One of the most common food woes I hear from patients, friends, and family is about finding healthy snacks. You're likely looking for something quick and easy that will give you energy to avoid an afternoon slump. For many people, that's some form of snack bar- it's individually packaged, can be healthy-ish, and doesn't totally break the bank. Now, there are quite a few bars out there that I do love, but so many of of them are full of processed sugars, contain gut-busting indigestible fibers, and often end up being more of a meal bar than a snack.
I believe some snack bars have their place, but why spend those extra minutes in the grocery aisle deciphering nutrition panels and health claims, when you can whip up your own nutritious energy bars and bites in your kitchen? I'm always a fan of scratch cooking when possible because it puts you in the driver's seat and guarantees that your healthy snacking needs are met.
Today I'm sharing two of my most recent snacking creations, which I encourage you to try as-is, but also to swap ingredients and adapt these tasty treats to your liking. Cheers to getting your healthy slump-bump on!
Pumpkin Quinoa Oat Bars
1 cup cooked quinoa- I used a tricolor blend
1 cup raw, plain rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp ground flax seed
1 Tbsp hemp seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt and dash of vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Stir to fully combine.
Spread into a baking or bread pan lined with parchment paper. Choose baking dish based on how thick or thin you want your bars to be. I used an 8x8 baking pan and spread the mixture evenly into 1/2 inch thickness.
Bake for 20 minutes. Turn the oven up to 400 degrees and bake for final 10 minutes to dry out bars. Longer baking time will be needed for thicker bars so look and touch to judge "dryness".
Let cool before slicing. Can wrap bars individually in parchment paper or toss in your lunch bag however you tote your goods. Store remaining bars in an airtight container for up to 1 week or in the fridge to enjoy for longer.
*Note: These bars really let the nutty flavor of the quinoa and pecans shine- AKA they are not overly sweet, so adjust to your tastes accordingly. Also, in terms of texture these bars are on the softer, chewier side, but can be baked longer for a crisper bite or you can use raw quinoa instead of cooking it first for even more crunch!
Nutrition info per bar (recipe yields 10 bars): 119 calories, 15 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 6 g fat
Coconut Almond Energy Bites
1 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup raw, unsalted almonds
1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup coconut oil
pinch of cinnamon and salt
Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend for about 1-2 minutes or until mixture starts to hold together.
Roll into ball shapes of your desired snacking size. Keep in airtight container on the countertop or fridge.
*Note: This recipe makes about 10-13 bites depening on how you roll. Feel free to adjust amounts and ingredients- there is no wrong way to make energy bites!
Nutrition info per bite (recipe yields 13 bites): 129 calories, 11 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 10 g fat