Breakfast | Recipes

Homemade Energy Bars

Written by Rebecca Peters-Golden

It’s September again, and we all know what that means.

Rather than the childlike glee of new pencils, blank notebooks, and Lisa Frank Trapper Keepers that once marked the beginning of a new semester, September now means figuring out this year’s program of how to keep up your energy during the day without spending a lot of time or money on snacks.

When I’m hungry I simply cannot behave sensibly (read: concentrate, converse, be civil to strangers). This makes snacking an absolute necessity.

homemade energy bars
Photo: Casey Barber

But it gets really expensive to buy food throughout the day, and, for those of us without easy access to anything better than vending machines, the only options seem to be candy bars, chips, or . . . horror of horrors, The Protein Bar.

I mean, look, I dig the occasional Clif Bar, don’t get me wrong; protein bars do keep up energy and distract from gnawing hunger.

Still, whenever I eat one, I always find myself fantasizing about something better . . .

homemade energy bars
Photo: Casey Barber

A few years ago, I decided to take what is good about a protein bar—the nuts for protein, the dried fruit for fiber and taste and make my own homemade energy bars.

They would not only fill me up, give me some much-needed energy, and not bankrupt me, but would also be something that I didn’t dread choking down.

All you need to make your own energy bars is a food processor and an oven, and they can be made, cooked, and conveniently packaged in an hour, tops.

homemade energy bars
Photo: Casey Barber

After my bars are cooled, I cut them, wrap them individually and stick them in the freezer. I just grab one (or two, depending on the day) every morning and toss it in my bag where it defrosts and keeps until I’m feeling snacky.

They also work well as travel snacks, since they keep just fine at room temperature.

The best part about these is that by changing the combination of fruit and nuts each time you make them, you won’t get bored. When you make your own homemade energy bars, the bulk foods aisle is the limit.

homemade energy bars
Photo: Casey Barber

The recipe below is flexible enough to accommodate however you decide to mix and match—dried pineapple and papaya with hazelnuts and walnuts, maybe?

You can also add things that fit your own nutritional needs: powdered milk for calcium, flax seeds for omega-3s, etc.

You’ll be energized, ready to work, and, as god is my witness, you’ll never lose another quarter in a vending machine again.

homemade energy bars
homemade energy bars

Homemade Energy Bars

Yield: 16 bars
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Homemade energy bars with fruit, nuts, and healthy sweeteners can be customized any way you want. And they'll keep you full and happy all day.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (324 grams) dried fruit, such as apricots, cherries, cranberries, and raisins
  • 1 cup (113 grams) nuts and/or seeds, such as almonds, pecans, cashews, and pepitas
  • 1 1/2 cups (135 grams) rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup (57 grams) wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons amaranth seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 cup (128 grams) creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup (105 grams) honey
  • 1/3 cup (98 grams) maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13 baking pan with parchment paper, making sure there is enough to overhang all sides of the pan.
  2. In a food processor, pulse together all ingredients until they make a dough that is moist and chunky.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until just golden brown.
  4. Allow to cool completely, then cut into 16 bars.
  5. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
  6. Or wrap individually in foil, saran wrap, or sandwich bags and store in the freezer for about two months.

Notes

For gluten free bars, substitute 1/2 cup rice bran or almond meal for the wheat germ, and substitute 1/2 cup rice flour + 1 teaspoon xanthan gum for the wheat flour.

For vegan bars, substitute maple syrup for the honey.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 110Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 76mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 4g

The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.

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10 Comments

  1. the trifecta of yummy, easy, and nutritious! (or the trifecta of portable, attractive, and wont ooze grease into your backpack. also an admirable combination.) happy to see the little lobster lurking at the edge of the plate again, this time no doubt preparing a claw-pump for your suggestion to derive omega-3s from flax seed instead of seafood.

  2. These do sound easy and delicious. A prefect replacement to the pre-packaged ones my husband and I go to for a quick snack. A big bonus is that keep most of these things in my kitchen already!

  3. Thanks for this. I’m addicted to Luna Bars followed closely by Kashi bars, then Lara bars and so making my own would not only make sense but it would be a lot cheaper too. Now, if you could work on a Luna or Lara bar replacement recipe for me…

  4. I’m really excited to make these. I’ve been wanting to make granola bars for my son’s class for a long time but the recipe I have (from Mark Bittman), I don’t quite “get.”

    I’ll use agave instead of honey. Can you also suggest a variation that uses DRIED FRUIT instead of sweetener?

  5. You are so my hero for offering gluten-free variations. BTW, oats aren’t by default free of gluten, due to cross contamination during processing. But, gluten-free folks would hopefully know that they need to buy GF oats (at least if they’ve done their homework, which I hope they have!).

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