Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Energy Bars

     I'm always looking for ideas for quick healthy snacks especially for after school. If there are diet restrictions, it's even harder to come up with a variety that the kids and my husband will eat.
     A friend of mine mentioned finding an energy bar that her husband really enjoyed, so I checked it out. The recipe has a lot of flexibility to make it to your own tastes and my son really enjoys them (and he's always hungry).
     The recipe for Homemade Cliff Bars was from Enlightened Cooking. Yum! I had never tried Cliff bars, but my family loves a variety of snack bars. It's awesome to be able to make them myself and change up the ingredients to make them the way my family likes them. It is a very flexible recipe with lots of healthy ingredients. Just make sure you keep the ratio of dry to wet ingredients and replace ingredients with similar ones or the bars may be too sticky or dry.
     Jeanette's Healthy Living noted trying the recipe with quinoa flakes instead of quick-cooking oats. I had not tried quinoa flakes yet, but I like the nutrition in that seed. We tried it and it worked great.
     We chose dried cherries, peanut butter and toasted almonds for this recipe. I really like using rice syrup since it is lower in sugars than honey, but honey has its benefits, too.

Energy Bars                                                                               print recipe
Adapted from Enlightened Cooking

1 c. quinoa flakes or gluten-free quick-cooking oats
1 c. GF crisp rice cereal
1/4 c. ground flax seed, rice bran or a combination
1/2 c. chopped nuts or seeds or a combination
1/4 c. finely chopped dried fruit (fruit that is sticky works best)
1/2 c. nut butter, your choice
1/3 c. gluten-free rice syrup (no barley malt in it) or honey
1 t. gluten-free vanilla
1/2 t. cinnamon, if desired

     Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Melt syrup and nut butter in a microwave safe bowl (45 - 60 sec.) or in a small pan on low heat on the stove top. Do not cook. Add vanilla.
     Pour nut butter over dry ingredients and mix really well. Pour into a lightly greased 8-inch square pan and press down firmly. Refrigerate until firm - about 1 hour.
     Cut into bars and wrap into individual servings, if desired. Keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
     Chocolate chips can be added in place of some of the nuts. The flavor combinations are limited only to your imagination. If you like a particular energy/snack bar, check the ingredients to see what flavors, nuts, fruits, spices, etc. that they use to get ideas.

     We tried melting 1/4 cup of chocolate chips in the microwave (30 sec. at a time on 50% power and stirring in between until melted) and adding it to the mixture right at the end. You can still use all of the other ingredients. They turned out great (see above picture). Remember to mix well.

     Have fun experimenting. What flavor combinations do you enjoy most?

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