Whether you’re a prepper, an outdoorsman or an extreme sports enthusiast, energy bars can be an excellent source of nutrition. Unfortunately, commercial bars can come at a hefty price; at $2-$3 per bar, they don’t offer much in terms of variety, and come with the added risk of making you put on pounds from the copious amounts of sugar, saturated fat and artificial flavors.
By making your own energy bars, you spend less per bar and lessen the risk of gaining weight. You also benefit from a wider variety of flavors and textures; whether you prefer your bars chewy or crunchy, you can make bars that suit your taste. In this article, we list some delectable, healthy energy bar recipes that’ll give you the nutrients you need without breaking the bank.
What you’ll need
Before going to the recipes, here’s a list of some of the cooking and storage implements you’ll need:
– Baking sheets
– Parchment paper
– Refrigerator (or another way to cool your bars)
– Blender or food processor
– Mixing bowl with wooden spoon
– Airtight containers
Apple Pie Granola Bars
Sweetened naturally with honey, this lip-smacking recipe is packed with nutty goodness and tastes almost like the pies grandma used to make. You can even make these bars crumbly or chewy to suit your taste.
- 2 cups rolled oats
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- ½ cup shredded coconut
- ⅓ cup pitted dates
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup chopped dried apples
Step 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
Step 2. In a blender or food processor, pour in the oats and blend/pulse for 5-10 seconds.
Step 3. Combine the oats, shredded coconut and pecans in a bowl, then spread over a baking sheet.
Step 4. Place the baking sheet in the oven, letting the mixture toast; after about 5 minutes, remove the baking sheet and stir the mixture to keep it from burning.
Step 5. Place the baking sheet back in the oven for another 5 minutes. Remove the baking sheet once the mixture has turned golden brown.
Step 6. Place the pitted dates in the blender or food processor, blending or pulsing until the dates become paste-like in consistency.
Step 7. Combine the coconut oil, honey and vanilla extract in a saucepan, stirring over medium heat. As the liquid gets hot, mix in the date paste, stirring until all ingredients combine.
Step 8. Pour the hot mixture in a bowl, adding the chopped apples, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir until it’s all combined.
Step 9. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; press the mixture onto it, then cover with plastic wrap. Let it cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
Step 10. After it has cooled, you can start cutting the slab into bars; one slab should give you about 20 bars. Place the bars in an airtight container. Allow to cool at room temperature for more crumbly bars, or store in the fridge for firmer bars.
3-Ingredient No-Bake Bars
No kidding, this recipe is quick, easy and allows for “modification” by adding from a long list of suggested ingredients. It also doesn’t use sugar, as its sweetness only comes from the fruit.
Follow the recipe as a base, then add what you like from the list.
- 1 cup unprocessed nuts of your choice (i.e. almonds, pecans, walnuts or cashews)
- 1 cup dried fruit of your choice
- 1 cup pitted dates (usually 12-15 dates)
Step 1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend or pulse for a few seconds to chop and mix them up. Stop occasionally to separate the dates if they form clumps.
Step 2. Replace the cover of the blender or food processor. Blend or pulse again, this time for a full 30 seconds or so to mix up all the pieces.
Step 3. Repeat the process of scraping the mixture off the blender/food processor’s blade and the edges of the bowl; do this for another 1-2 minutes, or until it all clumps into a ball.
Step 4. On a flat surface, lay some wax paper or plastic wrap and place the “dough” on top. Press the dough until it’s roughly a thick square, measuring about 8 x 8 inches. Wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or, ideally, overnight.
Step 5. Transfer the hardened square onto a cutting board. With a sharp knife, cut into 8 bars or 16 squares, as desired. Wrap each bar or square individually and store in an airtight container.
Step 6. Place the bars in the fridge to keep for several weeks, or in the freezer for as long as 3 months. Bars can be consumed straight from the fridge or freezer, and will be firm but not rock-solid; bars kept under room temperature will be soft and sticky.
Notes: As an option, you can roast whatever nuts you use before mixing with the dates and dried fruit. You can also add the following for more variety:
- Chia seeds
- Shredded coconut
- Cacao nibs
- Cocoa powder
- Crystallized ginger
- Lemon zest
- Ground cardamom
Cherry-Almond Energy Bars
Here’s another no-bake recipe that’s easy to make, and the only equipment needed is a blender or food processor and your fridge. This recipe is great for health buffs as it uses stevia, a natural sweetener with a lower glycemic index. It’s a quick sweet tooth fix that provides a savory boost of energy out on the trail.
- 2 ½ cups raw slivered almonds
- ⅓ cup flaxseed meal
- ⅔ cup dried cherries
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- 8 drops liquid stevia
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 2 tablespoons water
Step 1. Combine all the dry ingredients in your food processor.
Step 2. Pulse until all ingredients are ground up, then add water; continue to pulse until the mixture forms a ball.
Step 3. On an 8 x 8-inch baking sheet lined with parchment paper, lay and press the mixture firmly.
Step 4. Slice into bars and serve, or store in airtight containers and refrigerate. Yields 8 large bars.
If you want more proof that making your own power bars is a healthier option over store-bought bars, look no further than the nutritional information on a commercial brand of granola bars:
This particular brand has way more sugar than any of the featured recipes. Just 2 bars contain a whopping 12 grams of sugar and only 2 grams of dietary fiber. By consuming a store-bought bar like this, you may not be able to burn all the sugar through your physical activities and risk forcing your body to store the excess sugar as fat.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Energy Bars
This no-bake, less-fuss treat can be consumed before or after your physical activity. Munching on a few of these should provide just enough energy to help you through a day’s hike, a long climb or other strenuous tasks.
- 1 cup raisins (or dates)
- ⅓ cup peanut butter (preferably crunchy)
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- ⅓ cup agave syrup
- ½ cup shredded coconut
- 1½ (cups?) raw rolled oats
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Step 1. Pour all the ingredients into a food processor, except for ½ cup of the rolled oats.
Step 2. Pulse 5-7 times, adding the rest of the oats until all ingredients are mixed well, but still coarse.
Step 3. With a tablespoon, scoop heaps of the “dough” into a muffin pan. Flatten the “dough” with your fingers.
Step 4. Let cool in your fridge for at least an hour to harden. When stored in an airtight container, the bars should be good for around two weeks.
There are dozens of benefits to making your own energy bars at home. Besides saving money, you can turn it into an additional income stream if you whip up the right quantity. Making your own power bars also allows you to be more creative; you can experiment with the recipes by changing up some of the ingredients. For instance, there’s no rule that prevents you from replacing almond butter with peanut butter, stevia instead of sugar, or substituting any of the ingredients with similarly tasty or more nutritious ones. Whatever you do, don’t go overboard with the “sweeteners” or you undermine the point of cost-saving and making a healthier alternative to the store-bought variety.