Vegan banana nut energy bars & Monday running motivation

Good morning everyone! Today I wanted to share a recipe for my favorite homemade energy bars, but first here’s a little Monday running motivation for all of you (myself included) who still need to get a run in today. 😉

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Now after that wonderful picture, back to the recipe. I make a batch of the vegan banana nut energy bars nearly once a week for my boyfriend and I. I’m not going to lie there’s rarely even a crumb left by the end of the week. I woke up and made a quick batch this morning because I wanted to make sure they were ready in time for my boyfriend to bring to his class later today as a snack. They are relatively cheap to make, tasty, vegan, full of pronounceable ingredients, filling, and semi-healthy (as long as you only eat one or two at a time 😉 ). I adapted the recipe from the banana oat energy bars in The Runner’s World Cookbook on page 47. Here’s a link to the original if you do not own that cookbook (http://www.runnersworld.com/recipes/make-your-own-energy-bars?page=single). Without further ado, here’s the recipe!

Vegan banana nut energy bars

yield: 16 bars

ingredients:

2 ripe bananas

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.5 cups of oats

3/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

3/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup cashews (or any nut/seed)

1/4 cup sunflower seeds (or any nut/seed)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8×8 inch glass baking dish.

2. Mash the banana in a mixing bowl. Then add the oil, sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix together.

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3. In another larger mixing bowl combine the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

4. Add the raisins, cashews, and sunflower seeds to the flour mixture.

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5. Add the banana/sugar/oil mixture to the flour/nut mixture and mix until combined.

6. Pour the mixture into the greased glass baking dish and spread until even.

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7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top starts to brown. Allow them to cool completely before cutting into bars.

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I hope all of you enjoy this recipe and have a great day today! As soon as I publish this post I’m going to do my IT band exercises and go for a short run, fingers crossed that my IT band stays pain free!

What are your favorite energy bars, homemade or store bought?

Tasty Tuesday #1- my favorite snacks

Good evening! I don’t know about you, but I just finished watching the USA vs. Belgium World Cup game. It was a slow moving game until it went into extra time where both teams were 0-0 initially.  Belgium scored twice during the extra time and USA scored once at minute 106. Belgium will advance to the quarter finals against Argentina. What a heartbreaker for the USA, but I am still proud of my country and they fought hard. I am happy I was able to watch the game live! I have a summer class once a week on Tuesdays and for the last few weeks I’ve had to commute from home to class for a total commute time of nearly 4 hours. I got out of class early today and my commute took less time than normal so I was able to catch the game! This is my last week of a long commute though, thankfully! I move to my apartment this weekend and I will be much closer to my class there.  🙂

My favorite snacks

I am a big fan of snacks. In fact, I LOVE to snack! I’m more of a grazer than a three meals a day kind of girl. I’d rather eat smaller meals/snacks more often during the day. The amount of meals/snacks I eat in a day really just depends on what workouts I am doing and how my body feels. For tasty Tuesday I thought it would be fitting to discuss something food related so, I thought I would share five of my favorite snacks right now.  I try to eat healthy most of the time and my snacks reflect this. I do think that moderation is key and a little dessert or processed food every once in a while shouldn’t hurt or jeopardize your health though. 😉

1. Smoothies. I absolutely love smoothies! I  typically make mine with fresh or frozen fruit, vanilla or plain Greek yogurt, and almond milk. I also like to freeze my smoothies and eat them with a spoon, kind of like ice cream. I’ve been eating frozen smoothies a lot lately. 🙂  I am going to eat this cherry smoothie later, once it is frozen:

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2. Hummus with pretzels and/or carrots. I also love hummus and I’ve been eating Sabra original and Tribe sweet red pepper or original lately. Both brands are delicious, but I really need to learn how to make my own hummus because it is probably a lot cheaper.

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3.Greek yogurt with a tablespoon of dark chocolate chips. When I’m craving something sweet this is my go to snack. It tastes especially good if you put the Greek yogurt and dark chocolate chips in the freezer for a bit. My favorites are Oikos vanilla or plain Greek yogurt and Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips.

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4. Homemade energy bars. My current favorite homemade energy bar is the banana oat energy bar from the Runner’s world cookbook.  I also really like homemade energy bars with peanut butter such as the ones I made and posted here on this blog last Saturday.

5. Popcorn. Most microwave and bagged popcorn are high in fat and full of unrecognizable ingredients which is unfortunate because popcorn is delicious and can be healthy. Thankfully, if you pop your own in an air popper you can turn it into a healthy snack. I typically eat air popped popcorn plain or with a little salt or cinnamon sugar. As far as microwave popcorn goes, Orville Redenbacher’s Simply Salted is the most “natural” I could find in terms of unrecognizable ingredients. I believe it just has popcorn, oil, and salt and I eat it sometimes instead of air popped. I also enjoy  an occasional bag of microwave kettle corn.

What are your favorite snacks right now? Also, any suggestions on toppings for air popped popcorn?

Homemade energy bars- made with recognizable ingredients!

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:

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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) Sad smile. 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).

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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.

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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!