Saturday, January 29, 2011

Energy Bars for the Things I Need to Do

I have a confession to make.  I have a bookmark folder titled "Recipes to Try."  For those of you like-minded individuals, this may not seem all that odd.  I do a lot of research and find a lot of information on the internet and there are times when I come across a recipe that I want to revisit.  Well, I recently made some "power" bars from a recipe I marked maybe a year ago.



It's not easy to eat healthy snacks when you work in a pastry shop.  When it's busy, you're lucky if you get to sit down and eat lunch, let alone eat the recommended snacks to keep your blood sugar level.  It's easier to just eat scraps of the cake you're cutting, or whatever someone else on the team is cutting.  Also being a woman who loves her sleep, I often skip breakfast, using those extra 20 minutes to keep my eyes closed and pretend I didn't hear the alarm!  I now have a couple of these guys stashed in my tool drawer at work for hunger emergencies.

We're adding a breakfast/power/energy bar to the banquets menu and that got me thinking about making some for myself.  I based this recipe on several, but the first one to catch my eye was the Big Sur Power Bars from Heidi Swanson's 101 Cookbooks blog.  I bought my ingredients at Whole Foods Market in the bulk section.  I wanted to go with some tropical flavors, so I chose unsweetened dessicated coconut, dried pineapple, and cashews.  To boost the health factor, I ground up some flax seeds in my spice grinder.  I cut up my bars and took them to work for second and third opinions.  As one of my workers was chewing his way through half of his bar, he asked what was in it and when I told him he informed me that he was allergic to pineapple.  I told him to spit it out and he said "I can't' it's too good!" and finished it.  It seems that he can't eat raw pineapple, and while he didn't have a reaction (I guess because it was dried?) I kept an eye on him.  Since I linked to the original recipe above, I'll list what I put into mine, just in case you want to try my version.

Tropical Power Bars

1 TBSP butter
1 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup cashews, toasted & chopped
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2/3 cup dessicated coconut, toasted
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups crisp brown rice cereal (I only had lightly sweetened available)
1 TBSP flax seeds, ground medium-fine
Mix nuts, coconut, oats, cereal, and flax in medium bowl.

Bring butter, syrup, sugar, salt, vanilla to a boil.  Pour over cereal & nut mixture.  Mix thoroughly with a spatula, and when it's cool enough, get your hands in and make sure everything is good and coated.

Press into an 8 x 8-inch baking pan, lined with parchment.  Let sit until bars are cooled and firm.

I find it works better to remove the bars once the top side has cooled and dried, flip them over onto another piece of parchment, or Silpat, remove the parchment that lined the pan and let the other side dry before cutting.  I also cut my bars and separated them so that the cuts sides dried before slipping them into little bags and sealing them.  I cut mine 4" x 1" which yielded 16 bars.  If you look at the bars sold in stores, most of them are no larger than this, so I believe that is a good serving size, but if you cut yours to different sizes, your yield will be different.

This recipe is a good example that you don't have to use exactly what's listed in the ingredients.  For instance, I didn't have quite enough cashews, so I added more almonds to make up the difference.  Use whatever nuts you'd like, dried fruits you prefer, etc.

Sorry I don't have any photos of the finished project.  I have no natural light to shoot by and in the morning, I packed them and took them with me.

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