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How to make your own energy bar

5 Easy Homemade Energy Bars

Do you want tasty treats to help energize your workout? Then consider making your own “energy” bars. Beyond great taste, you will have control over the ingredients. You’ll likely save money too!

Although clever marketing fools many, most commercial bars are nothing special.  You can create delicious bars in your own kitchen that will power your workout just as well, if not better, than an expensive bar.

And you don’t need special ingredients. In fact, many homemade energy bar recipes tend to be overly complicated and claim to be healthy because of hyped-up ingredients like coconut oil, agave nectar, or a protein powder.  Or they boast being “naturally sweetened” implying that something like organic brown rice syrup,  coconut sugar, or sugar from dried fruit is better than regular sugar (it isn’t).

READ  Are "Natural" Sweeteners Healthier than Sugar?

Although I recommend limiting sugars when you’re not active, sugar will fuel your working muscles and might help your workout performance if you’re exercising vigorously and/or for long periods. In fact, many of the harms attributed to sugar have to do with how it is metabolized when sedentary, or in sedentary individuals, not in athletes.

Here are five bars that rely on simple whole foods available in most grocery stores. They provide healthy fats, but are generally low in fat, because during exercise your muscles require carbohydrates as fuel.

A potential downside of homemade bars is the time required to make them.  But give it a try! Make a batch and freeze so you’ll have a convenient and portable snack on hand when you need it.

Ginger Bars with Chocolate

These spicy bars are amazingly delicious! The ginger delivers a good zing, and the molasses keeps them dense and fudgy. You can whip these up pretty quickly, which will make your entire house smell pretty wonderful.  These bars are great workout fuel, but certainly tasty enough for a lunchbox treat or as a sweet with coffee or tea.

You can substitute a different nut or seed butter for the peanut butter. I’ve tried tahini – sesame seed butter – and almond butter would work well.

Sheila’s Quick & Easy Oatmeal Bars

These bars feature oats, which are a staple of my diet.  For athletes, oats are a terrific and inexpensive source of carbohydrates to help fuel muscles.  Also,  according to this study, oats might help enhance nitric oxide production, which is important for heart health and might benefit athletic performance.  This recipe is quite versatile, so create your own variation by modifying the dried fruit and nuts/seeds to suit your taste. These bars feature whole grains (oats and 100% whole wheat flour), are relatively low in fat, with most of the fat coming from healthful sources (nuts and seeds) that provide other important nutrients.

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bites

These bites are simple to make, using only five ingredients. Their bite-size portion is often “just right,” so you can doll out energy as you need fuel during long hikes, runs, cross-country skis, or bike rides.

The oats and raisins are a good source of carbohydrates, the peanut butter provides healthy fats, rounded off with a double-chocolate hit of cocoa and chocolate chips.

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

These bars are dense and chewy and taste like brownies.  They are a bit of a departure from energy bars that are full of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and other wholesome ingredients —  which is the kind of bar I typically prefer on slower-paced  workouts, where the low intensity makes it easy to digest the seeds, nuts, fats, and fiber in the bars.  I like these bars for more intense workouts or intervals – when you need a burst of sweetness that goes down easily (kind of like an energy gel that actually tastes good).

For eating outside of workouts, this bar recipe is likely healthier than most cookies or bars.   Whole grains (whole wheat flour and oats) replace the more typical refined white flour (and you probably don’t need to worry about the gluten in the flour). I also used this baking strategy, substituting almond butter for most of the butter. Almond butter provides heart-healthy fats instead of saturated fat, as well as protein, fiber, and minerals that many people lack. Peanut butter works in these bars too (and is much less expensive!).

Sesame Date Energy Bites

These bites have a double sesame punch with sesame seeds and tahini (sesame butter): these little seeds are very nutritious and most often used as a garnish, so here’s a good way to take advantage of their superior nutrition.

I know, a refined cereal like Rice Krispies seems out of place with the rest of the wholesome ingredients, but the added crunch is worth it.  And if you’re going to eat refined carbs and sweet dates, during activity is the best time to do it:  your body processes the sugars to use as fuel and help sustain long workouts.

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Chocolate Pecan Tart

I love pecans and chocolate. They are wonderful on their own, and pair together beautifully. In this light dessert they add intense and decadent flavours without overwhelming.  If you’ve ever indulged in too much pecan pie (or pecan-chocolate pie) and felt full for hours later (yes I’m speaking from experience!), you’ll welcome this healthier dessert.

This pecan crust is easy to make and more flavourful than traditional pie crusts, and the ingredients provide important nutrients: pecans lend a buttery taster with healthy unsaturated fats,  and the oats provide a nice texture while providing cholesterol-lowering fiber.  In contrast,  traditional pie crusts contain unhealthy fats, refined flour, and offer few important nutrients. . . not to mention that they can be tricky to prepare!

Pecan Crust

The filling in this pie is protein-rich Greek yogurt, that you can sweeten a little or a lot depending on your preferences. I thicken it up with gelatin, which may have the added bonus for some with nagging tendon injuries, as preliminary research suggests gelatin may help tendon repair by promoting collagen production.


