Thursday, February 16, 2012

Homemade Energy Bars & Healthy Snacks

Wholesome fresh baked Oatmeal - Walnut Bread is high in protein, fiber and natural flavor!  No additives or preservatives.

As the weather warms, you're going to see more days that you'd like to be active and outside. Unfortunately the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak!  Every spring after a winter of being inside and putting on a few pounds, energy is something we all struggle with.

There are too many diets and some people are going vegan or low carb / high carb or even no carb! Many times we get so frustrated that we don't really know what to eat. Well, one of the perks of being athletic and active is having a higher resting metabolism that burns more fat than it stores. This can even last up to 48 hours after vigorous exercise!  In fact complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables are an important energy sources your body can readily draw from.  They shouldn't be left out of any diet.
Your energy snack choices should be healthy, rich in protein and nutrient dense not to mention delicious.  If not, it is quite unlikely you'll reach for it too often.  Here are a few ideas on how to combine good taste with superior nutrition for an energy blast that lasts all day:

Bake Your Own Bread
Basic Sandwich Loaf from a bread machine

Bread machines these days are quite reasonable and you can get one like the Breadman Ultimate here for well under $100.  Many of us have a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer.  They come with a dough hook that does all of the tough kneading for you.  I've used both methods successfully and you can make all sorts of nutritious loaves that taste better and are better for you than those "healthy" breads you buy at the market.  All you need is a sack of bread flour and some dry yeast to go to town.

I make a basic sandwich loaf for the week such as what you see here.  The cool thing about making your own bread is that you can add all sorts of extra nutritional goodies to the dough.  My basic sandwich loaf is made with honey, oats and almond meal for extra protein.  Fresh baked bread smells and tastes incredible!  These loaves are moist and light for extra thin slicing, (do invest in a bread knife) and can be used for toast and breadcrumbs.  Spread a bit of Sunbutter or almond butter on a slice and you have a high powered nutritious boost for the road.

Homemade Energy Bars with Cheerios, Oats & Raisins
DIY Energy Bars
These are SO easy to make you'll kick yourself for wasting money on commercial, processed energy bars all these years.  If you've ever made Rice Krispies Treats, it is pretty much the same process.  If you have a peanut allergy or plan to share these with someone who does substitute Sunbutter, sunflower seed butter for peanut butter in the recipe.  Depending on the amount of dry ingredients you have, make these:

Homemade Energy Bars

Warm 1/2 cup each of peanut butter, or sunflower seed butter (Sunbutter) & 1/2 cup coconut oil in a sauce pot. 

When liquefied add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Pour in your dry ingredients which can include 1/2 cup each uncooked oats, puffed rice, raisins, dried apples, cranberries, walnuts and sunflower seeds. 

Fold in with a spatula to coat.

Press into a buttered 9 x 9 pan as shown in the picture and let cool uncovered for about 20 minutes before covering with plastic wrap and storing in the refrigerator.  Once the block is set, use a sharp knife, cut into bars and wrap each individually in Saran Wrap.

The coconut oil is great for blasting belly fat according to several researchers and will help keep the bars fresh even if stored at room temperature.  Pop one in your jogging jacket or bike panniers and you're set!

Protein Shakes
These rice based protein shakes from Rainbow Light are very easy to digest without the bloating or issues of soy.
You can even take the shake with you on the road by using a stainless steel Polar Bottle adding ice, milk and ice water to 1 scoop of Protein Energizer.  Shake it up and drink it on the fly!  This is a life saver for me when I don't have time to get a full on breakfast.  Use a blender to add fruit and take it along!

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