Today is the first day of summer vacation here at my house, and wouldn’t you know it, we didn’t make it to 10:00 before I heard, “Mom, I’m hungry.” I guess the mid-morning snack routine the kids follow when they’re at school is going to persist here at home. I thought it was high time to whip up a batch of energy bars from a recipe I modified from one of my favorite blogs, Brown Eyed Baker. Her recipe was developed as a homemade no-bake version of her favorite store-bought energy bars, and they’re totally tasty as her recipe is written.
In my never-ending quest to modify recipes to bump up nutrition, however, I made a few tweaks to her recipe with the primary goal of lowering the sugar content and upping the protein and dietary fiber for a longer lasting effect on my kids’ appetites. The changes had pretty minor effects on the flavor. By replacing crisp rice cereal with a brown rice version, the fiber and protein levels went up. I replaced the brown rice syrup with date puree for two reasons: dates have vitamins and minerals that rice syrup doesn’t and dates are also high in dietary fiber, meaning the sweetening agent would help keep hunger levels satisfied longer.
You’ll notice peanuts and peanut butter in this recipe. If those ingredients are of concern to you, substitute equal quantities of the nut and nut butter of your choice. If all nuts are off the table, a sunflower seed butter and roasted unsalted sunflower seeds are a great option. You can throw up to a cup of additional add-ins into the recipe, such as raisins, dried cherries or cranberries, or whatever you like. Any more than a cup, though, and you’ll have a hard time keeping the bars together.
Individually wrap bars in plastic wrap to store. They make great car snacks, so throw a few into your bag for whenever the need arises.
Kids will love this homemade snack bar and you can send it with them to school, confident that the fiber, protein, and heart-healthy fat will keep them full and energized to help them focus on learning and playing all day long.
Tip: Prep these over the weekend and use for snacks throughout the week.
Servings: 9 (79 g )
Prep Time: 15 min.
Cook Time: 30 min.
- 1⅓ cup pitted dates
- 1¼ cup crisp brown rice cereal
- 1 cup quick-cooking oats
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped peanuts
- 2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. water
- ½ cup natural peanut butter
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ¼ cup bittersweet chocolate chips
- Spray an 8″x8″ pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- Place the dates in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Remove ⅓ cup of the chopped dates and set aside.
- Combine the remaining chopped dates with the cereal, oats, peanuts, flaxseed, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
- Return the reserved ⅓ cup dates to the food processor with the water and process until smooth.
- Combine the date and water mixture with the peanut butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until completely blended (3-5 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
- Combine the peanut butter mixture with the cereal mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the chocolate chips.
- Press mixture evenly into the pan and allow it to cool (15 minutes) before cutting into bars to serve.