Pecan Crust
  • 1 1/3 cup oats
  • 1 cup pecans halves
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
Yogurt Filling
  • 1 carton (500 g/about 2 cups) Greek Yogurt (I used nonfat vanilla)
  • 3 tbsp. cold water
  • 1 package unflavored gelatin (2.5 tsp.)
Chocolate-Pecan Topping
  • About 1/2 cup pecan halves (for garnish)
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
  • 2 tbsp. milk


Pecan Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Place the oats, pecans, sugar, and salt, in food processor and process. Add the egg and process until well mixed.
  2. Press mixture into a 9- or 10-inch tart dish lightly greased with butter (consider lining bottom with circle of parchment paper – sometimes the crust sticks without it). Use your fingers to spread the dough and press it evenly all over the inside of the tart pan (it helps if you wet your fingers with water).  Poke the crust in a few places with a fork.
  3. Bake for 10-15 minutes (until lightly browned) and cool on a wire rack.
Yogurt Filling and Chocolate-Pecan Topping
  1. Put cold water in a 2-cup microwavable measuring cup or medium-sized glass bowl. Sprinkle with gelatin; stir and let stand for 2 minutes (gelatin will expand and solidify).
  2. Microwave on High for 30 seconds (gelatin will become liquid).
  3. Add gelatin mixture to yogurt, stir or whisk well, pour into baked crust.
  4. Combine chocolate and milk in microwave safe bowl or cup. Microwave until chocolate is barely melted – about 15-25 seconds.  Remove from microwave and stir vigorously. With a spoon “paint” the top of your yogurt filling with chocolate (if chocolate mixture is too thick add a little milk (just a few drops – a little goes a long way). Garnish with pecans and put tart in refrigerator for 1-2 hours to set.
READ  Healthy Baking Tip: Use Nut & Seed Butters Instead of Oils

Preparation Tips & Variations

  • Don’t have a tart pan? Neither did I (until recently – I”m pretty happy with the purchase, and delighted with the fluted edges and removable bottom!)  You can also make this in a glass pie plate.
  • Use another nut instead of pecans.  I’ve tried walnuts and results were great. I imagine cashews would work as well.
  • If you want something more decadent, use a higher fat yogurt and add a little maple syrup or other sweetener to it before adding the gelatin (this will be higher in calories and fat, but will still be much healthier than most tarts and pies).
  • Have an abundance of fresh fruit? Turn this into a fabulous fruit tart – you’ll find the recipe here.

Nutrition Notes

  • Pecans IsolatedPECANS are rich in healthy unsaturated fats associated with favorable lipid profiles.  Like most nuts they also contain important vitamins (notably vitamin E) and minerals, as well as fiber.  And these nutrients may benefit health, as eating nuts can lower cardiovascular disease risk, according to a recent meta-analysis.   In this analysis, researchers looked at 61 studies that examined the effect of tree nuts on blood lipids (tree nuts include walnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, and Brazil nuts).  They found that tree nut consumption was linked to blood markers associated with lower heart disease risk (lower total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and ApoB). The greatest effect was linked with consuming 60 grams of nuts or more daily (60 g nuts is equivalent to about 40 pecan halves).
  • GREEK YOGURT is exceptionally rich in protein and a good source of calcium.  High yogurt Oats (with Path)consumption (> 7 servings/week) is linked to lower weight (especially in people who eat more fruit), and lower risk of diabetes.
  • OATS are well-know for their cholesterol lowering properties, and recent research shows that they contain antioxidant compounds called avenanthramides that help decrease chronic inflammation that can lead to disease.
  • DARK CHOCOLATE is rich in flavanols that have potential disease-fighting properties.

Nutrition Per Serving

1 serving = 1/8 tart

  • 330 calories
  • 10 g protein
  • 31 g carbohydrate
  • 20 g fat
  • 26 mg cholesterol
  • 3 g fiber
  • 72 mg sodium
  • 150 mg potassium

muesli oatsMore recipes with OATS

More recipes with CHOCOLATE

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Cool Soups for Hot Weather

supersoupstightSoups are typically a cold-weather food since they can deliciously warm the chill of cool days.  Because they are a simple way to consume a generous amount of health-promoting vegetables, soups can be extremely nutritious.  And research shows that soup has potential health benefits.

Do we need to save all that goodness for cold weather?

Enter chilled soups. In summer we are inundated with a bounty of seasonal produce, but soups aren’t a common menu item.  Yet chilled soups are perfect for summer dining. They capture fresh and colorful produce at its peak, and provide a refreshing start to any meal on a hot summer day. These soups pair well with light meals featuring salads and sandwiches, but are also a nice contrast to heartier fare.

Most popular chilled soups are vegetable-based and served as a starter to a meal. Soups range from creamy smooth vegetable purees to chunky style soups brimming with crisp vegetables. Ingredients are often simple and highlight seasonal vegetables. Although fruit-based chilled soups are commonly enjoyed in Northern and Central Europe, at this point most North Americans don’t seem as keen on filling their soup bowls with something cold and sweet! (I’m with the majority – fruit soups aren’t my thing).

