Energy bars used to be an intangible sort of recipe so intimidating I simply opted for store-bought. Every prior attempt to make them either ended in a crumbly mess, stuck to the pan, or had hints of cardboard flavor. Recipes always seemed to have a large list of ingredients I probably couldn't find or would be a small investment in Whole Foods. These fearful thoughts have been lingering in the shadows of my mind for years....until now.
The 'energy bar' has finally been demystified. It's really not all that scary. It reminds me of the rafting trip the girls and I took last summer. I spent many sleepless nights sweating out my anxiety over the three hour rafting trip. What if the raft tipped over; what if I got caught in a rapid, what if my paddle flew over the edge. But in the reasonable part of the day, usually after a cup of coffee, I reminded myself people go on rafting trips every day...this was no big deal. And it really wasn't. I did get nervous during the initial training of what to do if you get caught under an over-turned boat. But I swallowed my fear, put on my fancy sunglasses, and pretended not to be scared. As we launched into the water I succumbed to the idea there was no turning back...it was us and the rapids.
It started out as a smooth and calm float down the river. We all chatted and sunbathed. Then the water started moving a little quicker; the instructor started getting firmer in her tone. Then suddenly we were in the thick of the rapids. We did whatever she told us to do to keep the boat afloat. Then there would be calm and we high-fived each other. This cycle continued for an hour or so, boosting our confidence after every rapid. Then the clouds darkened and we got to very calm water where we could jump in and swim. We played boat games of one side paddling so we could do river 'donuts'. Then the clouds started getting ominously dark, followed by the crack of thunder, cold rain, hail, and lightening. Back to survival mode again. At this point, we just wanted to get back to base camp. We paddled our frozen arms as fast as possible to warmth. We docked, quickly carried boat and paddles to camp, peeled off our soaked wet suits, and warmed ourselves with cups of hot chocolate.
Energy bar recipe fear may be a drastic comparison to rafting trip fear. But it only takes pulling out the mixing bowl to start. May this carry over into other areas of my life...like making pork chops or mastering crow pose ;/
Homemade Energy Bars
Makes about 48 small squares
Adapted from Allrecipes Magazine First Edition
Energy bars are one of the most forgiving recipes. The original recipe called for a lot more dried fruit and nuts, used only peanut butter versus the coconut butter-peanut butter-tahini mixture, and called for puffed rice instead of puffed millet. I didn't want to go to the grocery for all those ingredients, so I ad-libbed with what was in my cupboard. Bump up the protein content by adding protein powder or more nuts.
1/2 cup dates
1/2 cup multi-colored raisins
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup trail mix (seeds, nuts, dried cranberries)
4 cups puffed millet
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup palm sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 pinch salt
Combine dates, raisins, chocolate chips, sesame seeds, and trail mix in the bowl of a food processor; pulse until evenly chopped. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; stir in millet and oats.
Mix coconut oil, palm sugar, peanut butter, tahini, and honey together in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high until mixture is bubbling, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts. Pour peanut butter mixture over millet mixture; stirring or using your hands until evenly coated.
Line a 9x13-inch baking dish with enough plastic wrap to go over edges as pictured above. This will help with easier removal. Pour millet mixture into the prepared dish. Firmly press mixture into dish using the back of a spatula. Wrap the plastic wrap over the top of bars and press down. Refrigerate until solid, at least 2 hours. Cut into small squares using a bench scraper/chopper. Store in refrigerator to keep solid.