The Ultimate Energy Bar Formula
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.
- White beans
- Black beans
- Pinto beans
- Adzuki beans
- Almond butter
- Peanut butter
- ¼ cup of ground flax seed mixed with ¼ cup water
- Pureed pumpkin
- Mashed avocado
- Maple syrup
- Brown rice syrup
- Agave nectar
- Honey (if you’re not vegan)
Recommended soft, sweet fruit
- Mashed banana (about half of one)
- Chopped dates (remove the pits!)
- Crushed pineapple
Recommended optional extracts
Recommended dry spices
- 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 chia seed, almond, pumpkin seed, watermelon seed, and pea protein, and usually use Complement Protein)
- Brown rice flour
- Spelt flour
- Cocoa (max ½ cup)
- Whole-wheat flour
- Buckwheat flour
- Shredded coconut
- Dried cranberries
- 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!]
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.
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)
Excellent! The formula approach works perfect for a college kid 🙂 Can’t wait to try my hand at these. Thanks for sharing.
Ah yes! Been dying to make my own bars on a consistent basis. No excuses now!
I’m making some tonight with the kids, wonder what they come up with. Standby…
do they need to be refrigerated?
No, it is not necessary to refrigerate the bars, but you can to make them last longer (probably up to a week).
I usually leave half on the counter that I finish within a few days, and freeze the rest.
Awesome!! This will be great for travel!
uuuum maybe i dont know
Food safety specialists would disagree with leaving these on the counter. Time, temp, moisture, protein…recipe for food borne illness. I would refrigerate up to 5 days or freeze them. But, that’s just me.
95% of those ingredients are shelf stable, the “Food Safety Specialists” would not disagree. The ones that aren’t shelf stable are the binders/fruit (applesauce, bananas, not dried). They would be just fine out for a week. We let chocolate chip cookies sit in a cookie jar and they have eggs in them. Food for thought.
Love this!! How about a veggie burger formula?!
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?
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: https://www.nomeatathlete.com/stevia-vegan-banana-bread/
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!)
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.
Oats? can you use steel cut oats, and if yes, do you cook them first?
My only worry is the Agave. It is higher fructose than corn syrup. It is really bad and one clue is that it tastes too good to be true. Yacon is the best alternative for a syrup consistency.
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.
Love the flexibility with the “formula”! Thanks for sharing!
LOVE this, Matt! Thanks to you AND Christine! (Clearly, her talent is being wasted at law school!)
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.
Fantastic, Matt! I’m curious about that cookbook now.
Salads next, please??? I have my own “formula” but I’m super-interested to hear your take on it!
This is exactly what I have been looking for! Thank thank thank!
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! 🙂
I just threw a batch together with peanut butter and honey nut cheerios! Turned out awesome!
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 🙂
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!
We’ve been saying “Greens, Grains, ‘n ‘Gumes” (legumes) for years here!
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?
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.
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.
I was WONDERING what happened to those Friday posts! Thanks for getting her back for a bit for this “recipe”!
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. 🙂
I’m gluten-intolerant and can’t eat oats. Is there a substitute? Thanks!
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.
No, thank you!!!
i’m planning on trying quinoa flakes – wish me luck
You can get gf oats. Bob’s Red Mill and Trader Joe’s both have gf packages of rolled oats.
Oats themselves do not contain gluten, but are usually contaminated with gluten. You can buy Gluten Free oats in health food/natural food stores or online.
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.
Wondering if this could be made raw? With all of these great ingredients I would hate to kill the nutrients in the oven.
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: https://www.nomeatathlete.com/homemade-granola-bars/
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!
Pretty sure this is going to revolutionize my energy bar experience 🙂 Thank you, Christine (and Matt)!
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!
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!
Yes, flax meal is another name for ground flax seed.
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…!
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!
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!
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. 😀
This is a really great base recipe. I followed example #2 for the most part and my husband and I both love them. Thanks!
How about quinoa as the dry base ingredients? I can process it into something powdery. Anyway, I’m going to try it.
@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!
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.
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
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.
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!
YUM. Just got in from a run, and eating my energy bars made to this formula. I used the following;
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.
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Hi all! I bought some of the ingredients last night, but didn’t get oats or fruit..I’m not gluten free, vegetarian or an athlete, just a mom who’s family DEVOURS clif bars…so I don’t have puffed rice, aramath, millet or quinoa. Or money to get those…any idea how I can use basic “everyday” things in this recipe? Can anyone post photos of the batter so I can get an idea of consistency before committing to baking these with my 3 yr old?
Btw, I like the formula. I used formulas everyday in my cooking and baking but never realized I do it till i saw this. I look up several recipes for the same thing, and create my own according to what I have lying around. But the ingredients for these bars aren’t anywhere close to cheap, so I don’t want to waste them with trial and error. Thanks for the insight, and the formula!
Any luck Carrie with your non-oats formulation?
I always sub buckwheat flakes for oatmeal. That’s what I’m planning to do… with that change I can actually make these.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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?
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?
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.
Thanks so much for this!! Very handy. I’m going to try making some bars using soybeans haha, hope they work out ok!
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!
