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The real-food revolution is here to stay. Luckily it’s simple as pie to make your own energy bars so you know exactly what you’re fueling with. These four nutrient-dense recipes are great on their own—or use them to inspire a customized creation.
Since you’re already buying the ingredients and putting in the time to make your own energy bars, why not double each batch? You can store extra bars wrapped individually in foil inside an airtight bag in the freezer. As many proponents of meal prepping can attest, doing a little bit of work one day to have food for the entire week can be a sanity-saver during busy training periods.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars
This classic combo of PB and chocolate provides a punch of protein and fat to keep you satisfied and energized.
12/3 cups old-fashioned oats
2/3 cups unsweetened puffed rice cereal
1 cup creamy, salted peanut butter
¼ cup honey
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
11/3 cup chopped peanuts
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
Pulse the oats in a food processor, until coarsely ground. In a saucepan, combine the peanut butter, honey, maple syrup and vanilla over medium heat, until the mixture is more fluid. (Be careful not to burn.) Pour the oats and puffed rice into a large bowl, pour in the peanut butter mixture, and stir until well combined. Let cool completely. Once cooled, add the peanuts and chocolate chips. Line an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish with parchment paper. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the mixture into the dish and press into an even layer. Cover with plastic wrap and let set in the fridge for at least 2 hours to overnight. Cut into 12–14 bars, wrap individually and store in the fridge or freezer.
Tart Cherry, Pecan, and Seed Bars
Simple to make and full of texture with a burst of chewy dried cherries. Customize these bars with your favorite nuts, seeds and dried fruit.
2½ cups unsweetened puffed wheat or rice cereal
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup dried tart cherries, chopped
1/3 cup roasted, salted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 T chia seeds
1 T ground flaxseeds (flax meal)
½ cup honey
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
Heat oven to 300 degrees. Line an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish with parchment paper. Combine the puffed cereal, pecans, cherries, pumpkin seeds, coconut, chia seeds and flax in a bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the honey, vanilla and salt over medium-low heat, until the honey is more fluid. Pour the honey mixture into the bowl and toss with the other ingredients, until well combined. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the mixture into the baking dish and press into an even layer. Bake 30–35 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and let rest for 1 hour. Remove from the pan by lifting the edges of the parchment paper. Cut into 12 squares, wrap individually and store in the fridge or freezer.
More like a slice of soft, moist pumpkin cake, these bars might double as breakfast or dessert, but are ideal for long miles on the bike.
2/3 cup whole-wheat pastry flour*
2/3 cup all-purpose flour*
½ cup oat or coconut flour
½ cup quick oats
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
¼ cup molasses
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
*Gluten-free all-purpose flour may be substituted.
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (through nutmeg). In a separate bowl, whisk together the rest of the wet ingredients. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Pour the mixture into the pan, and bake for 30–40 minutes, until the top is puffed up and golden, and springs back with touch. Remove from oven, lift the parchment paper out of the pan and let the bars cool on a baking rack for 1 hour. Cut into 16–20 bars, wrap individually and store in the fridge for 7–10 days.
Almond Butter and Jelly Bars
No bake, no hassle, these are a perfect pick for quick energy before or during a training session.
1¾ cups pitted dates
1/3 cup dried cranberries
½ cup low-sugar raspberry jam
½ cup quick oats
1/3 cup creamy, salted almond butter
¼ cup chopped almonds
Soak the dates in a bowl of warm water for 15–20 minutes. Drain thoroughly. Add the dates, along with the rest of the ingredients, to a food processor and mix until well combined. Line an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish with parchment paper. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the mixture into the baking dish and press into an even layer. Cover with plastic wrap and let set in the freezer for 30–40 minutes. Cut into 12 squares, wrap individually, and store in the fridge or freezer.
Jessica Cerra is the owner of Fit Food by Jess, a private chef and catering company in Encinitas, Calif., and the co-founder of JoJé Bar. A former professional XTERRA triathlete, Cerra now races for Twenty16 Women’s Professional Cycling Team.