It all started with fitness bootcamp. One would think the biggest challenge to a 5:30 am bootcamp would be getting out of bed but I had that part down. I just made my body move before my brain could register a complaint. I was actually out of bed and out of the house in 15 minutes. Truth be told, I came to enjoy the workouts and the sense of having accomplished something so early in the morning.
In reality, the bigger challenge was getting over the 10am slump. By that time of the morning I was struggling not to put my head down and nap on my keyboard. A little research educated me that what I was eating (or not eating) was a big part of the problem. So I revamped my routine from having a smoothie before working out to having it when I got home and when my depleted muscles needed food for recovery.
I like working out in the morning. I find that when I work out, its best if I can do it in the morning. Some people can work out on an empty stomach. It might be mind over matter for me but I need a little something to boost me up before I workout. Nothing too heavy. So, if I was going to have to save my smoothie for post-workout I was going to have to be inventive on the pre-workout. Not wanting to get up any earlier than I had to, I needed something quick that I could eat in the car on the way.
That’s when I found mini Clif bars. They were so cute and only 100 calories. But they were $9 a box. Clif bars have a good reputation for what they put in their bars but I like to know where my food comes from. So, I trolled the internet for recipes. It turns out making energy bars is easy. Being lactose intolerance means any recipe with non-fat milk (liquid or powder, doesn’t matter) is off the list. Living in Arizona, any recipe that does not require turning on the oven is a big plus. Armed with an ingredient list I headed to my local Sprouts and within minutes had great, edible, mini energy bars with totally identifiable ingredients.
Kat’s favorite no bake energy bars:
1 1/4 cups puffed rice cereal
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking oats
2 tablespoons ground flax seed*
1/4 cup finely chopped dried fruit
1/4 cup finely chopped nuts or seeds
1/3 cup brown rice syrup, honey or molasses
1/2 cup nut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Combine the rice cereal, oats, ground flax seed, fruit and nuts/seeds in a large bowl. You can use any combination of fruits, nuts or seeds. I followed one of the author’s suggestion and used dried cranberries and salted pepitas with cashew butter. I also discovered through trial and error that I am not wild about molasses.
Spray an 8″ cooking pan with non-stick spray.
In a small non-stick saucepan on medium heat, combine the nut butter and syrup until its smooth and well blended. Add vanilla and blend together.
Add the nut butter/syrup mixture to the dry ingredients and stir well until everything is combined. The mixture should cool enough to be comfortable to handle. Using your hands, make sure all the ingredients are well combined and then press the mixture firmly into an 8-inch square cooking pan. Remember, you want the consistency of bars that will hold up when you cut them so you need to press everything down really well.
Set the pan aside to cool for about 30 minutes. Using a pizza cutter or nylon knife cut 12 bars. Place one layer of bars in a shallow tupperware container. Use wax paper as a divider before laying down the second layer. Store in the refrigerator or pantry.
The first time I made these I used whole flaxseed. I’ve since learned that for flax seed to be beneficial you really want to grind it. Now I run mine through a food mill immediately before adding it to a recipe. My “food mill” actually its a Krups electric coffee grinder that I’ve reserved for food. Plus, now I don’t have seeds stuck in my teeth.
Makes 12 bars
Nutritional information – values per serving are approximate:
Calories 196.7 Total Fat 8.8 g Cholesterol 0.3 mg Sodium 25.8 mg Potassium 123.5 mg Total Carbohydrate 27.7 g Protein 3.4 g