There’s one thing you need to know about runners if you do not already, and that is that we like to eat and we tend to eat a lot. Since runners burn a lot of calories they can afford to eat a lot- they need to eat a lot. Runners and everyone for that matter, should eat quality, nutritious, and mostly unprocessed foods to fuel their workouts. A lot of us live an “on the go” lifestyle that can make this tricky. When we are hungry, on the go, and are in one of those “ we need a snack and we need it RIGHT NOW” moods a store bought energy or protein bar is a top choice. This is because they are readily available, easy to eat, and we usually think of them as healthy because they are marketed that way. Now I am not saying that all store bought energy bars are unhealthy, but a lot of them have long ingredient lists and several unrecognizable ingredients. Long ingredient lists imply that the food item is highly processed. Case in point, here are two bars I found around my house today and their respective ingredient lists:
I don’t know about you, but I am not even sure what sodium hexametaphosphate or natural flavor even are! And the vegetable oil in the bar pictured on the left (Quaker protein baked bars) has hydrogenated soybean and/or sunflower seed oil which is a source of trans fat- YUCK! Of the two bars pictured, the one on the right (a Clif Bar) would be the healthier choice because it does not have hydrogenated vegetable oil. Both bars have that mystery natural flavors ingredient though…
While I myself have eaten store bought energy bars on many occasions, the healthiest (and hopefully tastiest) option is to make your own! In the long run making your own can also save money because energy bars tend to be expensive. I figured now was a good time to experiment in the kitchen because right now it is summer, so I have time, and I am sidelined with a case of IT Band tendonitis and am unable to run for a bit (more on this later probably) . Eating healthy while injured is just as important, if not more so, than when running high mileage. So, I am here today to share a healthy energy bar recipe I made that was inspired and adapted from the coconut-almond energy bars recipe in the Runner’s World cookbook (pg. 44). It is made of ingredients that I recognize and are usually on hand at my house. As an added bonus they are still easily portable just like store bought ones!
Peanut butter, fruit, and oat energy bars
1.5 cups old fashioned oats, 1/4 cup cashews, 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup raisins, 1/4 cup craisins, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, a 12 ounce bottle of honey, and 1 cup of natural peanut butter ( I used Smucker’s creamy).
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8x 8 glass baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl combine the old fashioned oats, cashews, sunflower seeds, raisins, craisins, and vanilla extract and set aside. In a smaller bowl, combine the bottle of honey and cup of natural peanut butter and microwave for one minute on high power. Mix the honey and natural peanut butter together until combined and then add to oat mixture in the larger bowl. Mix together and once mixed pour into the 8 x 8 glass baking dish. Bake for 20 min or until the bars start to turn golden, but still have somewhat soft centers (may take longer or shorter depending on your oven). Let cool before cutting. I made 16 bars. Put cooled bars in a Tupperware or other covered container. If you used natural peanut butter store them in the refrigerator.
Keep in mind you can use any nut butter, dried fruit, seeds, or nuts that you would like. Making homemade energy bars proved to be easy and fun so I will definitely be making these again!