Soups are ideal for a healthful eating pattern because they blend a variety of protective foods in one bowl.  Adding chilled soups to your spring and summer menus will allow you to enjoy delicious combinations of nutritious foods year round! Consider packing a refreshing chilled soup in a thermos for your lunch or for a picnic.

Great Gazpacho

gazpacho no backgroundMy favourite chilled soup is tomato-based gazpacho, a cold soup that originated in Spain. Its name means “soaked bread” referring to the original recipe that included bread crumbs. Although the most common versions today are rich with tomatoes and summer vegetables, you’ll find countless variations of this soup.

A recent study found that gazpacho consumption was associated with lower blood pressure and reduced hypertension in people at high risk for heart disease. Researchers speculate that these health benefits were “probably due to synergy among several bioactive compounds present in the vegetable ingredients used to make the recipe.”

Earlier research found that study volunteers who ate gazpacho twice a day for 7 days had decreased markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in their blood.

Cool Tips for Chilled Soups

  • Make ahead to allow enough time for chilling and to give
    the flavors time to meld
  • Use quality ingredients, especially in simple soups
    that focus on one or two vegetables
  • Add lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, or sherry vinegar
    to liven up the flavor of some soups
  • Swirl in a dollop of yogurt or low-fat sour cream
    to add richness
  • Garnish with colorful diced vegetables or fresh herbs
  • Serve with a vegetable juice ice cube
  • Use vegetable or chicken stock to lend body to savory soups

Chilled Soup Ideas & Recipes

Some soups that are usually served hot are delicious cold as well. Good ones to try are smooth purees featuring carrot, sweet potato, or squash. Green pea soups and corn chowders can also be delicious cold. Because cooler temperatures can dull some flavors, chilled soups might require more garlic or other seasonings than their hot counterparts. For some soups, you can use lemon juice or vinegar to accent the flavors.

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Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bites

If you are looking for a nutritious “whole food” way to fuel your workouts, these little bites are for you! They are simple to make, delicious, and a terrific alternative to commercial energy bars. Their bite-size portion is often “just right,” so you can doll out energy as you need fuel during long hikes, runs, cross-county skis, or bike rides. The oats and raisins are a good source of carbohydrates, the peanuts provide healthy fats, rounded off with a double-chocolate hit of cocoa and chocolate chips.

Interested in sports nutrition and the best way to fuel your workouts? Read more about energy bars and real food alternative to energy bars here, and nutrition strategies for optimal performance here.


  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1-1/2 cup rolled oats (quick, regular, or large – you’re going to grind them up anyways!)
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 2-3 tbsp. water (if needed)
Ingredients (640x396)
“All-star” nutritious ingredients – see Nutrition Notes below


  1. Place raisins and oats in food processor. Process for about 30 seconds.
  2. Put peanut butter and chocolate chips in a small measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds.
  3. Add peanut butter mixture and cocoa to oats and raisins in food processor and pulse until well incorporated. If the mixture looks a bit dry, add a little water and process again (1-2 tablespoons).
  4. Scoop the mixture out of food processor with a wet tablespoon to roll into balls in the palm of your hand (you should get about 16, but vary the size to suit your needs).  You might find this easier if you wet your hands to roll the balls.
  5. Store in the fridge until hardened, about an hour. You can keep these in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.

energy bites row NEW

 Nutrition Notes

  • raisins_kealeyRaisins are a nutrient-rich and concentrated source of carbohydrates and minerals, and like grapes contain the phytochemical compound resveratrol, an antioxidant studied for its anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and cholesterol lowering effects.  For endurance athletes, raisins can fuel exercise, and research shows they perform as well as sports jelly beans, sports chews, or sports gels.Oats (with Path)
  • Oats are well-know for their cholesterol lowering properties, and recent research shows that they contain antioxidant compounds called avenanthramides that help decrease chronic inflammation that can lead to disease.
  • peanutsPeanuts have similar health benefits to other nuts, but are much more economical. They are a decent source of protein (about 7 g per 2 tbsp peanut butter), and are also a good source of the antioxidant resveratrol. Although some people consider nuts fattening, added to a healthy diet they do not promote weight gain, and have many health benefits, including reducing heart disease risk.  Peanuts and peanut butter might also help control blood sugar and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to this study in women. And another study suggested that replacing a serving of red meat with a serving of nuts would decrease type 2 diabetes risk by 21%.
  • cocoa powder (514x510) (2)Cocoa contains compounds called flavanols that have been found to  lower blood pressure and improve endothelial function, neutralize inflammation, increase healthy HDL’s, dilate blood vessels, help prevent atherosclerosis, and increase nitric oxide production (which has heart and potential endurance exercise benefits). You can find out more about cocoa and flavanols here.

Nutrition Per Serving

One serving=one energy bite

  • 105 calories
  • 3 g protein
  • 17 g carbohydrate
  • 4 g fat
  • 0 mg cholesterol
  • 2.5 g fiber
  • 5 mg sodium
  • 180 mg potassium
  • 11 mg calcium
  • 31 mg magnesium
  • 1 mg iron

More Foods to Fuel Your Workouts

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Sheila’s Quick & Easy Oatmeal Bars


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