Homemade Energy Bars

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homemade energy bar recipe
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

When I head out on the road for book tour or just to hunt, fish or forage, I like to take along some homemade energy bars.

I first made these back in 2013 for a long road trip, and they helped me do what I thought was impossible: I managed to go nearly two full months on the road without eating crappy fast food. These little bars pack a huge amount of energy, and their flavor is like nothing you’ve ever eaten before.

The reason is because many of the ingredients of these homemade energy bars are from the Desert Southwest: Amaranth, mesquite flour and syrup, piñon pine nuts, dates. The recipe below includes all kinds of more “normal” substitutions, but if you can follow the recipe, you’re in for a treat.

These bars are chewy, crunchy, sweet and just a tiny bit salty. And one bar will typically last me from about 11 a.m. until dinnertime. How many calories they contain varies on the size of the bar you cut, but whatever the size, they stave off hunger something fierce.

And one of the best parts of this recipe is that there’s barely any cooking involved: You need to pop the amaranth, which is kinda fun, and you need to heat up some nut butter and syrup or honey in a pot. Nothing could be easier. Feel free to play with the ingredients in this recipe to suit your tastes, but keep the ratios the same at least for the first time.

homemade energy bars recipe
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Kept dry and tightly wrapped, these energy bars will keep at room temperature for weeks, months even. Just don’t let them get too hot in your car or wherever, because they will melt, just like any other energy bar.

homemade energy bar recipe
5 from 3 votes

Homemade Energy Bars

Feel free to play around with the ingredients to suit your taste -- or region. Most of the Southwest ingredients are best found online, but you should be able to find amaranth in a lot of supermarkets and pretty much every health food store. 
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12 bars
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1 1/4 cups popped amaranth (or puffed rice)
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/3 cup chopped pine nuts, pecans, peanuts, walnuts, etc
  • 2 tablespoons mesquite bean flour or flaxseed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • A healthy pinch of salt, about 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1/2 cup pine nut butter, almond butter, peanut butter, etc
  • 1/3 cup mesquite bean syrup, maple syrup, honey, etc
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup small semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions 

  • Grease a sheet pan with butter, oil or cooking spray. Ideally you'd use an 8x8 pan, but anything close to that will work.
  • Pop the amaranth. The link above goes to a video on how to do it, but it's easy: Get a pot hot over medium-high heat and put about a tablespoon of amaranth seeds in at once. They will pop almost immediately. Move them to a bowl and repeat until you have your 1 1/4 cups. Don't put too much amaranth in the pot at once or it will not pop correctly. It goes really fast, so no big deal.
  • Mix the chopped dates with the oats, popped amaranth, nuts, mesquite flour, cinnamon and salt together in a bowl.
  • Put the pine nut butter (or whatever nut butter you use) into a small pot with the syrup or honey and stir together over medium-low heat until well combined. Let this cool for a couple minutes, then stir in the vanilla extract.
  • Add the nut butter-syrup mixture to the dry ingredients in the bowl, and mix a little. Add the chocolate chips and mix everything well. Move everything to the greased pan and spread it over the bottom of the pan evenly. Pack it good, then let it sit out for an hour or so to set fully. Use a sharp knife to cut out bars, squares or whatever shape you like and wrap with some wax paper. Eat when hungry.

Notes

Once made, these bars kept for two months in the fridge, and a full month in a closed container at room temperature in my truck, so they are pretty hardy. They do get more crumbly as they age, however.

Nutrition

Calories: 269kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 12mg | Potassium: 335mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 102IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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11 Comments

  1. I’m always looking for better homemade bar recipes, and these look amazing.

    Do you have any suggestions for those of us who are both gluten free and have issues with oats (GF ones are difficult to find here, so I haven’t tried that work-around yet)? I could use quinoa flakes, but I doubt they would work as well as a filler.

  2. Emily: Try adding a little more syrup/honey, like 3 more tablespoons. It will make the bars stickier, but they will hold together better.

  3. Hi!

    Thank you for this recipe! I tried making it yesterday, but had trouble with the ingredients not sticking together in the pan (the bars fall apart when I try to take them out). I even added extra peanut butter for more sticky effect. Should the honey/peanut butter mixture have been more liquidy?

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks!

  4. We made these last night so Joe could take them to the radio show this morning – he used them for the Good Food segment. We used flaxseed meal, honey, and some of the hickory nuts we have been shelling. Excellent. I’m going to try substituting some dried blueberries and cherries for the choc. chips next time. Thanks for the recipe, and happy travels!

  5. Hank,

    This high energy Wild ‘Clif” bars reminds me of the Pemmican made by Native Americans, minus the protein & fat of course. Since you are a connoisseur of natural fats, what about your own spin on the original protein bar, pemmican? Duck Fat Pemmican anyone? Not recommending them for the road, as you are probably not exactly burning the calories in your truck seat, but would be good in the pack for a day of Elk hunting in the high sierras. Thanks for the post.

    Guy

  6. Can you provide any substitutions for the dates and mesquite bean flour or flaxseed?? I have a large number of food allergies I need to be careful with.

  7. I love that these bars are naturally gluten-free, Hank. We gf’ers just have to be sure to use gluten-free oats and that’s easy to do. Thanks so much for the recipe. Hope the final leg of your tour goes well!

    Shirley