Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Octane Energy Bars

I've been dragging energy level is down because of this ridiculous heat. So, I blame the heat for my unproductivity--unfortunately, it's one of the busiest times of the year for me. I could either do this:

Or...try something healthier. After having my mother in law visit recently to help us out (my husband had his 4th weekend home since 2011 started this weekend), I was inspired by her energy and pulled out an energy bar recipe I've been meaning to try since college (yes, since COLLEGE). It was featured in the local paper outside of Chattanooga, TN. I didn't name them 'Octane Energy Bars'--so I realize the term 'octane' doesn't scientifically apply. It's been a while since chemistry has been on my radar, but according to Wikipedia (no, it's not my only source!), 'By the mid-nineties, the phrase [octane] was commonly being used as an intensifier and has apparently found a place in modern English vernacular.'  Now, let's hope these bars act like rocket fuel. I've adapted the recipe to suit my needs and make it somewhat easier to follow directions after some trial and error.

Am I ever glad that I made these!!! These energy bars are absolutely phenomenal. WAY better than your grocery store granola bars. Decently healthy recipe, in fact. The only other time I used brown rice syrup was for the crunchy brown rice crispy espresso nut bars from Heidi Swanson (she calls them 'Big Sur' power bars). I really like cooking with it now! It's not cheap can find it Whole Foods or online--Heidi Swanson says that it doesn't give you that jolt of sweetness that other sweeteners do and has a more rounded flavor. The bars are chewy, sweet, nutty, and sort of creamy.

Reasons to make these:
  1. Your kids will love them.
  2. They taste like a treat. You're forced to eat healthier.
  3. It's a great snack when in a hurry.
  4. They have a ton of fiber. At least the fat is a 'good fat.'
 Cons: You have to go to the health food store to buy the ingredients. If you saw how annoying it was to shop at my small Whole Foods,  you'd understand. But, it was worth it. Enjoy!


 Makes ~18-24 bars
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup crunchy grain cereal (I used crispy brown rice cereal, but you can use 'Rice Krispies'--just not 'puffed' rice cereal)
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups dried apricots, chopped (I used 1 cup dried apricots + 1/2 cup dried cherries)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup protein powder (I used vanilla-flavored soy protein powder)
  • 1 tsp. butter or olive oil (I used Smart Balance spread)
  • 3/4 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

 TIP: Get all your ingredients together and read through the entire directions because you need to move sort of quickly--it really helps.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9X13 inch pan and set aside.
Toast the first 3 ingredients (oats, cereal, sesame seeds) for about 10 minutes (I used a shallow edge-rimmed cookie sheet), stirring once, about halfway. Do NOT let the mixture brown. (You can turn your oven off at this point as you will no longer need it.)

Meanwhile, in a separate smaller bowl, mix the wheat germ with the protein powder and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, spoon in the toasted oat-cereal-sesame seed mixture. Mix in the dried fruits, trying to separate the pieces. Then, add the wheat germ-protein powder mixture to this and stir until incorporated as best you can.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter or heat oil, and add rice syrup until bubbly. Mix in the peanut butter and cinnamon (I just put all of these in a pan and heated them until they were incorporated, melted, and more liquid like).

Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients and QUICKLY mix together and transfer to the 9X13 inch pan (Come clean moment: I had to use my hands to fully incorporate everything and it was much easier because it's not like mixing sticky rice crispy treats). Pat mixture with your hands to spread it out evenly.

Refrigerate the bars for at least 4 hours. Cut into about 24 bars and wrap each bar in wax paper.

Store in refrigerator.


  1. Hey Anca, it's Kelly. This recipe looked really good. James LOVES bars and we spend WAY too much money on them, so I have been trying to make them and have found a variety of recipes. I am definitely going to try this one!

    I have a question: so, you said preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, but then you did not say how long to bake. You just said after patting them into the baking dish/pan to refrigorate for at least 4 hours. Just wanted where the baking step comes in...refrigerate then bake, bake then put in fridge, or do we not need to bake, just refrigerate for it to "solidify"?

    Thanks so much for the post!

  2. Neer mind Anca! I just realized that you used the oven in the first step! Ha! I was thinking when you said "toast" that initially meant in a saute pan (duh!) I realize now you just do that toastin step in the oven...would make sense :)

  3. Hi Kelly! Yes, you only use the oven for the first 10 minutes to toasting the first 3 ingredients--I use a shallow cookie sheet with a raised ridge edge (I should have taken a picture of it).

    And the saucepan is melting & incorporating the liquid-like ingredients. After that, it's all mixing & spreading in the pan. The cold fridge solidifies them. I will try to clarify in recipe.

    These are among my favorites for sure--my neighbor got some & she was on her way to Whole Foods for the ingredients last I talked with her. Ha! We've become addicts. I have a couple others I plan on posting later this summer. Let me know if you have any other questions.