This past week I was cooking for ninety hungry guys on retreat and I bought them a couple of packages of surprisingly good energy bars at Costco. They were full of dried fruits and seeds, with no preservatives or corn syrup. I decided to try to reproduce them, using whole grain products, natural sweeteners and mostly organic ingredients. As research, I must have read 20 recipes on line and wasn’t satisfied with any of them. So, as usual, I made up my own. Here it is, see what you think…
HOMEMADE ENERGY BARS (VEGAN AND WHEAT FREE)
Preheat your oven to 325º F (Yields 15 1 1/2-inch x 2 1/2-inch bars)
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 cup dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried apricots or mangoes, chopped
2 tablespoons flax seeds ground in a blender with 1/2 cup water and 1 tablespoon oil (this represents the egg replacement)3/4 cup rice syrup or honey (you have my permission to use honey–I used rice syrup because I prefer it’s milder sweetness. Using honey will probably result in a sweeter bar.)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup brown rice flour (or wheat flour if that’s what you have on hand or what you prefer)
3/4 cup additional water
While the oven is warming, spread the sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet and place in the oven for 6-7 minutes to lightly toast them. Oil a 9″x 9″ baking pan.
Blend the flax seeds together in a blender with the water and oil for 2-3 minutes.
With blade inserted, use your food processor to chop the pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup of the sesame seeds, the dates, cranberries and apricots. When these are coarsely chopped, add the flax mixture and the remaining ingredients. Process only just enough to mix all the ingredients. Take out the blade and knead the ingredients with your hand to insure everything is evenly mixed. Press this mixture into the baking pan, sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds over the top and bake in a 325º F oven 30-35 minutes or until very lightly browned around the edges. Cool before cutting. Freeze if you will need to keep these bars more than a week.