Ginger ChocoCherry Energy Bars

Mar 21, 2017

I always have some of these bars in my freezer and an easy snack when I'm on the run and for after workouts. They are packed with whole grain carbohydrates and complete protein sources, both essential for restoring glycogen (energy) stores and rebuilding muscle after workouts. The recipe is easy to adapt to suit your own preferences too: you could substitute the dried fruit and seeds with items you have on-hand or that you prefer (see tips at the bottom). Crystalized ginger and tart cherries are used in this recipe because they contain some compounds that may help improve muscle recovery after exercise by reducing inflammation. Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc and protein while the wheat germ adds iron, fibre, potassium, and healthy fat which are also needed for energy balance. I find these bars a bit crumbly at times so might be more challenging to eat while actively working out, but they are excellent as tasty, nutrient-rich pre- or post snack. Remember to eat your snack within 30 minutes of finishing the workout for best recovery!

Prep time 45 minutes. Cook time 35-45 minutes. Makes up to 24 bars.

Ingredients:

3 cups rolled oats

½ cup wheat germ

¾ cup pumpkin seeds

1½ cups puffed grain cereal (such as rice, wheat, or kamut)

1½ cups high-protein cereal (such as Go-Lean, special K protein, or Vector)

¼ cup whole wheat flour

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup chopped crystalized ginger

¾ cup dried sour or tart cherries

¾ cup mini dark chocolate chips

1 - 300g container soft tofu

2 eggs

½ cup canola oil

1 cup honey

1 tbsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread the oats and wheat germ on a large baking sheet and place in oven. Spread the pumpkin seeds on another baking sheet and place in oven. Bake until fragrant and turning slightly golden, about 5-10 minutes. Check a few times to make sure they're not turning too dark. The pumpkin seeds will start to pop and puff out as they toast. The different pans may need to be in the oven for different amounts of time. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. While the other items are toasting, add the puffed and protein cereals, flour, salt, ginger, cherries, and chocolate chips to a large bowl. When slightly cooled, add the toasted oats, wheat germ, and pumpkin seeds to the bowl and stir everything together.
  3.  In a blender or food processor, puree the tofu, eggs, oil, honey, and vanilla extract until smooth. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides as needed. Pour into the oat /cereal mixture and mix to combine.
  4. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the mixture onto this baking sheet and smooth out so it covers the sheet evenly, pressing down with a spatula to flatten the mixture.
  5. Bake for 35-45 minutes. The edges will start to brown and the center should be firm. Remove from the oven and let the baking sheet cool on a wire rack.
  6. Cut into bars. This will make about 16 to 24 bars, depending on if you want a snack or more substantial part of a quick meal. Wrap the individual pieces in plastic wrap, place in a freezer bag or container and store in the freezer. Grab and go as needed.

gingerenergybars.jpg

*Tips

Dried fruit and seeds - You could substitute your favourite dried fruit for the ginger and cherries, and replace another toasted nut or seed for the pumpkin seeds. Some fun combinations might be peanuts and dark and golden raisins; walnuts with dried blueberries and dried apricots; or sunflower seeds with dried cranberries and dried mango. 

Tofu - if you're hesitant to use tofu, remember that it adds a complete protein, as well as many vitamins and minerals. It also helps with the overall texture of the bars. If you are unable to use the tofu, you could substitute with 300g of plain Greek yogurt. Try to use one with about 4% m.f. (milk fat).

Honey - you can use maple syrup for part of or all of the honey. The bars might be a little more crumbly and soft if you use all maple syrup.




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