homemade energy bars III: peanut ginger squares

It seemed fitting that the day after completing my first triathlon, while nursing the pleasant soreness of limbs pushed to their limits, that I should post another recipe in my Homemade Energy Bars series. The balls and chews I’ve already featured seemed to go over well, and so I bring you another fantastic, real food version of those tempting health food store snacks. So here’s another no-bake treat, one as simple as bonding for 5 minutes with your food processor (or, as in my case, your hand-blender-with-fortunate-attachment).

peanut ginger squares

I’m not really one for the energy goos and gels. Preferring instead the taste and texture of real food, I tend to pack my workout bag with things of the grainy-granola variety, as opposed to packages full of something resembling McDonalds’ birthday cake icing. However, even with these proclivities, during my race yesterday I did pound back a pack of Chocolate Outrage Gu midway through my 24 mile bike. With its quick delivery of energy with zero digestive problems, I will definitely lean on these in future race days. But for everyday use (training and running errands when it doesn’t matter if I have to stop for a bathroom break), these are much more satisfying.

peanut ginger squares

Racing, whether in a 5k or an Ironman, peels back the layers of culture and associations that surround our eating and drinking. It strips food down to fuel, and liquid to its hydrating properties. It makes you aware of things most people don’t give 2 cents of their thoughts to, like sodium, carb and protein intake. In short, it can drive you crazy, thinking of your body as a machine to be tweaked and oiled.

Training for that compulsive finish line is a trial of mind and body. It is an ever-building procession of cells and attitudes and obsessions that carry you into the days ahead. As I stood there in the water my mind went strangely blank, and I felt my animal nature rise beneath my skin. For just shy of three hours, my tastes, memories and to-do lists were buried under the power of being that well-fueled machine. I was muscle and sinew and units of energy, and it felt truly euphoric.

If you are sick of seeing plates full of nothing but novelty, reward or diet-induced contraband, go and register for a race. Suddenly everything you eat and drink will feel more satisfying.

Peanut Ginger Squares

1 cup raw or roasted peanuts
1 T minced fresh ginger or 1tsp powdered (this can be adjusted, depending on how much you like ginger)
2 T sesame seeds
1 cup raisins
2 T ground or whole flax seeds
2 T honey
optional pinch salt if the peanuts are unsalted

  1. Grind all ingredients, except for the honey, in a food processor until fairly fine but still having some texture. Avoid processing to the point of creamy peanut butter.
  2. Add honey and process just long enough for it to blend in.
  3. Press into a square about 3/4-inch thick on a plate or square pan and refrigerate for about an hour or more.
  4. Done! Cut into 2-inch squares.

Makes 8-12 bars

7 thoughts on “homemade energy bars III: peanut ginger squares

  1. August 11, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    Yay! Congratulations Jen! I can’t wait to hear more about the race and to give these bars a try. For my part I’ve started biking to the Regional Market–let me know if you want to go sometime.

  2. August 13, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    These are definitely the best ones in the series thus far. In fact, these should be on everyone’s life list… something to try/do at least once.

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  3. Ann
    August 16, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Congrats on your triathlon! The biking and running sound fine, but that swimming part…ugh. I’m still in Cameroon, where peanuts and ginger and honey are plenteous, but sesame and flax seeds are rare or downright impossible to find. I may have to try improvising though; these sound great.

  4. October 6, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    Well done on the triathlon, I am always wasting money on expensive energy bars, so I will give your recipe a try. I really enjoyed your writings on fuelling the body, how you are so aware of what goes into your body. It brought back memories of my triathlon days. Thanks for a great story

  5. January 7, 2014 at 1:31 am

    In case anyone is wondering, I used myfitnesspal.com to calculate the macros of this recipe…

    for 12 people, this recipe amounts to (per bar) 136 cals, 17 carbs, 7g fat, 4 g protein, 4g sodium, and 12 g sugar

    for 8 people the macros increase a bit (per bar): 203 cals, 25 carbs, 11g fat, 6 g protein, 7g sodium, and 17g sugar.

    I omitted the raisins from my recipe (I hate raisins!) and this helps the sugar content go down by a lot as well as the calorie content.

    Either way this is a delicious and healthy recipe when you are looking for an energizing, on the go snack! I like to eat a bar in the afternoon after work just before hitting the gym! Thanks for sharing!