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
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!!!
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!!
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.
these energy bars are so cool and they look so yum
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??
Is the nutritional information spreadsheet still available somewhere?
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. 🙂
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!
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!
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.
Can you leave it not baked?
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.
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!
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?
Would it be possible to include cooked Quinoa? Perhaps in place of the “beans”?
You could use quinoa flour as the dry ingredient!
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.
Just found this site. Have a silly question about the oats — whole, steel cut, or rolled?
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(:
featured this on my blog! i truly loved them!
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.
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!
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.
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
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!
Here’s an interesting update:
Toss the batter into a crockpot for a few hours and you get a delicious little cake-like thing.
Has anyone tried to make this with chickpea flour? Can that be used as one of the “flour” category items? ~ Thanks
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!!
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…??
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!
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
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?
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.
OMG the chocolate happy bars turned out phenomenal! I can’t believe there are beans in here!
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!
I would replace beans with cooked quinoa. I have subbed it many times before in similar recipes as my son was allergic to beans.
If one cooks ones beans in a slow cooker simmering on high heat for about six hours anyone having problems digesting beans will likely not have any potential problems digesting beans.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
Yes, that’s right
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?
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?
Yes if one dehydrated the formed bars and then also additionally placed the bars in vacuum seal pack bags; it would definitely last quite a long time indeed.
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!
Hi I just veered off course and tried a super experimental version
~1.5c black beans
1 t vanilla
1/4c brown sugar
1/3c ground flax
with some water
1 T butter
1 T veg oil
1/4c Chick Pea Flour
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..
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!!!!
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!
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
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!
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.
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!!!!
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!
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!
Very cool how you gave us a formula not just a few recipes. I often dont have specific ingredients but a doable stand in instead. I just made these with 1/3 cup each of arrowroot powder, cocoa powder, and graham flour, white beans, peanut butter, applesause, honey, and chocolate chips. My boys are licking the bowl so i am optimistic about the final results! Thanks for the info.
Hi, I’m not a runner or a vegetarian but I do love to cook and since I have high cholesterol I needed to substitute something for my daily homemade biscottis. Even though I baked them with very low sugar they did have a lot of butter. So I decided to look for something high energy and low cholesterol and less sugar and this formula is awesome! Just made a batch with black and garbanzo beans, Smart Balance peanut butter (no trans fats), homemade pear/quince sauce with honey, local honey, almond extract, cocoa powder, raisins and figs and of course the oats and salt.. must say this is best combo ever. Oh, I sprinkled cinnamon over top before baking. Yummy. And now I can have one in the morning with my coffee instead of my high calorie, high fat, biscotti! Can’t wait to try more combinations but am loving the basic formula.
Thank you very much for posting this! I have already made 3 different batches and played around with ingredients! Works really well!
Cashew butter gives these bars a frosting-like taste! These were awesome:
Cherry Vanilla bars:
15 oz can cannelini beans
1/2 cup cashew butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1.5 cups of oats (I use Bob’s old fashioned oats)
1/2 cup vanilla hemp protein powder
1/2 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup coconut
– bake these about 5 minutes extra
I also love the black bean happy bars, but I use 1/2 cup chocolate hemp protein powder instead of the rice flour, a whole banana, and use maple syrup for the sweetener.
Thanks so much for this recipe. I make energy bars every week now! I like having less sweetener and more protein in my bars. I’m making and freezing a variety of beans, one pound at a time, so I always have soaked/cooked beans on hand. Much less gassy than the canned variety, too!
Hi. Why must these be baked? Can they be eaten without heating-up the oven? Thanks!
No oil of any kind is recommended to keep the bars chewy????
[…] burgers, in baking etc. I use beans to make energy bars/protein bars (I like this recipe formula: https://www.nomeatathlete.com/homemad…gy-bar-recipe/) and freeze them to use for snacks throughout the month. I recently discovered that chickpeas, […]
[…] market (such as cliff, luna, larabars, etc). I like to follow this recipe formula and mix it up: https://www.nomeatathlete.com/homemad…gy-bar-recipe/ Sometimes you can cut up some veggies like cauliflower, carrots, celery, snap peas, jicama, […]
This formula is a life-saver! I’m always looking for new snacks to make that I can bring to work, and this is just great… not only are they filling, but they’re healthy too. My sister and I brought a couple batches on vacation with us last week and they were perfect.
This is great! So much variety from one simple recipe. My first batch was great… cant wait to keep making them!
I just love this formula concept! I will be trying my hand at these very soon. I have to ask though, what purpose does the 1/4 c soft fruit serve? It does not seem like enough to really add to the sweetness of the overall taste. Is it more for texture? I guess you could say I am kind of a minimalist, and I prefer to eliminate unnecessary ingredients. Thank you so much for sharing!
[…] those for future use. My husband and I enjoy those when out on the trail. I use this formula: https://www.nomeatathlete.com/homemad…gy-bar-recipe/ Hummus and crackers is another one. I can even get my SAD junk food husband to eat a garden salad […]
[…] (Via No Meat Athlete) […]
I was just about to go and make these then remembered that our oven died earlier today… Saved the formula for later!
