Due to several severe peanut allergies in the schools, our district has become a “peanut-free zone”. As a mom of kids who could eat peanut butter and jelly literally every day, this posed a bit of a problem. But, once we adapted to the idea I realized that it’s okay for my kids to learn to give up something for someone else. In the process we’ve also learned to enjoy other foods like these yummy energy bars. They’re perfect for school lunches and after school treats. I have-to ration these out so they don’t disappear too quickly.
1 1/2 cup puffed brown rice cereal
1 1/2 cup diced dried apricots
1 cup currants or raisins
1/2 cup nonfat vanilla protein powder (make sure this is a good quality product or simply skip this ingredient)
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup honey or agave nectar
1/2 cup sunbutter*
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
*Sunbutter is made from sunflower seeds. Many grocery stores are now carrying this product, but if you can’t find it you may need to head to a good health food store.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread oats and brown rice cereal in a 9×13 inch nonstick pan and bake for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop the apricots and raisins (a food processor works great for this step if you have one). Add the protein powder and wheat germ, toss to mix. Set aside. In a heavy pan, over medium-high heat bring brown rice syrup and honey to a boil. Remove from heat and add sunbutter, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix well. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together. With a spatula, immediately spread this warm mixture into a 9×13 inch pan lined with parchment paper (since these bars are quite gooey, the parchment paper makes it sooooo much easier to remove later – I’ve tried to skip this step with not so good results). Place another piece of parchment paper on top of the mixture and press into a thin, even layer. Chill until firm – about 4 hours. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate or freeze.
With store-bought energy bars costing roughly a dollar a piece, this homemade version is great for your wallet. Hope you give them a try, they’re delicious!