Power up with homemade energy bars

Camilla V. Saulsbury shares healthy and homemade recipes for power bars in her new book, Power Hungry. Credit: Lake Isle Press
Camilla V. Saulsbury shares healthy and homemade recipes for energy bars in her new book, Power Hungry. Credit: Tina Rupp, Lake Isle Press

Tired of the generic flavor and chalky taste of the energy bar sitting in your bag?

Health and fitness guru Camilla Saulsbury certainly was. It prompted the author of the new book “Power Hungry” to get in the kitchen and create her own batch.

“The biggest reason for me is taste,” says Saulsbury about her switch to homemade snacks. “So many of the bars on the market taste the same, and you see the same flavors over and over, like chocolate, then peanut butter, then peanut butter chocolate.”

Of course, the ingredient list was another turn off for the Texas-based mom. “People think these are healthy alternatives, when in fact they’re just loaded with artificial preservatives and really low-quality proteins like collagen,” Saulsbury says.

Saulsbury put her PhD in sociology and food studies to work, finding the best ingredients to convert us from processed over-the-counter bar junkies to health-conscious cooks with “Power Hungry.”

In the book, Saulsbury includes detailed instructions, tips and even suggestions about which bars should be eaten for which workouts. She vows to keep us from what she calls “power bar palate fatigue.”

“I didn’t want it to be just the same recipe with a bunch of different permutations,” she says. “I wanted to show that you can make great bars with a few less-than usual ingredients.”

Camilla’s No. 1 Tip:

“Keep a few basic ingredients on hand, like dried fruit, oats, nut butter and a liquid sweetener. If you just have those basic ingredients, you can already make a great number of the bars in the book.”

Try this recipe she shared with us for Greek Yogurt Muesli Bars:

Saulsbury shares her recipe for Greek Yogurt Muesli bars. Credit: Tina Rupp, Lake Isle Press
Saulsbury shares her recipe for Greek Yogurt Muesli bars. Credit: Tina Rupp, Lake Isle Press

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned or quick cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup nuts, chopped (e.g., almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios)
1/4 cup seeds (e.g., sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp hearts)
1/4 cup unsweetened flake or shredded coconut, finely chopped
1/2 cup lightly packed all-natural, sweetened vanilla whey protein powder
1 large egg
2/3 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/3 cup natural, unsweetened nut or seed butter (e.g., peanut, cashew, or sunflower)
3 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, warmed until melted, or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon or orange zest
1/2 cup chopped dried fruit (e.g., cherries, apricots, figs, raisins)
Greek Yogurt Bar Coating (optional)

Directions:
1. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
3. Spread the oats, nuts, seeds, and coconut on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for six to eight minutes, shaking halfway through, until golden and fragrant. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool; stir in the protein powder.
4. Mix together the egg, yogurt, nut or seed butter, honey, oil, and lemon zest until blended.
5. Add the yogurt mixture to the oats mixture and stir until just blended. Mix in the dried fruit.
6. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
7. Bake in the preheated oven for 13 to 16 minutes or until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Spread or drizzle the mixture with the bar coating, if using; refrigerate for 30 minutes.
8. Using the liner, lift the mixture from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 12 bars.

BAR TIPS
—If you don’t want to use protein powder, simply increase the total amount of oats by 1/3 cup. Alternatively, add 1/4 cup of flaxseed meal or 1/2 cup of nonfat instant milk powder.
—Be sure to use Greek yogurt for the recipe. It is a strained yogurt, which means it has a much lower water content than regular yogurt.
—If you’d like to use regular dairy or nondairy yogurt, strain 2 cups of it through a cheesecloth or coffee filter overnight. Discard the excess liquid and use 2/3 cup of the strained yogurt.


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