With spring around the corner comes the promise of clean roads and trails for cyclists, runners, hikers and all outdoor enthusiasts that have been patiently waiting for a whiff of fresh spring air. Personally, I’ve been waiting for beautiful roads with no snow in sight. I can’t wait for the breeze to go through the slats on my bicycle helmet on a long climb, to reach behind myself into my jersey’s pockets to grab a quick snack to propel myself up and over my immediate nemesis.
But what snack will it be? Could it be a candy bar of the Snickers variety, maybe a gel pack, or a high performance energy bar?
Nope, this week Dartmouth College researchers are reporting worrisome levels of arsenic in energy bars and energy shots that contain organic brown rice syrup, a replacement for the common high-fructose corn syrup.
So, of course, I’m going to recommend that you make your own snack. Not only because of the arsenic, but also because you can customize your bar to your favorite foods. I hate most nuts but I love hazelnuts. It’s really hard to find an energy bar that has hazelnuts because they’re generally more expensive than a bar with peanuts.
The foundation of any good homemade energy bar starts with a few ingredients: namely, oats, nuts, fruit and puffed rice. These with binders, such as honey and peanut butter, form the basic recipe. If you like shredded coconut, chocolate chips, dried fruit or spices, you can just pile it in to your personalized granola concoction.
However, it’s important to note that these are chock full of calories. Unless you’re striving to gain a few pounds, munch at your own risk, preferably on the saddle of your favorite cruiser with the wind in your hair.
So when spring finally comes, be prepared with your favorite bar blend and revel in your awesome cooking and money-saving prowess.
1 ¼ c. Rice Krispies, generic or name brand, white or brown rice
1 c. Rolled Oats or Instant Oats
2 Tbsp. Flaxseed Meal
¼ c. Crushed Nuts (Optional)
¼ c. Dried Fruit (Optional)
1/3 c. Honey (Plus extra if the mixture is dry)
½ c. Nut Butter (Peanut butter, almond butter, even Nutella would work)
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
½ Tbsp. salt
6 oz. dark chocolate & 1 Tbsp. of heavy cream (very optional, only if you want a chocolate topping)
Add anything you want! Shredded coconut, chocolate chips, chopped up chunks of a candy bar, cinnamon, nutmeg or even potato chips if you want
In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients till thoroughly mixed.
Put honey and nut butter in a small saucepan over medium-low, stirring until the two are melted and combined. Add the vanilla extract and stir until the extract is combined, then take the mixture off heat.
Pour the honey mixture over the dried ingredients in the bowl and mix until thoroughly incorporated. This step is easiest by using your hands, optionally with plastic gloves. Make sure that the honey mixture isn’t too hot or else you will burn yourself. When everything is combined and still too crumbly, heat up 1/3 cup of honey in the saucepan with a tablespoon of water and stir until it becomes syrupy. Add the honey to the mixture and combine.
At this step you can either press the mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper to cool and later cut into the desired shape or you can form the shape with your hands from the bowl.
If you choose to add the chocolate topping, you’ll need to start a double boiler with a suitable bowl over a pan of boiling water. Add the chocolate and heavy cream and whisk until the chocolate melts and you’re left with chocolate syrup. You can dip your bars into the syrup after they’re cut or you can drizzle the chocolate syrup on top of the uncut bars.
Wait for a few hours for the bars to cool and harden. After this you can package them in plastic wrap or put them in zipped bags.