Monday, August 12, 2013

Homemade Energy Bars: A Preservative-Free Alternative

I have had several requests now for my energy bar recipe, so it is time to share it.  I have several variations I make and I change it up almost as often as I make it.  This is one of those recipes you can have a lot of fun with and make your own by adding ingredients you might like while taking out others you may not.  To keep these healthy, do not add sugar in place of the honey and molasses.  You will get enough natural sugars from the dates and dried fruits; the honey and molasses both have health benefits that table sugar does not.  Also, do not use already chopped dates in place of whole dates because chopped dates have added preservatives to keep the fruit “fresh.”  If you change up the recipe, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section about the changes you made and how you liked the bars.  The recipe I am including is the most recent version I made.

Nixon Energy Bars

20 Medjool dates
¾-1 c. almonds
¾-1 c. pecans
¼ c. unsweetened coconut flakes
2 Tbsp. 100% cocoa powder
1½ Tbsp. ground or whole bean coffee
2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil
2 Tbsp. pure blackstrap molasses
2 Tbsp. local honey
1½ oz. dried cherries
1½ oz. dried blueberries

Any aspect of the recipe requiring the use of your hands to mix the ingredients is best done by putting some oil or butter on your hands so the mixture does not stick to you.  You may need to put the oil on your hands a few times throughout the process.

Remove the pits from the dates and place the dates in a large bowl.  Either process the dates in a food processor (if you have a high-end food processor-otherwise you risk ruining it) or mash them with your hands until the fruit is well blended.  Grind the almonds and pecans, as fine or as course as you like, and place in a separate bowl.  Grind the coffee to a very fine texture (even if it is already ground) and add to the almond/pecan meal.  Add the coconut, cocoa, sea salt, and cinnamon to the almond/pecan meal and mix well.

Combine the dates and the almond mixture until mixed well.  It will be a coarse consistency until the rest of the ingredients are added.  Add the coconut oil, molasses, and honey to the mixture and combine until all dry ingredients are incorporated and the texture is very thick.  Using your hands, work in the dried cherries and blueberries.

Line a large pan with wax paper and begin forming the bars.  Thickness should be about 1 inch.  You have several options in this: one large bar that you can then cut into pieces, separate bars sized to your liking (no bigger than 1 inch x 3 inches, though, unless you want a lot of unnecessary calories-these bars are very satisfying after just a few bites), or shape into small, bite-sized pieces.  Cover the bars with another sheet of wax paper and fold over the edges so the bars are not exposed to the air.  Place in the refrigerator or freezer (frozen bars on hot days are a nice treat) until cold.  Once cold, if you chose to make one large bar, cut the bar into smaller pieces.  Transfer the bars in the wax paper to a Ziploc bag and keep refrigerated or frozen.  Eat when you need a quick burst of energy or before and/or after a workout.  Enjoy!

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