Power Up!

Energy bars are snack bars containing grains and other high-energy foods for people who require quick energy but do not have time for a meal (sound like someone you know?). These bars provide a quick pickup as they usually contain nuts or seeds that are high in protein and healthy grains like oats or wheat germ. They are not necessarily low in calories but they are worthwhile calories!

The first energy bar in the American marketplace was created in the late 1960s to capitalize on the popularity of the space program. Space Food Sticks were developed by the same person who created a set of standards still in use by the food industry to ensure food safety.

Fifty years later you will find a huge selection of energy bars or power bars on grocery shelves, but making them at home is easy. Our recipes contain sugar or honey, which most nutritionists agree is fine in moderation. Feel free to substitute sweeteners of your choice.

Whole-Grain Raspberry Bars

2 cups whole-wheat flour

1/2 cup wheat germ

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 sticks margarine, softened, divided

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds

3/4 cup raspberry jam

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 9 x 13-inch pan with parchment paper, leaving extra paper hanging over the edges. Grease with baking spray.

Whisk the flour, wheat germ, granulated sugar and salt in a large bowl. Beat in 1 3/4 sticks of margarine with an electric mixer on low until the mixture looks like wet sand, about 1 1/2 minutes.

Reserve 1 1/4 cups of the mixture for the topping and put the rest into the pan.

Use the bottom of a measuring cup to press it into an even layer. Bake the crust until the edges begin to brown, about 14–18 minutes.

Mix the reserved flour mixture with the oats, nuts, brown sugar and flax seeds. Add the remaining margarine and pinch the mixture with your fingers into small clumps.

In a separate bowl, mix the jam and lemon juice together.

Spread the berry mixture over the hot crust and sprinkle the crumb streusel on top. Bake until golden brown, about 22–25 minutes.

Let the bars cool completely in the pan. Remove bars from pan by lifting up the parchment edges. Cut into 24 squares. Store airtight.

Toasted Seed Energy Bars

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1 tablespoon flaxseeds

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 cup unsweetened
whole-grain puffed cereal

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

1/3 cup craisins

1/4 cup creamy almond butter or peanut butter

1/2 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch-square pan.

Spread oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds and sesame seeds on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the oats are lightly toasted and the nuts are fragrant, shaking the pan halfway through, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add cereal, apricots and craisins; toss to combine.

Combine almond or peanut butter, honey and vanilla in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture bubbles lightly.

Immediately pour the almond butter mixture over the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon or spatula until no dry spots remain. Transfer to the prepared pan. Using a silicone spatula, press the mixture down firmly to make an even layer. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes; cut into 8 bars.