Energy bars are a great snack for families, especially when you are out and about on hikes, at the playground, or even on the road or in-flight. Commercial energy bars can have some freaky ingredients and additives in them, ranging from artificial dyes to modified ingredients to high-fructose corn syrup. A homemade, whole foods-based recipe with healthy yet tasty ingredients is a much more desirable alternative since they make great, guilt-free snacks or desserts and keep family members and playmates satiated on adventures to and fro and during the school year.
I've always wanted to make my own energy bars, but I was uninspired by many of the recipes I saw online or in cookbooks until I bought the Oh She Glows cookbook. The cookbook's creator actually ran an energy bar bakery for a while, so I knew I could count on her bar recipes to make the grade. This bar is a mash-up of two recipes featured in her cookbook with a few adaptations, and it is bursting with fiber-filled rolled oats, protein-packed peanut butter, and fruits, nuts, and seeds to keep bellies satisfied and ready for adventure. An homage to the trail mix GORP (which often contains peanuts, granola or cereal, fruit, and nuts), this bar can be adapted to your family's tastes: consider trying dried apricots instead of the raisins or add in a few chocolate chips to turn the bar into an after dinner treat. Read on for a no-bake, healthy vegan GORP energy bar recipe that will have your family ready to hit the trails!
1. Gather the ingredients.
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1 1/4 cup rice crisp cereal
- 1/4 cup hemp seeds
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (or pepitas)
- 3 Tbsp sunflower seeds
- 3 Tbsp dried cranberries
- 3 Tbsp raisins
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
- 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
2. Mix the dry ingredients together.
In a large bowl, add the rolled oats, rice crisp cereal, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, raisins, dried cranberries, cinnamon, and salt. Mix well.
3. Cook the brown rice syrup and peanut butter together.
In a saucepan, add the brown rice syrup and peanut butter. Heat over medium while stirring to combine. Let the mixture bubble for 30 seconds to a minute (the mixture should become slightly more liquid), then turn it off and add the vanilla extract.
4. Coat the dry ingredients with the wet mixture.
Pour the peanut butter/brown rice syrup mixture over the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula. Make sure you get everything coated with the mixture (the hemp seeds kept slipping to the bottom so I kept turning the ingredients over so that they would all be mixed in) so that the bars stick together.
5. Pour and press the mixture into a pan.
Line an 8×8 inch Pyrex or baking pan with parchment paper to keep the bars from sticking. Pour the mixture into the pan and smooth and press it down with a spoon or spatula to keep all of the ingredients together. Place the pan in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes to firm up the bars.
6. Cut the bars.
Lift the block of bars out of the pan using the parchment paper and place on the counter. Using a serrated knife or pizza cutter, cut the block into 12 rectangular bars. You can obviously make the bars bigger for hungry bellies, but these energy bars are pretty hearty!
7. Serve and enjoy.
Serve immediately or put the bars into an airtight container, cover, and store in the fridge. You can also wrap the bars individually in plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate for a quick, portable snack option. Enjoy!