s last blog ..Knee update =-.

    • I’m so happy you are into the Sweet-Tooth Fridays! I’m having a ton of fun experimenting with the recipes. If you do give the energy bars a try let me know how it goes! I think I’ve had a bar for breakfast everyday this week…

  4. I was fortunate enough to get to taste these bars and loved them. I had them for breakfast with my green tea 3 days in a row. Very satisfying!

  5. Hi, these bars seem really tasty. I wanted to point out, however, that honey is not vegan so with or without the chocolate drizzle these would not be vegan. But you could sub agave nectar in place of the honey and have a vegan bar.

    Thank you for sharing with us :)

    KD
    http://www.yourdailyvegan.com

    • Thanks KD, you’re right! I actually took a picture of agave nectar in the ingredients shot, but forgot to mention it was the vegan alternative. Thanks for looking out!

  6. These look SO good! I don’t really buy energy bars, for the reasons you listed, but I also don’t make them either, because all I ever see are recipes with 1 cup honey or 1 cup maple syrup or 3/4 cup canola oil or just altogether too much sugar and fat! But these sound like a dream. Low-cal, low-fat (even with the nuts and coconut!), high fiber, and with a nice smidgen of protein. These are going on my Must Make list :] Thanks!

  7. Congratulations on quitting smoking! Any addiction is hard to break… I’m sure your body thanks you every day! The energy bars look scrumptious- can’t wait to try them.

  8. I love these bars! I’ve been eating them all week; my only complaint is that I wasn’t given more of them. I suppose I’ll have to do a little baking of my own. I agree with Margaret that they’d be good crispy. But then again, they have a similar texture to Clif Bars, so maybe it’s not needed.

  9. these look great! i love the icing!
    .-= DessertObsessed´s last blog ..Los Angeles Dessert Tour: First Stop, Sweet Hart Sweets =-.

  10. Christine
    thanks,,do you think you could make protein bars,,
    i love the brand Think Thin-peanut butter flavor,,but they are expensive 1.75 per bar,,but they have 20grams protein so they are meal replacement-
    the brand Think Thin is sold at whole foods or coops but i know
    that a lot of these bars are very processed but I would to make a bar with 15-20 grams protein that tasted good…
    any thoughts
    thanks cousin!!

    • I think this recipe could tolerate a scoop of hemp protein powder. If it seems too dry with that addition, maybe add 1/2 cup peanut butter or almond butter to moisten it and add more protein.

  11. I just found this bar due to a comment on my website…would you be willing to announce my giveaway for Dr. Krackers to devise a Amazing Race Bar??? And consider entering yourself???
    Check it out: http://thespecialktreatment.wordpress.com/ks-cooks/guest-k-cooks-amazing-race-bars/
    .-= Special K´s last blog ..FMarket-holic =-.

  12. Victoria says:

    Your recipes are always delicious and have inspired me to use other food alternatives in baking. I made a version of these bars that I feel good about sharing with my 13 month old. Thank you!

    I used a mixture of black/pinto beans and used mashed steamed carrots in place of the applesauce. They are delicious and will be my after work-out breakfast on the run this week.

  13. Candice says:

    How to make them a little sweeter…
    I looked at the ingredients to alot of store bought energy bars, and the first ingredient in most was brown rice syrup…
    Any suggestions?

    • Hey Candice,

      There a couple ways to get the bars sweeter. You could replace the water with a sweet juice, like apple or pineapple. You could also replace some of the nuts with sweetened dried fruit, like pineapple or mango, or even sweetened chocolate chips. There is also pre-sweetened applesauce instead of unsweetened.

      If you’d like to use brown rice syrup, you could do a 1/4 cup of that instead of the 2 tablespoons of honey. Agave nectar is a little sweeter than brown rice syrup, so that’s something to try too.

      Finally,you could also try adding a pinch of Stevia. Different brands have different concentrations, so I would start with less than a 1/4 tsp and taste as you go. Stevia doesn’t have any calories, so it won’t contribute to the “energy” component of the bars.

      Thanks!
      Christine

  14. You’re a God-send! My super-athletic 13-y-o son is also gluten-intolerant and non-diabetic hypoglycemic, and we’ve been struggling to keep his protein and slow-release-carbs stabilized on a daily basis. For the past couple of weeks I’ve actually been thinking, I kid you not, “Great Northern beans are SO mild – I bet I could make an energy bar with them”. I cannot WAIT to try your recipe!!!!! We’ll have to use a non-gluten flour (and add some xanthan gum to help it hold together), but other than that, I positively LOVE your other changes. This looks like it’s “just what the doctor ordered”!
    Warm regards,
    Martine

  15. Wow, these sound delicious!
    Would it be possible to leave out the nuts and coconut though, because I’m nut-intolerant (and don’t like coconut, lol). Should I replace them with fruit or could I just leave them out? Thanks in advance!

