When Mini Me started college, she found her schedule packed with long days on the go with little time for a substantial breakfast or lunch. I wanted to make her a portable snack that would give her energy and brain power throughout the day, but without crazy ingredients or the protein powder after taste. Mini Me loves peanut butter which is a good source of protein and healthy fats, so that was a good starting point in searching for a recipe to try. During my search for a portable snack bar I came across this Sunset Magazine article on homemade energy bars and decided to give them a shot.
I have been making these bars for the last 4 years while she has been in school, and I know I will make them long after she graduates. They are moist and soft, and packed with good for you ingredients. These bars are quick to make and travel well. With approximately 210 calories, 24 grams of carbohydrates and 7 grams of protein in each bar, these make a perfect grab and go item on your way out the door at the beginning of a busy day. I wrap the bars individually in plastic wrap, put them in a gallon sized ziplock bag and send them to Mini Me every few weeks. She keeps them in the freezer and tosses one in her backpack as she heads to class and I'm happy knowing she has a tasty, healthy snack in her bag just in case she doesn't have time to stop and eat during the day.
Peanut Butter Cranberry Energy Bars
adapted from Sunset Magazine
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup oat or wheat bran
3 Tbs ground flax seeds
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp each baking powder and salt
1/2 cup each chopped peanuts, dried cranberries, and finely chopped dates
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup low fat milk
1 large egg
1/2 cup honey
Zest from one orange
1 Tbs fresh orange juice.
Line a 9x13 pan with plastic wrap. In a large bowl, stir together oats, bran, flax, flour, baking powder, salt, peanuts, cranberries and dates.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together peanut butter, milk, egg, honey, orange zest and orange juice until well blended.
Add flour mixture and beat until completely blended. Scrape dough into prepared pan and with wet fingers or a rubber spatula, pat to fill pan completely and evenly. Chill dough until firm, about 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 300 F. Invert pan onto a work surface, lift off pan, and peel away plastic wrap. Using a bench scraper or knife cut straight in half length wise. Then cut each length into 8 bar about 1 1/2 inches wide. Place bars about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with a slip at or parchment paper. Bake bars until lightly browned and somewhat firm to touch, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.