Energy bars, aka power bars, aka food bars, are small rectangular, nutritious, palatable, have a long shelf life, are simple to prepare, and are easy to carry. The recipes I have presented below make use of several common ingredients; peanut butter, wheat bran, wheat germ, protein powder, and honey. Here are five recipes for delicious, nutrient dense, calorie dense food bars.
1) Krispy Meal Replacement Bars
I miss Carnation Instant Breakfast bars. They were delicious, inexpensive and convenient. Why must companies stop making products that are so good? Dedicated foodies may start a petition to bring back discontinued favorites, but until then, take the initiative and come up with substitute recipes. Here is my version:
- 1 cup Rice Crisp cereal
- One packet of Carnation French Vanilla instant breakfast mix, or chocolate, or strawberry, flavor instant breakfast mix. Or mix all three flavors together. Why not?
- ½ cup Peanut butter
- ½ cup Milk or Dark chocolate chips
- ½ cup honey
- ¼ cup oat bran or wheat germ
Melt honey over low heat in a heavy bottomed pan. Stir in peanut butter. Turn the heat off, and it is time to move fast. Add in the packets of carnation instant breakfast, the oat bran, and chocolate chips, a and Rice Crisp cereal. Press into baking dish, and let it harden in the freezer.
Shelf life: These bars will remain fresh and edible for months if kept at refrigerator temperatures of around 45 degrees F. They will be edible for a week or more at room temperature, but will soften. These bars are also fragile and prone to breaking and crumbling, but will still be edible.
2) Morning Oatmeal Bars
These are very simple, no bake, delicious chewy oat bars, and are packed with nutrients. They are also calorie dense, and intended as either an emergency food, or a meal replacement bar. This recipe will provide fiber, protein, complex carbohydrates, and numerous vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
I used a five grain hot cereal mix for the bars I photographed below, but oats, wheat flakes, rye flakes, barley flakes, or any combination thereof will work. You could also get some good results using a few packets of good quality instant oatmeal.
- 1 cup Oats or other whole grain flakes
- ¼ cup Honey
- ½ cup Peanut butter
- ½ cup Chocolate chips
- ½ cup any combination of raisins, golden raisins, and/or dried cranberries
Heat a heavy bottomed pan over low heat. Put honey in pan and let it liquefy. Stir in the peanut butter. Stir in the chocolate. Turn the heat off. Now you will have to work fast as the mix will harden rapidly, similar to epoxy setting once it is mixed. Add the raisins, cranberries and oats, and mix together. Place onto the oiled cookie sheet. Spread it out evenly. Place the pan in the freezer for an hour or so, then remove and cut into bars or squares.
Shelf life: This will keep for months in the fridge or temperatures around 45 degrees F. They will be edible for a week or more at room temperature, but will soften.
3) Vanilla- Lemon Hard Tack
Some of the recipes here are not actually bar shaped, but they fit the criteria listed in the introduction. (You could call a cracker/cookie an energy disc). This is a healthier and better tasting cracker- cookie version of the infamous Civil war era hard tack biscuit.
In addition to provide an indefinite shelf life food source, the original hardtack could be hurled at the enemy to cause massive blunt force trauma, or used as a trauma plate to stop large caliber rounds, or shrapnel from artillery. I exaggerate slightly. Seriously, the original, two ingredient recipe yields a hard giant cracker. It is tasteless, and typically has to be dipped in coffee, tea or soup to make it edible. Saltines or oyster crackers are the modern descendant of hardtack. This recipe adds two other ingredients to give it a sweeter, vanilla and lemon flavor. It is still rock hard, and long lasting, but also much more nutritious.
- 1 cup of Bisquick
- About ¼ cup of water
- 1 packet of Carnation French Vanilla Instant breakfast mix, or Vanilla Whey Protein powder
- 2 packets Myer’s Lemon flavored
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Oil a cookie sheet. Mix Bisquick, protein powder, and Myers Lemon EmergenC together, gradually add water until you reach a thick, doughy consistency. Go easy with the water; you will need less than you think. Oil your hands lightly, and pinch off a piece of the dough. Roll into balls and place on the oiled cookie sheet. Place in the oiled cookie sheet. Press the balls flat and Stick with a fork, making a pattern if you want to get creative. Lower the oven temperature and bake for 45 minutes at 200 degrees, or until the crackers harden and dry out.
Shelf life: At least months if you keep them dry; probably longer.
Bonus recipe: Protein Pancakes
OK, these are not bars, but they can be folded up and eaten cold. They are also delicious of course served hot with maple syrup and butter. Use the real stuff from Vermont and Quebec, not that horrid artificial maple flavored, artificial-colored High Fructose Corn Syrup – syrup. The batter can also be baked in the oven in a skillet at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes to make a simple but nutritious cake. You could cut the cake into bars if you must.
- 1 cup Bisquick
- 2 tbsp. flax meal
- 2 tbsp. wheat germ
- 2 tbsp. oat bran
- 3 tbsp. flax oil
- 1 scoop Vanilla protein powder
- Milk or water to reach desired consistency. The thinner the batter, the thinner the pancake. Try using dark beer or cider for a different taste. The carbonation in the beer will also make for a fluffier pancake if you give it a little time to rise.
Mix all dry ingredients, and add liquid. Whisk together thoroughly. Let the batter sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, covered with a clean dishtowel or paper towel for best results, e.g., nice fluffy pancakes. Pour spoons of batter on to a hot oiled or non-stick griddle or pan. Cook on one side until you see bubbles in the batter. Carefully flip over and finish cooking. Serve with butter and maple syrup, or add apricot or raspberry jam, and roll up.
Shelf life: The prepared pancakes will keep for a day or two. The best way to extend the shelf life is to store the dry ingredients in a Ziploc bag. The contents can be mixed with whatever liquid you have on hand, whether water, milk, cider or beer when you are ready to make the cakes.
As you may have noticed throughout, I am very critical of poor quality ingredients. It is a fallacy that if you blend enough stuff together you can make it tastes good. Use the best quality ingredients you can get and the finished product will taste best. You will not need any correcting with sweeteners or flavorings to make a recipe edible. The idea of making things from scratch is quality control, you know what you are eating, and can put together something highly nutritious.