  16. According to Ayur Ved honey becomes somewhat toxic when heated so I’ll skip that part but the rest sound very yummy. Thanks.

  17. Bob Saget says:

    It says, “If keeping longer than one week, wrap and freeze.” How do they make Cliff Bars with a long shelf life so they don’t need frozen? Is there a way to modify the recipe so they last for months without freezing, like the bars they sell at Walmart?

    • Bob, that’s a good question… I just checked a Clif bar I have, and I don’t see anything that looks like a preservative. And the expiration date is about 8 months from now. Maybe the airtight packages prevent anything from getting in that could cause spoilage?

      Wish I could help you more on this. If I find anything out, I’ll let you know.

  18. KERRI SABO says:

    COULD YOU SUBSTITUTE PUMPKIN FOR THE APPLESAUCE?

  19. KERRI SABO says:

    made these this weekend- they were very tasty! my 8 year old loved them as well.

  20. I used these to fuel the 70.3 in Yeppoon, perfect! I’ve been blogging about my love for your recipes often here: http://worldbycycle.ismotion.info/2011/08/ironman-70-3-raced-in-style/
    Especially as we have gone package-free.
    Looking forward to more recipies!! xK

  21. Manni Pena says:

    Hey man,
    Great Blog. I love getting your feeds. How do you form your bars? Is there something I can use for getting a nice rectangular shape?

    -M

  22. These are great!! I actually added some whey protein powder just for an extra kick :) Thanks for the recipie!!

  23. Those bars are not vegan if you use HONEY!!!!!!!!!!

  24. Hi, these sound yummy and just what I was looking for ! I don’t want to use Grape-Nuts, can anyone suggest a homemade substitute?

  25. I have been keeping this recipe in my favorites waiting for the right time to make them, Boy! they are so yummie! I substituted hazelnuts for cashews, and used a few dried apricots in place of the expensive dates. Thank you for a great alternative to store bought bars. I am excited to share the recipe with friends.

  26. I made these bars last night and am trying them out before my run this morning. They are fantastic – thanks for the yummy & healthy recipe!

  27. Kenny :) says:

    So I have been having trouble since becoming a vegetarian finding “clean” options that are not just processed soy infused “foods”. This site is amazing and I found it b/c of this recipe! I hit the gym and practice vinyasa daily and have run low on fuel supply pretty often after dropping meat. I finished baking these tonight and they are delectable! I added dried cherries, walnuts, and subbed organic blackberry applesauce over regular. (It was 2 for $4 on special instead of $3.98 for one…) Thanks again for these handy snacks and I look fwd to what they say at the yoga studio tomorrow when I hand them out to other teachers :)

    -Namaste-

  28. Mrs. Fisher says:

    Oh my…these are wonderful! I buy the cheap Walmart brand tropical trail mix in bulk, so I simply pulled from what dried components are in the mix. I also omitted the GrapeNuts and in turn added 1/2 cup of Irish Oats. Delectable!! I am not vegetarian by any means, but I eat only what I or my husband harvest (elk, deer, fresh fish, etc.) from both the forest and the ground~ Your recipes are so very whole foods based that I am certain to try others~

    Thanks for the great recipes…
    Mrs. Fisher

    P.S. Huckleberry Honey makes the bars even more scrumptious :)

  29. runninrach says:

    What was that drizzle on top? How do you make it?

  30. Wonderful recipe. I made these today and happened to sample the mixture BEFORE cooking and thought it tastier than the final bars. Might I suggest that these could also work as no-bake energy balls which could be frozen for later snacking? I’ll def. be trying it that way next time. Still- Great tasting baked too.

  31. Thank you SO MUCH for posting this energy bar recipe. I made it a few days ago and went for a bike ride early this morning with one bar (cut into four pieces in a zip lock bag) in my pocket. I stopped at regular intervals and ate a piece, and it kept me going through my ride.

    It is so hard to find something vegan that is COOKED and will hold together for the ride. I find plenty of no-bake energy bars, but that is not what I want. I am vegetarian, and very healthy conscious, and my 24 year old son (the cyclist who got ME into cycling) is vegan, so this is something I can make for the two of us.

    I am going to make a batch as a gift for a cyclist friend.

    Again, thank you!

    Regards
    Robyn

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