Honey almond power bars
It must be power bar week! On Wednesday, Aimee posted some great-looking cherry energy bars, and here I am today with dried-fruit bars of my own. I bookmarked this recipe awhile back, and made it one morning before work—that’s how quick and easy it is. It’s one of those customize-at-will recipes; there are options for every single item on this ingredient list! Oats (old-fashioned or quick), almonds (use chopped walnuts or pecans instead), sunflower seeds (raw, salted, or honey-roasted), flaxseeds (whole or ground), sesame seeds (raw or toasted), cereal (puffed rice, kamut, or millet), dried fruit (add or substitute things like chopped dried cherries or apricots, goji berries, dark raisins, et al.), nut butter (almond, peanut, or cashew), sugar (raw/turbinado, sucanat, or brown), honey (use agave nectar or brown rice syrup instead), extract (vanilla or almond), and even the sea salt (just use good ol’ table salt).
Some people seem to think that an energy/power bar is the same thing as a protein bar, but they serve very different purposes. For an athlete, or anyone who runs marathons like me, it’s important to distinguish between the two. While protein bars can be good for recovery snacks or meal replacements, a power bar, or energy bar, is actually quite low in protein. It’s meant to be more of a carbohydrate delivery system, providing a mix of slow- and quick-release carbs to fuel workouts, balanced by small doses of fat (to slow digestion) and protein (to aid muscle recovery). So don’t look to a bar like this to keep you full for hours—eat one for a pre-workout energy boost instead.
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 Tbsp flaxseeds
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 cup unsweetened whole-grain puffed cereal
1/3 cup dried blueberries
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup creamy almond butter
1/4 cup raw (turbinado) sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8×8-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Spread oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds and sesame seeds on a rimmed baking sheet.
Bake until the oats are lightly toasted and the nuts are fragrant, shaking the pan halfway through, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the cereal, blueberries, cranberries, and raisins; toss to combine.
Meanwhile, combine the almond butter, sugar, honey, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low, stirring frequently, until the mixture bubbles lightly, 2 to 5 minutes.
Immediately pour the almond butter mixture over the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon or spatula until no dry spots remain.
Transfer to the prepared pan. Lightly coat your hands with cooking spray and press the mixture down firmly to make an even layer (wait until the mixture cools slightly if necessary). Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes, before cutting into 10 bars.
Store the bars in an airtight container at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to a month; thaw at room temperature. These are more delicate than storebought power bars, but I’m quite happy to exchange durability for wholesomeness in this additive- and preservative-free snack. They’re toasty, fruity, nutty, and conveniently grab-and-go!
Yield: 10 bars.
Per bar: 202 calories, 7.5g fat (1g sat), 32.2g carbs, 4g fiber, 4.5g protein.