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Power to the Bar

September 20, 2009

If you are waking up around 6 or 6:30am, showering, eating breakfast, and heading off to work, by the time 10:30 or 11am rolls around does your mind wander from the spreadsheet you are working on to your growling stomach? Mine does. I often find myself in this predicament: too early for lunch, especially because I know I’d be hungry again by 3pm, but in need of a snack. Instead of going to Rite Aid and spending $3-$4 on a power bar or unhealthy junk food, try these amazing do-it-yourself power bars.

The basis for this recipe is from my all time favorite cook book, Super Natural Cooking, by Heidi Pease. If you haven’t visited her blog yet, go there, she is an inspiring cook and many of her recipes can be adjusted to fit what you have in the kitchen. They are also healthy.The finished product

The original recipe is in the “explore a wide range of grains” chapter of the cookbook. I remember when I first bought this book I read the entire thing from cover to cover, inspired by her recipes and the lovely photos. When I started this most recent batch, I subbed the walnuts for peanuts we had left over from a hike to Old Rag in Shenandoah. We also subbed the dried cranberries for dried cherries (I recommend), added extra crystalized ginger, and added leftover trail mix from the hike as well (which included dried apricots, random nuts, and other fruits). So, you can really take the original recipe and go anywhere with it. I had left over brown rice syrup from a batch I had made about a year ago.

The original recipe from Super Natural Cooking is as follows:

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1 1/4 cups chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 cup oat bran
1 1/2 cups unsweetened crisp brown rice cereal
1 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup natural cane sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

“Grease a baking pan with the coconut oil.* If you like thick power bars, opt for an 8 by 8-inch pan; for thinner bars, use a 9 by 13-inch pan.
Mix the oats, walnuts, oat bran, cereal, cranberries, and ginger together in a large bowl and set aside. Combine the rice syrup, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir constantly as it comes to a boil and thickens just a bit, about 4 minutes. Power over the oat mixture and stir until the syrup is evenly incorporates.
Spread into the prepared pan and cool to room temperature before cutting into whatever size bars you desire. Makes 16 to 24 bars.”

*The first time I made this recipe, I bought the coconut oil. But it is not really necessary. I think any mild oil to grease the pan will work. Coconut oil is nice, however, to saute veggies in and cook in coconut milk.

The perfect workday snack

Given that we ended up adding more dry parts than planned, we ran out of syrup. Bram quickly threw some more (about a cup and a half) cane sugar in the pan and made a caramel out of that to mix in with the rest. Be careful with this method, because the sugar hardens much faster than the syrup. We placed our bars in the pan with some saran wrap over the tray, followed by a huge cook book and wine book on top, to make sure everything stuck together (we weren’t sure it would stick at first).

The results were lovely. You could probably make the recipe with all sugar and no syrup if you want to skip that. Also, the past bran and brown rice can be used for breakfast. These bars are delicious, cheap, healthy, and tasty. Perfect for hikes, or that 11am or 3pm hunger during the day. Enjoy!

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