Sunday, April 20, 2008

Homemade Energy Bars

I ate a bunch of my friend's homemade energy bars when I went and visited him in Truckee over Spring Break, and they were delicious. I've tried to become a foodie (i.e. eat vegetables) in the past few months, so I basically haven't eaten any food in bar form since I finished the hike (where I consumed 90+% of my calories in bar or Little Debbie form). Anyway, I figured making my own bars would be a reasonable way to get the ease of bar-form food without eating processed stuff or paying a bunch for Odwalla or ProBars. So over the last couple weeks, I amassed the following:

Sunflower Seed Nut Butter*
Peanut Butter*
Almond Nut Butter

Brown Rice Syrup
Blue Agave*

dried mixed fruit
raw pumpkin seeds
crispy brown rice
nutty rice
date pieces
rolled oats*
brown flax seed*
chocolate chips*
wheat germ


I got most of the ingredients from the Berkeley Bowl, and a lot of it from the bulk aisle. I'm guessing it's pretty difficult to find brown rice syrup (the only sweetener that has good amounts of complex carbs) or agave nectar (which, although still sugar, is supposedly low glycemic index, meaning less abrupt sugar highs and lows). I also have some whey protein powder I meant to put in, but I forgot. Plus, the powder is sweetened with Splenda, so I'm not that excited about including it.

The basic deal is to mix together between 1/4 to 1/2 cup each of the "Stuff," dump in a whole container of the nut butter, and maybe half that in combos of the sweeteners. Add salt, mix it all together with your hands, smash it flat on a cookie sheet, cut it into bars, wrap them in wax paper, and toss them in the fridge. One batch is about 20 bars.

I think they taste really good, and it's pretty obvious that they are ridiculously calorically dense, which is what I'm shooting for.

The jury is still out on shelf-life, and none of the ingredients have any preservatives, but I bet if you baked them for 10-15 minutes that might help, and it would certainly make them a little stiffer (they currently get pretty wobbly in heat). You might think they'd end up being really sticky thanks to the sweeteners, but if anything, I think they turn out a little oily thanks to all the nuts.

The jury is also still out on the cost. I'll probably try and figure it out once I make two or three more batches and hopefully use up the ingredients (Today I really only made sunflower/agave and peanut/molasses/honey bars). The economist in me thinks that I failed if they turn out to be more than $1 per since that's what I can buy Odwalla bars for at Safeway, and that I should include not only the cost of the ingredients but also the cost of my time at $15 an hour, or whatever I get paid to be a GSI at school. But the rest of me tells that part of me to shut up because I neither want to nor am able to consistently get paid for working at 9 PM on a Sunday night.

Comments or suggestions are most welcome.

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