I just tried making these today, but I was wondering what the consistency of the finished bar should be like? The taste it really nice but they seem like they are almost underbaked? I just tried putting them back into the oven to see it that will change. Maybe I pulsed the mixture too long?…
[…] I will have a larabar or cliff bar. My go to recipe formula for making energy bars is this one: https://www.nomeatathlete.com/homemad…gy-bar-recipe/ I was very enthusiastic about going vegan in the beginning, and I wanted to tell the world what I […]
I’ll have to try this! I’d love a salad formula–obviously, there are countless salad recipes out in the wild, but I’d love to hear what formula you follow!
[…] Source: Best Energy Bar Recipe […]
Just tried the black bean chocolate version as a test of the formula. Success! It is like I just made my own chocolate clif bar! Thanks for posting this…and thanks for all the ideas.
Just finished making these bars (as per the recipe above) for the first time, taste great but does anybody know the nutritional facts about these bars e.g. protein carbs fats etc.???
No need to reply to my request for nutritional info – just found the spread sheet. thank you.
this is great! thank you
I’m just wondering what you would consider almond and/or coconut meal (leftover from my nut mylk production). Is it considered a dry base or a stir in? I have a LOT of this meal and want create a really delicious recipe. I’m hoping this will help!!
PS Would you ever substitute lentils for beans?
I’m wondering if you have perfected a no-bake energy bar formulae!
I just wanted to say how awesome this is. I have a son who is allergic to dairy, eggs, seeds, and nuts. And who only eats beans if they don’t actually look or taste like beans. Which makes getting enough protein into him super tricky. Not to mention healthy portable snacks are difficult to find too. I made a batch and loved these, and while my son wasn’t impressed, he didn’t hate them either. I can’t wait to try again with different flavors or combos until we find a few that the little guy will eat. Thank goodness for the internet and people who experiment!
What is the best way to store them? Zip lock? Cookie jar?
We love them, thanks!
May maximum shelf life and protein content per bar
This is the best article yet on nutrition bar recipes due to the simplicity of this formula approach. I am so grateful and excited, whereas before I was overwhelmed and discouraged. This makes it possible for us to be creative without having to learn a million different recipes. Thank you so much!
how do you package the bars for training? (like bring some with you while training.)
Absolutely love the site, my wife forwarded it onto me and your smoothies have become a staple of my breakfast.
For the energy bar recipe is there an alternative to oats that isn’t any kind of grain? or can you omit them and still get results?
just love this energy bar..the options are limitless in what you add and what you end up with. Love it LOVE IT LOVE IT.. thanks
I have two boys with food allergies so we can’t have any nuts, sunflower seeds, eggs, or dairy. To top it off my kids all like completely different flavors (ex my oldest likes zucchini but hates pumpkin and banana). I came across this formula and did some experimenting. Lo and behold, I came up with something all THREE of my kids will eat and no one is allergic to!!!! (Giddy happy dance) And they want to eat the whole pan (teens and preteens, go figure). I love that these are full of fiber, don’t have much sugar especially compared to store bought granola bars, and they are easily portable. Plus, while I am not vegetarian or vegan, I love all things plant based and like being able to feed my family a variety. Here’s what I used:
1 can black beans
1/4 c agave
1/4 c applesauce
1/2 c avacado
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp white sugar (they are KIDS after all, I plan to phase out the sugar over the next few batches)
1 1/2 c oats
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 c toasted quinoa flour (As a peanut lover who can’t eat them, I SWEAR quinoa smells and tastes like peanuts when toasted)
1/2 c cocoa pwd
1/3 c mini choco chips
I occasionally have problems with the “dough” being too dry, so I just add water until it looks right. Thank you Christine for your creativity. I am thinking of trying to invent a snickerdoodle version next. 🙂
Sorry, but the thing that came out of my oven was un edible. (Twice)
I folowed the instructions to the letter.
I’m sorry, but I think a formula is not the right way for something like this
I had such high hopes 🙁
This is wonderful! Thank you. I love all your good and healthy information! So thankful.
This looks great! Can’t wait to try it. Thank you so much. I need to figure out how to pin this on Pinterest. That’s where I keep my food stuff. Can you tell me how I can pin this?
This is hands down the best recipe formula for protein bars I’ve found. I mix and match ingredients depending on the season, my mood, or what I have on hand. I bake mine in a 9X9 pan, let them cool, cut them into 16 squares, individually wrap them (in soy-based wax paper), then put them in the freezer. Since they’re individually wrapped, it’s easy to grab one and take it with me in the car when I’m on the go.
I’m buying soy based wax paper! What a great idea. Thanks!
Formula is way off. I can’t help but think so many of you are working off memory when you put these recipes together. I added water as suggested but had to add a lot of water. The whole thing was a nightmare.
OMG! Thank you for this. I’ve been searching everywhere to find ways to make my own protein bars using my own preferred ingredients. In the past, I’ve tried many commercially made bars which always have cocoa butter or dark chocolate. I have an intolerance to cocoa, milk and eggs which took years to figure out. This is great! I’m looking forward to making my own! Your a life saver.
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