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).
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.
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
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.
Then add all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
With clean hands, reach in and mix ingredients together until well incorporated. Clean your hands off, and get ready to portion the bars.
**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.
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”)
Bake them at 300 degrees for 14 minutes. They are not like most baked items, so pull them right at 14 minutes.
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.
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]