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Energy Bars or Granola Bars… Home made or Pre-packaged?

Energy Bars or Granola Bars… Home made or Pre-packaged ?

What do you look for in them? Should there be this much protein, or that many grams of carbs or even the fat, what about the fat. Why don’t we set those macro-nutrients aside and take a deeper look into the ingredients of the bars your buying.
Most of the leading brands of cereal or granola bars use maltose corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, or molasses to help sweeten the product and caramelize it so the ingredients stick Nor are they good if your just snacking. And why so many ingredients anyway? Does the manufacturer really think that the sweeter it is the more likely we will buy it? Well based on that statement, yes. Other ingredients include different kinds of palm oil, sunflower or safflower oil, then large amounts of sugar and fructose. For this type of food, I prefer to look at the list of ingredients as being more important that the nutrition facts.
For years I have tried different granola bars for snacks and energy bars for pre-game or pre and post exercise bouts and never really was satisfied with what was on the market. The fact is, the really healthy ones were expensive and the really tasty (yet bad for you) were cheaper thus more affordable. The tendency for middle America to buy the tasty ones only leads us down the same path towards our current state of either being over-weight or obese. Like a Facebook time line, I’m about to time line my energy bar consumption from 1996-2012

Powerbar – Powerbar Harvest – Any cheap granola bar(college and grad school days)- Luna Bar- Cliff Bar- Home made energy and granola bars

Now the biggest issue with home made is the time consumption, but the quality of ingredients is far superior and then the issue becomes, how do you want to treat your body. The same principle applies with working out. Its not about finding time, its about making time.

I am going to list off three recipes that my wife and I use and the sources we found them from. I give a lot of credit to the authors, as they have laid the foundation for us creating more healthy energy bars.

Pulse the following ingredients in a food processor until coarse but well-blended:
FRUIT — 2 cups Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
NUTS — cups raw cashews, ½ cups raw almonds
FLAVORINGS — 3/4 cup powder, dash of sea salt

Add ½ cup of unsweetened shredded coconut, 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract and 2 to 3 tablespoons of cold water to your food processor until the whole mixture comes together like a dry but moist dough. Then press it into a 11 ½ x 4 ½ inch prepared, aluminum foil lined pan with a rubber spatula, allowing it to chill in your refrigerator for several hours or overnight for best flavor and consistency.
In a large mixing bowl, add the following ingredients until well-combined:
GRAIN – 3 cups puffed whole grain cereal (such as Kashi)
FRUIT – ¼ cup chopped pitted dates, ¼ cup chopped dried tart cherries, ¼ cup raisins
NUTS – ½ cup chopped walnuts
In a heavy saucepan, heat these liquid-based ingredients on high, whisking for at least one minute until they thicken:
NUTS – 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
SWEETENERS – ¼ cup honey, ¼ cup brown rice syrup

Pour the hot liquid into your large bowl until all energy bar ingredients are well-blended.Then, press everything into a prepared 9-inch square metal baking pan — the consistency will be similar to that of marshmallow rice crispy treats, so be prepared to use some elbow grease! Bake for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven until the bars become golden brown and then cool thoroughly before cutting.

Both from We have used both and are great, but my favorite so far is this one from

2 cups oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup dried cherries/cranberries/blueberries
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon salt (or less is recommended)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
1 egg (or 3-4 egg whites)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

optional: a handful of nuts, chocolate chips, dried fruit (like cranberries, bananas, or blueberries), flax seeds, etc.

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9×13 pan with foil or parchment paper then coat with a little oil. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl: oats, flour, brown sugar, raisins, wheat germ, salt and cinnamon (and any of the optional ingredients). In another bowl mix wet ingredients: oil, honey, egg and vanilla. Pour the wet mixture into dry mixture and stir by hand until blended. Press evenly into the pan. Bake 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely then turn out onto a cutting board. Remove the foil/paper and cut into bars.


Next blog entry: The Top 5 Ingredients for Home made Energy Bars

Future blogs include: Coconut Oil: Benefits, Pre-season Softball and Baseball and The importance of Assessment in Sport and Exercise

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