Make Your Own Healthy Energy Bars!

CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal) – Energy bars are packed with healthy carbs and can be a ideal snack before a workout, but they can also be costly and loaded with sugar! Dr. Laura Christoph, Professor of Nutrition, showed us how to make three healthy energy bars that will save you money and give you the energy you need!

Rules of thumb for endurance workouts

Pre workout:

Eat a balanced meal of carbs, protein and fat that settles well about 1-2 hours before exercise. Drink 2 cups of water within that period as well.

During the workout:
If your workout is under an hour, just water is fine. If your workout is over an hour, you may want to add in a carbohydrate containing electrolyte beverage such as coconut water or Gatorade.

Post workout:

If you can eat a meal within an hour post workout, this is your best option! Go for a healthy portion of carbohydrate and some lean protein and nutrient dense veggies. If you tend to lose your appetite for a while post workout, try a 3 or 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein in an easily digested bar or drink. Chocolate milk will do the trick, or there are plenty of “recovery drinks” marketed to athletes as well.

Rules of thumb for strength workouts

I surveyed a variety of athletes in Western Mass, asking about their favorite store bought and homemade energy bars, and these topped the list!

Lara Bars: ingredients you can understand, full of real food!
Rx bars and Think Thin Bars: High in protein and low in sugar. Best for strength athletes or those looking to add extra protein in the diet
Epic Bars and Tanka bars/bites: For a low carb lifestyle-these actually are full of meat (sort of like beef jerky), and are minimally processed
Clif Bars: These are a favorite among endurance athletes and are full of nutritious oats, nuts and fruit.
Powerbars: Although they have a few more ingredients than I would like to see, these seem to settle well with endurance athletes when eaten pre workout
PR’s and Paleo: A small local company that makes grain free snacks and energy bars from scratch.

Peanut Butter Energy Balls

Ingredients:
1 c. peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
1/2 c. dry powdered milk
1/4 c. honey

Directions:
Put all of these ingredients in a bowl. Mix well with a spoon. With clean hands make the dough into little balls, about the size of cotton balls. Roll them until smooth. You can eat them just like that or you can roll the balls in coconut, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, etc. You can also add raisins to the dough.

Almond Chocolate Fudge Energy Bars

Ingredients:
1 cup oat flour (or regular oats ground up in a blender)
1/2 cup quick oats
1/3 cup vanilla protein powder (I used whey)
1/2 cup crispy rice cereal
1/2 cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Optional: 2-3 Tbsp. chocolate chips for melting

Directions:
Prepare a 9×5 loaf pan by spraying it with cooking spray. Set aside.
If making your own oat flour, place rolled oats into a blender or food process and process until they turn into a fine powder.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine oat flour, quick oats, protein powder, and crispy rice cereal. Mix until well combined and set aside.
In a small pan over medium heat, add almond butter and honey, stirring until the almond butter is melted and fully combined with the honey. Stir in vanilla extract.
Remove from heat and pour into the dry mixture. Stir until everything is fully combined.
Pour into prepared loaf pan. Using a spatula or your hands, spread the mixture evenly in the pan, pressing down firmly.
Optional: place chocolate into a microwave safe bowl and nuke on high in 20 second intervals, mixing between each. When chocolate is fully melted, drizzle over the top of the packed mix using a spoon.
Place pan into fridge and allow to cool for ~30 minutes before cutting into bars.

Fig and Honey Rice Cakes

Ingredients:
2 cups uncooked calrose rice or
other medium-grain “sticky” rice
1½ cups water
1 cup toasted pecans
1 cup chopped dried figs
2 tablespoons honey
brown sugar (optional)

Directions:
Combine rice and water in a rice cooker.
To toast the nuts: Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Place the pecans on a baking sheet and toast 8-10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice,pecans, and figs. Add the honey and stir thoroughly.
Press mixture into an 8- or 9-inch square pan to about 1½-inch thickness and sprinkle with brown sugar, if desired.
Cut and wrap individual cakes. Makes about 10 rice cakes.

 

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