Monday, September 21, 2009

“that guy who makes energy bars.” [dan’s guest post]

My name is Dan, or according to Em, “that guy who makes energy bars.” I am an avid cyclist and an athlete and also a dietetic intern at St. Louis University (SLU).

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I have been cooking professionally for almost seven years now (really?? wow…I can’t believe it either). I got into cooking way before I ever had any formal culinary training, and before my first bus-boy job at 15 years old.

The first thing I ever made was a scrambled egg. I was so proud to cook with my Dad, who had a Saturday morning ritual of making the largest, dirtiest breakfast for my siblings and I. Later, I discovered that not only was my Dad a loving man for getting up with the sun to make us breakfast, but he also had an alternate agenda…to give us energy. After we ate mounds of scrambled eggs, buttery biscuits, crispy bacon strips, and glasses of OJ, he would hike us outside to perform several hours of chores a.k.a. manual labor. In a sense, my motive to make energy bars is very similar to my Dad’s.

Cycling requires continual fueling of its favorite energy source, carbohydrates. After spending bank vaults of cash and weeding through the sweet, salty, soft, and hard, and still feeling unsatisfied, I decided to make my own bars. I asked myself what I wanted in an energy bar, and formulated this equation in my head:

Clif Bar (minus) the overwhelming sweetness (plus) better texture = My bar (ideas for names???)

**If I don’t eat my bar, I eat Clif bars**

It’s been a little over a year since I made my first energy bar, and they’ve come a long way. My notebook is full of recipes, notes, and drawings of what has worked and what hasn’t.

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I love making energy bars because they are easy to grab on the go, pack a nutritious punch suitable for all types of activities, and they taste good. I also like playing scientist and developing recipes using my food science background. I’m going to share a new recipe I’ve been working on, Pumpkin Spice Bar, just in time for the autumn season.

Before we get started I should make a few quick notes:

· Energy bars are cheaper to make yourself, but they have a high start-up cost. Fortunately, most of the ingredients will last you for 2-3 batches.

· This is my baby. So, if you decide to sell the recipe and get rich, make sure I get a cut.

· Energy bars are fun; don’t be afraid to screw up. At the very least you’ll end up with some BOMB granola, right Em?

PUMPKIN SPICE BAR

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Ingredients:**

7/8 cup brown rice syrup

¼ cup almond butter

¼ cup pumpkin puree

1.5 Tbsp H20

½ cup dates, pitted and diced

½ cup Red Flame Raisins

¼ cup pumpkin seeds

¼ cup walnuts, finely chopped

3 cups Kashi Warm Cinnamon Cereal

½ cup whole wheat flour

¾ cup wheat germ

2 scoops Whey Protein Isolate (scoop is in container)

½ tsp fine granule sea salt

2 Tbsp pumpkin spice***

**You can find all of these ingredients at the Whole Foods

***2.5 tsp cinnamon, 1.5 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp allspice, 1 tsp nutmeg

Method: Combine all the dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well mixed.

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Then add all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl.

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With clean hands, reach in and mix ingredients together until well incorporated. Clean your hands off, and get ready to portion the bars.

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**Fill a bowl with cold water. Dip your fingers in the water and rub them together so they are moist. This will help prevent sticky fingers (Sticky rice method)**

Grab ~½ a handful of the mixture and roll into a ball. Then place it on a baking tray lined with a Silicone baking sheet or spray the pan with pan spray. Repeat the ball step until all the mix is portioned (~15 balls). If you have an ice cream scoop, it may also work.

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Pick and pull bar mixture from the balls to make them as close in size as possible. Then flatten them out into bar shape (approximately 3”x2”x 1/2”)

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Bake them at 300 degrees for 14 minutes. They are not like most baked items, so pull them right at 14 minutes.

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Remove the bars from the oven, and let them cool completely. With a nice flat spatula, transfer the bars from the pan to a cooling rack.

Wrap the bars or put them into sandwich bags. They last for up to three weeks or a month (not a promise), but once I left one in my messenger bag for a month and a half during the summer, and it was still good.

Thanks for letting me post on the Health Nut; I hope you enjoyed it. Try the bars, and let Em and I know how they turn out.

Remember, bars are fun. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

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Hey friends, Emily here. If you enjoyed this post or have any questions on the methods to his madness, please leave Dan some comment love. I’m sure he’ll be back for some future posts, so stay tuned! [emc]

28 comments:

  1. Thanks to Emily/Dan for this post! I like making my own granola, so I bet I'd like making my own energy bars, too. These sound better than the store-bought ones anyway.

