Spicy Cacao-Banana Raw Energy Bars

What do you know, another Monday.

But this Monday is special, for lots of reasons, not the least of which are that I’m on spring break and my second-ever 50K is on Saturday.  It’s also the start of the last full week of my first year of blogging, seeing as I started this blog on March 23rd of last year.

See, told you it was special.  Even more exciting, and less me-centric, is the news that my sister, Christine, ran her first 5K yesterday!  Here she is about a quarter-mile from the finish line, on her way to breaking 30 minutes with a time of 29:46.

Judging by the sea of green around Christine, St. Patrick’s Day races are the one time it’s okay to be “that guy” who wears the race shirt to the actual race.  Still, being a No Meat Athlete is far cooler.  And a shout out to my friends at Charm City Run Bel Air who helped put on the race!

Thrive Fitness raw bar and grill

Okay, no grill.  Just bar.  But how could I resist?

This bar is another raw wonder from Brendan Brazier’s Thrive Fitness.  I recently polished off my batch of Carob Strawberry Chia Energy Bars, so this time I went with a different one, the magic ingredient that sucked me in being jalapeno pepper.  (When Erin and I first discovered Brendan’s recipe for a raw mango smoothie with jalapeno, we became more or less infatuated by it, essentially subsisting on mango-jalapeno smoothies alone for about a month.  I don’t rule out that this may have led to the conception of our baby.)

Again, the bars are loaded with superfoods and the right kinds of sugars for endurance training.  Dates, banana, salba (white chia), carob or cacao, macadamia nuts, and more.  The recipe calls for buckwheat, and this time I went ahead and sprouted it rather than using buckwheat flour.

Here’s some buckwheat before sprouting:

And after, the starch having been converted to easy-digesting sugars and protein to amino acids:

All the cool kids are sprouting now.  Are you?

Just like last time, my biggest complaint is that the bars aren’t firm enough to bring on a run; they’re soft and sticky when unfrozen.  (I’m guessing this is a common problem with raw bars.)  Not a huge deal though, since they’re good frozen and can be eaten that way before or after a workout.

Here’s the recipe, printed with Brendan’s permission.  Thanks, Brendan!

Spicy Carob Banana Energy Bars

(from Thrive Fitness)

  • 3/4 cup Medjool dates
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 small banana
  • 1/2 cup sprouted buckwheat (or substitute cooked)
  • 1/4 cup raw carob powder (or substitute raw cacao nibs or roasted carob powder)
  • 1/4 cup salba
  • 1/4 cup macadamia nuts
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp unhulled sesame seeds

Process everything except sesame seeds in a food processor.  Once you have cut the bars, sprinkle them with the sesame seeds.

Just like last time, I put the mixture directly from the food processor into a pan lined with parchment paper, where I shaped it into a brick and then froze it before cutting.

These bars actually taste really good.  They’re sweet and have a little kick from the jalapeno, and they have a nice crunch from the macadamia nuts and the cacao nibs I used.  Give ’em a try and let me know what you think!

Non-bloggers, you are dismissed.  Health bloggers, keep reading for…

A little cross-promotion

I haven’t mentioned it here in a while, but I’ve made a lot of changes to my other blog, Health Blog Helper.  I’ve put a lot of time recently into making the site look nice and adding lots valuable content to share all the info I’m constantly learning about how we can make our health blogs better.  Plus, I put together a new, free email course you can sign up for!  Please check it out if you haven’t been there in a while.



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  1. Congrats to Christine! I can’t wait for my first race, personally. I hope she refueled with one of her sweet treats afterwards
    .-= Evan Thomas´s last blog ..Balance And Contradiction =-.

  2. Congrats to Christine! Love that she sported the NMA shirt!! The bars sound yummy to me. I recently made some raw energy bars and had the same issue. You had to eat them RIGHT out of the freezer or they were kind of a sticky mess!
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..Wholesome Foods Bakery Gluten-Free Giveaway =-.

  3. Go, Chris, Go!

  4. I’ve made some of energy bars in Thrive before, and they are pretty sticky, but they were pretty good. I wanted to try this one, but have a couple of questions. I’m not a big spice fan, so would they still be good without the jalapeno? Also, for the buckwheat, could you use buckwheat flour, or since I’m not into sprouting, how do you cook buckwheat? Sorry for the lame questions, but I know you’ve made a lot of things from Thrive and thought you would know best! Thanks!
    .-= Aimee (I Tri To Be Me)´s last blog ..The Sunday Sampler – Health =-.

    • Aimee, yes I think they’d be just fine without the jalapeno, as long as you like chocolate-banana flavored things.

      I’ve used buckwheat flour in the past, but I always toast it, because I don’t know if it can be eaten raw. I’ve never cooked buckwheat, but here’s how to do it: http://chronicillness.suite101.com/article.cfm/how_to_cook_buckwheat And it’s not really a wheat, so it’s gluten-free!

      • Have you considered dehydrating your concoctions? Would solve the stickiness problem and prolong shelf life without compromising nutrients.
        I use raw buckwheat in my raw pizza crackers, I dehydrate them though- not sure how it would taste otherwise. Love the site!

  5. Oooohh yumyumyum. I like bananas 🙂

    Matt, I am completely in awe of your running skills.

    And YAY Christine!
    .-= Sagan´s last blog ..Disordered and Emotional Eating =-.

  6. Congratulations, Christine!!

    Still not sprouting things here. Just can’t wrap my mind around it yet.
    .-= Nicki´s last blog ..My First =-.

  7. Matt –

    Have you tried making the raw bars and then drying them in a dryer to harden them up. I am thinking that they would act a bit like bananas after a few hours in the low temp dryer. I might try it myself shortly.

    Thanks for another tempting recipe.


    • Damien, that’s a really good idea. I bet it would work. Stupid question: is a dryer the same as a dehydrator? I don’t have one, but I’ve been thinking about it.

      Is there anyway I could rig one up? I know my dad makes beef jerky with some fan and air filter system…

      • Yes – exactly the same. I bought a great one for $200. “Great” means that it has processed a full season of produce from the garden with no problem. It makes fruit purees into fruit roll ups, so I am assuming it will be great. In the meantime, your father’s beef jerky maker would work too, I am sure. Plus, there is some irony there, which is always good.

  8. What a great idea addin some heat to the bars! I have most of those ingredients and am out of homemade bars. Time to pull out the old food processor!

  9. Energy bars looks great 🙂 Love sprouted buckwheat and carob!!!!

  10. Laura M...ski says:

    re: sprouting

    have 2 containers of broccoli and a large one of mung bean in the fridge right now. i’m really liking the broccoli, though…give it a try!

  11. As a bit of cautionary advice from a guy who is a runner and has been a vegetarian for almost 40 yrs—don’t buy into the nonsense that that you are not a real vegetarian if you eat any animal related products (like cheese, eggs,yogurt,etc.). Animal products–preferrably organic—in moderation—are OK–and more importantly—a healthy way to go.

  12. I’m going to try to find the ingredients for those yummy sounding bars – (the buckwheat and dates will be hardest, is my guess). As for “Salba” – do you mean the whole seeds or the ground ones?

    • Tanya, I used whole salba seeds. But I’ve ground it in bars before too. I don’t think it makes a difference, since we can absorb salba when we eat it in whole-seed form as well as ground.

      And I found both dates and buckwheat in the natural food section of Giant, my regular grocery store. It shouldn’t be too hard.

  13. Fishback Boy says:

    Try these out, my least favorite recipe yet, just didn’t fit my taste buds, 2 outta 4 cows.

  14. Sounds yum, will give it a try soon and report back 🙂

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