DIY Energy Bars

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I made my most recent batch of energy bars with a recipe from the magazine EatingWell.  The bars turned out great. I love the addition of pumpkin seeds, peanuts, dried blueberries and mini chocolate chips. The recipe makes 12 bars, which I packed in a plastic container in between sheets of waxed paper. They’ll serve me well through the next phase of Ironman training. I’ll tell you one thing—I look forward to my DIY energy bars so much more than I ever looked forward to a Clif Bar or PowerBar. And it’s important to have something to look forward to during those especially long efforts!

DIY Enery Bars (from EatingWell, July/August 2013; makes 12 bars)

1 cup lightly salted dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup crispy brown rice cereal
1/2 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking rolled oats
1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
1/4 cup dried blueberries
6 dried apricots, diced
3 tablespoons mini chocolate chips
5 tablespoons brown rice syrup or light corn syrup

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch-square baking pan with foil and coat with cooking spray.

Combine peanuts, rice cereal, oats, pumpkin (or sunflower) seeds, blueberries, apricots and chocolate chips in a large bowl. Drizzle with syrup and gently stir until thoroughly combined. Spread in the prepared baking pan. Coat another piece of foil with cooking spray and place on the bar mixture, sprayed-side down. Place another pan on top and press firmly to compress the mixture. (Pressing before baking helps the bars hold together after baking.) Remove top pan and foil.

Bake until just beginning to turn golden at the edges, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Carefully lift the baked square out of the pan by holding the edges of the foil and place on a cutting board, leaving the foil underneath. Cut in half, then cut each half crosswise into 6 bars. Let cool completely before lifting the bars off the foil.

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