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  2. Love the guest post!! Those energy bars sound really good - perfect for the fall. I love how technical that notebook looks :)

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  3. Such a cool guest post! thanks for the host and the guest! :)

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  4. wow, thanks so much for sharing your recipe, dan! these look delicious.

    p.s. you could probably sell these at a local farmer's market if you wanted to! (i would buy them if they were at my farmer's market!)

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  5. Hi Dan!! My fiance and I just got started in cycling (he's a little more hard core than me & planning on the viva bike vegas century in Oct), and we love it!! I also have a passion for everything culinary and am an RD. I'd really love to go to culinary school in the future and am getting my MS in ex phys right now. These bars sound AMAZING!! I just got some dates from the farmer's market and have been wanting to use them in something other than popping them in my mouth like candy. What are red flame dates? Thanks for the recipe and I look forward to making them asap :) Happy cycling

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  6. A guy looking to become an RD?? We only had one in my entire four years of undergrad...awesome! I love the notebook...you can definitely tell much work as gone into the bars! Thanks for the guest post, I'll have to try my own soon!

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  7. Wow, those look JUST LIKE Cliff bars!! I am so impressed. I really love experimenting in the kitchen, and Dan, you are so right about making mistakes and still having something good in the end! I made granola for the first time and it did not turn out (as far as texture) at all! But, I was still left with a yummy treat!

    I am super impressed that there is NO sugar, brown sugar, or honey in your recipe. I can't wait to give them a try :)

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  8. Definitely trying to make these - thanks for the great post!!

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  9. Wow great post! I think you should call them Dan Good Bars. I'm seriously impressed by this!

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  10. This seems so yummy! I totally agree with making mistakes in the kitchen or for that matter..anywhere..you learn a lot from them..

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  11. Dan, nice to meet you. Good luck in the internship. It is hard work, but so worth it. I am a RD from Vegas who has precepted interns in the past. My idea for a name for your bars would be Dantastic (Energy Bars). Anyway, thanks for the recipe. Have you run a nutritional eval on this and created a food label for it. I had to do so much of that in my internship and undergrad. Good luck to you and thanks for the post.

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  12. Ooops, I made a typo. It should say "red flame raisins". I hope people read this comment. The last time I did the Nutrient breakdown it was something like 78/12/10 (%CHO/Pro/Fat). I used the exchange system. "Dan Good Bars" nice! Thanks for all the love!!

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  13. Mmm, they look great!! Thanks for sharing!

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  14. Wow those look awesome! I actually have most of the ingredients so I think I'll give 'em a try.

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  15. Very cool. I tried to make my own bars a few years ago...fail. They were okay. I just couldn't make them taste good AND match my nutritional needs.

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  16. oooh these look amazing! im always trying to make my own bars and these look DELISH~

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  17. Thanks for the recipe! Can I use something instead of brown rice syrup? :)

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  18. what a great post!! This will totally save me TONS of money.

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  19. LMM,
    You can use some thing else but it may function differently in the recipe. You can use corn syrup, but I have not tried it in this recipe so you may need to mess around a little bit.

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  20. This is such a refreshing, unique guest post! Thank you Em and thank you Dan who makes energy bars! I enjoyed the snapshot of your idea generating notebook! It's putting ideas in my head and I like it! :) Energy bars do seem pretty daunting to make and it looks like there are a bijillion ingredients. (scary) Maybe the next time I feel adventurous, I'll be giving this a go! :P

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  21. Hey! Wow those look great!
    Do you happen to know the nutritional stats on them? I'm mainly interested in calories, fat, fiber, and protein.
    Thanks!
    Taylor
    tkad22@berkeley.edu

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  22. Hey Everyone, I'm a Bar Fanatic as well and I even started selling mine at local events.
    I've been thinking its time to expand and sell online.

    Is anyone interested in becoming part of a new online business selling great tasting food bars, shakes, chocolate and other natural healthy products? If so, lets talk shantbar@gmail.com
    Josh

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  23. I just made these (had this recipe saved for ages) and they are amazing!! They taste like cookies to me, not energy bars. Can't wait to have one before my workout tomorrow :)

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  24. Clif bars are great tasting and have some good vitamins/ingredients. I would like to see them make the packaging fit the bar though. The bar has gotten smaller over the years, but the package has stayed the same size. Just kind of annoying. It makes me feel like the company wants the customer to believe the bar in larger. Also, several other companies are lowering the sugar content without compromising taste. I believe Clif could do this as well.

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