Makes 16 squares
This is another variation of the original Energy Bars I posted ages ago…well, it seems like ages ago anyway. It’s adapted from Rebecca Katz whose recipes are just delicious. As head cook (most of the week anyway) in our home, I’ve taken charge of my hubby’s diet as he trains for the NYC Marathon. Snacks are often the downfall of any program so it’s important to make those snacks work for you despite what regimen you’re on. (Pregnant and nursing moms, these are great for you too.) And, snacks are another opportunity to capitalize on serious nutrition and real energy. We should never underestimate the power of a snack. They get us through to the next meal and if done right, your body will be thankful all day long.
Hazelnuts, sometimes referred to as Filberts even though they’re actually different nuts, are native to Turkey. (Most of our hazelnuts now hail from Oregon.) These nuts are high energy nuts! They’re rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids including the essential fatty acid linoleic acid. These fats are key to our health because they lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol which is what we want. Hazelnuts also pack dietary fiber along with several vitamins and minerals into itself. Most notably are folate (unique for nuts) which is why these are super for expectant mommies to snack on. They also pack in other B-complex vitamins making it a pretty awesome little nut. They are high in Vitamin E, that lovely fat soluble anti-oxidant that does wonders for cell integrity and is great for the skin! It’s an important vitamin for runners because as they increase their training, the oxidative stress also increases.² Vitamin E keeps that in check.
They are second only to almonds in their calcium levels.¹ Some minerals include magnesium which plays a critical role in endurance performance such as long distance running. “Magnesium mainly exists in muscles and bones, where it assists with muscle contractions and energy metabolism.”³ Other biggies are iron and zinc. Iron is a necessary mineral for the production of hemoglobin, which “carries oxygen from the lungs to the working muscles”.² Without enough iron, which is lost through sweat, fatigue starts to get the better of you. Zinc is key for a healthy immune system. Excessive exercise depletes zinc and thus can reduce immunity. (The body is busy repairing itself.) A little goes a long way…so take these squares on your next long run!
I’ve mentioned moms-to-be and runners in this post because I made these for my runner husband and a pregnant friend, but really these are super for everyone. There are even suggestions to make these beauties both gluten-free and vegan!
On your marks, get set…bake!
1/4 C spelt flour (For a GF version, use 1/4 C oat flour.)
2 T flax seeds, ground (or chia seeds)
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 C rolled oats
1 C hazelnuts
1 C walnuts
2 T quinoa puffs (optional-I got these from Nuts.com which is a great site with great products. Shredded coconut works beautifully here, too!)
2 C whole dried cranberries (alternatively, you could do 1 C of cranberries and 1 C of your choice of dried fruit)
1/4 C semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional-if you want to keep your sugar consumption in check, omit these)
1 egg (For a vegan version, add 3 T water to 1 T flax meal (in this order) and then refrigerate for minimum of 15 minutes…up to an hour is ok, too.)
1/4 C maple syrup
2 T coconut oil
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place nuts on a sheet pan and toast for about 7 minutes or until fragrant. Let cool. (This toasting step can be skipped and you’ll still get super yummy Guaya Bars, but the toasting adds a nice depth of flavor.)
2. In the meantime, add first 6 ingredients to a food processor and process for 5 seconds, until well combined. Transfer to a large bowl.
3. Add cooled nuts to food processor and process for about 5 seconds to roughly chop the nuts. Add quinoa puffs and dried fruit and process for another 10 seconds or until a coarse dough is formed. Add chocolate chips and process for another 5-10 seconds. Add to flour mixture.
4. In a separate bowl, combine egg, maple syrup and coconut oil and whisk well. Add to flour and nut mixture.
5. Using your hands, squeeze the dough so that all ingredients get fully incorporated and sticky.
6. In a baking pan (I used 2, 9X9 pans) lined with parchment paper, add 3 or 4 generous handfuls (I have small hands so play with the right amount for you.) and flatten evenly. (I prefer them thicker but cut smaller, but this part is entirely up to you.)
7. Bake in the oven at 350° for about 20 minutes. You’ll want to check on it to make sure it doesn’t get too browned or dry. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes.
8. Remove the entire block using the parchment paper and cut into desired shapes/sizes on a cutting board. Let cool completely before serving.
9. Enjoy…again and again!
*The bars will keep for 4-5 days in a ziploc bag, but they freeze really well…I’ve kept extra batches for over a month and they’re still chewy and yummy and ridiculous!
¹ Rebecca Wood, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia