homemade energy bars I: whole grain chews

There’s only one problem with getting into fitness: inevitable weakening in the face of the supplement craze. I continually have to remind myself that real food is often enough. Beyond the shakes that help me meet my protein requirements, there’s no creatine, glutamine, ecdysterone, 5-HTP, or anything else I can’t pronounce in my kitchen.

This is why I have been combing blogs and books, and experimenting with combination after combination of natural ingredients to bring you a collection of the tried tested and true homemade energy bars. I hope you appreciate the results: many almonds were harmed in the process.

homemade energy bars

With the exception of a few of the newer, trendier bars (which will cost you a chiseled arm and leg to consume regularly), most commercial energy bars are full of weird ingredients, and taste like chalk. Making a whole pan of your own is a matter of less than five bucks and 15 minutes in the kitchen. Stock up on oats, coconut, honey, peanut butter, nuts and dried fruits, and you’ll have everything you need on hand to whip up any number of the bars on this site. Keep them on the counter for a week, or wrap ’em in foil and freeze them for future long rides or hikes

I like to alternate recipes to keep me from getting bored. Some bars are baked, which tend to be lighter and crispier, while the unbaked ones are chewier. The baked ones are more cookie-like, while the pressed ones tend to be sweeter and more intense.

homemade energy bars

The unbaked ones (like the recipe I am sharing today) need a lot more sticky binder than you’d expect to keep them from falling apart. Please don’t make the mistake I did and try to cut down on the peanut butter! If you’re worried about the fat content of one whole cup of peanut butter, cut the bars into smaller cubes.

These bars are dense and satisfying, perfect to eat during long, slow workouts over an hour long. They are sweetened with all-natural ingredients—honey, dried fruit, and natural peanut butter. Honey is made up of fructose and glucose and is a simple, or single-molecule sugar. This means that it enters your bloodstream quickly—translating to more energy bang for your buck.

homemade energy bars

Athletes take note: carbs (formerly known as sugar) are your friend and fuel. Remember that it is also important to consume simple carbs after a workout too, when your muscles need glycogen restocking. (See this article for more information than you care to read here.)

All that aside, they’re just plain tasty and convenient. And they fit perfectly in laptop bags, glove compartments, and even dainty purses.

Whole Grain Energy Chews

Ingredients

¼ cup almonds, roughly chopped
2 cups rolled oats
¼ cup dried apricots, chopped up
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds
½ cup Red River Cereal or Bob’s Red Mill 10 Grain Cereal
½ cup honey (may use less, but with each reduction you risk the bars not holding together as well)
¼ tsp salt
1 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350, and toast the oats, almonds, and pumpkin/sunflower seeds on a baking sheet until just golden and fragrant. (Watch carefully, they burn quickly!)
  2. Add the fruit and seeds to the oat and nut mixture. Mix well.
  3. Bring ½ cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add cereal, stir and remove from heat. Allow to sit for 2 minutes.
  4. Add peanut butter, honey, salt and vanilla to the pan and return to medium low, stirring often for 7 minutes. The mixture should start to shine and pull away easily from the sides of the pan. Stir constantly to avoid it sticking to the bottom. Do not overheat.
  5. Add the warm peanut butter mixture to the oat mixture, and combine thoroughly. Press very firmly into an 8×8 glass or metal pan (place a piece of foil that matches the size of the pan on top and press with your hands.) Leave to rest for at least 2 hours. Cut in 36 small squares and freeze indefinitely, or refrigerate/wrap and keep at room temperature for up to a month. Since the ingredients are all non-perishable, they will likely go stale before they go “bad.”

Nutritional information per 1/36th of a pan (one small square, fits perfectly in a bike bag!): 80 calories, 2 grams fat, 13.5 carbohydrates, 1.7 grams dietary fiber, 2.5 grams protein.

adapted from Whole Grain Gourmet

18 thoughts on “homemade energy bars I: whole grain chews

  1. June 1, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    Wow, those look delicious!! Move over Cliff bars!

    ps. I love the picture on the shoe :)

  2. June 2, 2008 at 11:03 am

    I’ll have to try them out sometime Jen! It could be a nice alternative to what I’ve been eating while hiking over the years.

  3. June 2, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    They are really delicious and they basically melt in your mouth!

  4. sheri
    June 2, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    These look so good, Jen. I will make them and have some kefir and Kombucha on the side!
    Mom

  5. Dawn
    June 12, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Hi Jen — I made these last night, they’re great! Quick question: How long will they keep and do I need to refrigerate them? Thanks!

  6. Lynda
    June 13, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Hey Jen … these look great, but I want to know if I have to exercise to get to eat them??? Also, did you feed the ones photo’d on the shoes to Mark?

  7. June 14, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    You know, I’m not sure who ate those ones… I hope it wasn’t me, but I think that they might have ended up back in the container with the others… now I’m getting paranoid. Thanks!

  8. July 10, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    We would like to feature this recipe on our blog. Please email sophiekiblogger@gmail.com if interested. Thanks :)

    Sophie
    http://blog.keyingredient.com/

  9. October 9, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Jen! I made these tonight! I changed the recipe slightly, mostly because of lack of ingredients. I used the new Mountain Mix from Kashi – we’ll see how they turn out. Thanks for the recipe!

  10. Nadia
    October 21, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Hey, this recipe looks delicious and I would love to try it but I can’t eat peanut butter… do you have any ideas as to a good substitute? More honey? Molasses? If you come up with a idea do you think you could email me? Thanks so much! nads_87@hotmail.com

    1. Matt
      December 13, 2016 at 5:05 am

      Not any of my buiness…but almond butter possibly? Its near the same cosistency…

  11. Jordan
    January 21, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Delicious! Made this earlier this week. I used dried papaya instead of dried apricots just because that’s what I had in the back of the cupboard. (And I mean way in the back…apparently dried papaya doesn’t go stale or bad quickly…). I cut them twice the size of yours. Somewhat irrationally my eyes convince me to eat +++portions if each portion looks small. I can’t say how helpful it was to know I could come to FCP to find lickety-split a healthful, nutritious protein bar recipe. Saved me gads of time searching and trialing. Thanks!

  12. Jennifer
    April 12, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    I’ve made this several times. The first time they came out beautifully, the next three they were all crumbly and wouldn’t stick together. I don’t know what I am doing wrong. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. Jen
      April 12, 2009 at 8:10 pm

      Hm, Jennifer, I’m not sure. Maybe check your recipe one more time to make sure there’s not a typo. Sometimes I copy recipes down wrong from the internet. Also, did you try to cut back on the pb or honey? I find that often makes them crumbly. What grain are you using? Are you adding or changing them otherwise? I’ll try them again soon and send you an email if I find a mistake, but the comments I’ve been getting so far are good, so I really don’t know. You’re sure you aren’t overheating the pb/honey mixture? I don’t think that would REALlY matter but maybe it does in this case. Keep me posted and I’ll try to figure out what might be happening.

  13. Jennifer
    April 18, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    Hi,

    Trying these again. I think I’ve been cheating and not taking the whole 7 minutes with the Red River/pb. I probably got cocky the second and third time I made it and didn’t take enough time. I will let you know how the next batch goes!

  14. patti
    May 23, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    These are awesome! I used almond butter, since I’m allergic to peanuts. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  15. Deb
    October 11, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Wonderful!! They are tasty and satisfying! Thanks for the recipe.