Berry Cherry Energy Bars

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It’s 1:38 pm and you are schlepping to the next activity in your jam packed day. All you’ve had is a cup of coffee and a banana and you’ve been on the run since 6:30am. At this point of the day, if you are anything like me, you are going to be VERY hangry. In case you aren’t familiar with the term, hangry was coined for those of us who get angry when hungry. If you can relate, then you’ve experienced what it’s like to be a “hangry” person. See below.

When my husband agreed to love me for better or worse while reciting our vows on our wedding day, it meant that he was promising to love me through my rare dark states in which I never mean what I do or say while in the heat of a hanger attack, but like The Hulk, my barbs can sting nevertheless. If you are familiar with Tina Fey from 30 Rock, you will have a better understanding for what I am like when I am hangry.

I have the perfect solution to cure a hanger attack and they are my Berry Cherry Bars. They are energy bars and they require very little work to create in your own kitchen. Let’s get back to discussing those times when you are running out of the house and you are on-the-go all day… Those are some of the hardest moments to eat healthy and keeping our metabolisms going. One reason I think Berry Cherry Bars are great is because I can eat something homemade and the ingredient list doesn’t sound like a science project.

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I love having control over knowing what exactly is going into my food, especially in this case because energy bars that are sold at the grocery store can be deceiving. The store-brand bars are often labeled “healthy” but in actuality, they are loaded with refined sugars, low-quality fats, preservatives and artificial ingredients. Have you ever checked the first ingredient in a commonly sold energy bar? I can guarantee that some sort of sweetener will be the first ingredient listed.

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Making your own nutrition bars takes a short amount of time and this recipe is loaded with whole grains and protein. I only wish I knew how to make these back in college when I was eating “South Beach Diet” bars practically every single day in an effort to obtain a svelte figure and curb my hanger. I think I carried more of those bars around with me in my backpack than actual textbooks. I consumed them on the regular, and as a result, I put on an extra 10+ lbs (the daily pasta intake while studying abroad in Florence didn’t help matters).

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I tried to create my protein bar recipe with the idea of keeping it simple, affordable, and containing some of the most nutritionally packed foods you could possibly eat. I love eating nuts and seeds because they are a delicious source of protein. Sunflower seeds are also loaded in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Individuals who consume them on a regular basis have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. I opt to use sunflower seeds instead of peanuts in some of my recipes because these power seeds are full of vitamin E, which has anti-aging effects! Anything natural that prevents wrinkles is top-notch in my book. They are also full of iron and potassium.

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I make sure to add both dry and fresh fruit to these bars. They give these energy nom noms (another name we use for these guys) their soft, chewy texture. I often swap out the raspberries for blueberries and the dried cherries for dates, whole dried cranberries or apricots. The beauty of this recipe is that you can use pretty much whatever you have on hand. Dried fruit is so easy to store, making it simple to whip up these bars on a whim if you wish.

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You can even add 2 TBS of a plant based protein powder to my bars because it helps keep the belly fuller for longer. This has been a new trick of mine because one of my favorite times to eat these power bars is after a killer workout, so it’s important for me to eat plenty of protein to restore my fatigued muscles. Most of the time though, I leave this step out when I am making these bars for a large group.

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I brought some Berry Cherry Bars and Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad to Pure Barre Financial District (aka my second home) so that my fellow barre babes can be inspired to make healthy food choices after an intense workout.

Berry Cherry Bars will last a few days at room temperature and for up to a week in the refrigerator. I like to freeze them as well because they defrost beautifully.

Note: Make sure you buy your nuts raw and unsalted for this recipe

Berry Cherry Energy Bars
Berry Cherry Energy Bars Author: Michele Wolfson Berry Cherry Energy Bars Author: Michele Wolfson Berry Cherry Energy Bars Author: Michele Wolfson Prep time: 20 mins Cook time: 35 mins Total time: 55 mins Serves: 12 bars Adapted from Ellie Kreiger's Walnut and Dried Cherry Bar http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ellie-krieger/walnut-and-dried-cherry-bars-recipe.html
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • ¾ cup whole-wheat flour
  • ¼ cup toasted wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup honey (agave for vegan version)
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 2 eggs (I use ½ finely blended walnuts until they make a paste as a binder for a vegan version to replace the egg)
  • ¾ cup chopped dried tart cherries
  • ½ cup finely chopped pecans or sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup of blueberries or raspberries
  • ¼ cup semi sweet chocolate chips (optional)
  • ¼ cup coconut flakes (optional)
  • Cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, wheat germ, cinnamon and salt.
  2. In another medium bowl, whisk together the honey (agave for vegan version), applesauce, oil, and egg (or walnut paste if making vegan until well combined.
  3. Stir in the dry mixture with the wet until well combined. Add the dried cherries, pecans, blueberries, chocolate and coconut flakes.
  4. Coat an 8½ inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.
  5. Cool completely and cut into 12 bars, about 4 by 1½ inches each.

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