Most of us lead busy lives and we end up eating packaged "convenience" foods more than we’d like. Energy bars may seem like a smart source of fuel when you're in a rush, but many of the store-bought options contain amounts of sugar that can make an otherwise balanced diet unbalanced.
Most of us lead busy lives and we end up eating packaged "convenience" foods more than we'd like. Energy bars may seem like a smart source of fuel when you're in a rush, but many of the store-bought options contain amounts of sugar that can make an otherwise balanced diet unbalanced. But if you make your own energy bars, you can get all of the macronutrients and a variety of vitamins and minerals without all of the added sugar and additives. Read on to learn how to make nutritious, delicious DIY energy bars.
1. The 4-Ingredient Energy Bar
If you're looking to whip up a no-sugar-added energy bar in just a few minutes that will take care of your breakfast, afternoon snack or dessert, all you need are bananas, oats, nuts and dates. Faith Durand, author of this recipe on The Kitchn, a web magazine devoted to home cooking and kitchen design, raves about the versatility of bananas in this recipe.
Recipe & Nutritional Info**:** The 4-Ingredient Energy Bar
2. The No-Grain Apricot Energy Bar
This Paleo-friendly energy bar doesn't contain any added sugar and is grain- and dairy-free. Many of the ingredients used in non-Paleo energy bars such as dried fruit and nuts are included in these too, but the Paleo versions have unique twists that make them fun to try and to taste. For instance, the Primal Palate, a site dedicated to recipes and menus that fit the Paleo lifestyle, makes a snack bar with eggs as a protein source and coconut oil for added fat.
Recipe & Nutritional Info**:** The No-Grain Apricot Energy Bar
3. The Sweet Bean Energy Bar
For a twist, Mother Nature Network's ChocoBean Power Bars uses cooked black beans to "add protein and fiber without overpowering the banana and chocolate flavors." The recipe is quick and easy to make, and there's no cooking involved if you use canned beans.
Recipe & Nutritional Info**:** The Sweet Bean Energy Bar
4. The Apricot, Pistachio and Oat Energy Bar
Maggie Moon, M.S., RD, author of "The Elimination Diet Workbook," created her own pistachio-apricot energy bar to meet her preference for "natural sweetness from sweet-tart fruit, buttery richness from a heart-healthy nut like pistachios and a mellow base note from whole grains." She uses pomegranate molasses for a bit of sweet stickiness, and the juice of an orange or some olive oil to keep the mixture from being too dry. Together, these ingredients make for a well-rounded nutrition bar providing carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Recipe & Nutritional Info**:** The Apricot, Pistachio and Oat Energy Bar
5. The Superfood Energy Bar
Superfood ingredients like hemp, chia and coconut are popular in energy bars, but they're often paired with added sugars such as agave, coconut sugar or honey. To avoid the excess sweetness without sacrificing the great health benefits of these foods, try making these Hemp Protein Bars recommended by Andrea Kapner, a certified health educator who teaches nutrition and cooking classes to children and adults in New York City. Kapner says, "These bars are incredibly easy to make once you have all the ingredients on hand. Chia seeds are small but pack in fiber, protein and omega-3s."
Recipe & Nutritional Info**:** The Superfood Energy Bar
Try making your own!
Making your own energy bars at home from nutritious whole ingredients is a great way to get "real" food throughout the day, without all the added sugar. Remember to include a variety of macro- and micronutrients: carbs from cereal grains and dried fruit, fat and protein from nuts, seeds, protein powders and nut butters. Many bars can be stored for one to two weeks in an airtight container.
What Do YOU Think?
Do you eat store-bought protein or energy bars? If so which flavors and brands are you a fan of? Have you ever made your own energy bars before? If so, what's your go-to recipe? Would you try one of these recipes? Which sounds the best to you? Leave a comment below and let us know!
Read more: The 7 BEST Protein Bars -- and 3 to Avoid!