School’s back in session and between prepping for homecoming, attending weekend socials, and—oh yeah!–class, you probably have barely enough time to catch up on CollegeCandy (LOL JK) let alone cook! I know the routine all too well: you get into a busy cycle, mealtimes go by the wayside and soon you’re like a primitive hunter-gatherer, stuffing your face at each feeding or snacking opportunity that arises, never knowing when the next one will present itself. It’s not a pretty sight, nor is it a very healthy one.
A simple solution to this problem would be to stock up on energy bars. But even those are extremely costly and can be so high in sugar that they’re simply masquerading candy bars. So why not make your own? If you can devote just an hour or two on the weekend to whip up one of these recipes, you’ll have portable, preservative-free meal replacements for the week ahead at just a fraction of the store-bought price!
The All-Natural Homemade Larabar
I have to admit that I’m a huge fan of Larabars. They’re gluten-free, kosher, and made from whole foods with zero preservatives. What’s not to love, you ask? At nearly $2 per bar, they make my wallet skinnier than my jeans. So you can bet I was pleased when the fantastic blogger Angela at Oh She Glows posted this DIY recipe of my favorite Larabar, the Banana Bread.
1/4 cup dates
1/4 cup dried banana
1/3 cup raw almonds
- Slice 1 small banana. Lay banana on greased baking sheet.
- Cook banana at 175F for 2-3 hours until dry.
- Roughly chop 1/4 cup of dates. Put dates and dried banana into food processor. Process for 1-2 mins.
- Remove from processor bowl, set aside in a small bowl. Add almonds to food processor and process for 1 min.
- Add almond mixture to date/banana paste and blend well with hands. Divide into 2 halves.
- Set each half on a piece of saran wrap. Fold wrap over each piece and roll flat with a rolling pin or soup can. Shape to your liking. Makes 2 bars.
Nutrition info: Each bar has approximately 230 calories, 5 grams of protein and 2.5 grams of fiber.
The Whole-Grain Whole Meal
From Wellsphere, this recipe allows for your own improvisations. Hate raisins but love dried apricots? Prefer Rice Crispies to Kashi? Customize to your heart’s desire:
3 cups puffed whole grain cereal (e.g., puffed wheat or Kashi)
1/2 cup chopped nuts or seeds (or a combination)
1/2 (or up to 3/4) cup chopped dried fruit (one fruit, or a combination)
3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/3 cup creamy nut or seed butter (e.g. peanut, cashew, almond, soy; natural style is fine)
1/2 cup honey (or brown rice syrup, light molasses, sorghum, or maple syrup)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×9-inch square metal baking pan foil; spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl mix the cereal, nuts, dried fruit and (optional) flaxseed; set aside.
- Place the nut butter and honey in small heavy saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly for about 1 minute until bubbly and smooth.
- Pour hot mixture over cereal mixture in bowl, stirring to blend (mix well to coat all of the cereal). Transfer mixture to prepared pan. Using a large square of wax paper or foil, firmly press mixture down into pan to firmly compact.
- Bake until just golden around edges, about 10 minutes. Cool completely. Remove bars using foil lines and cut into 16 bars or squares.
Nutrition per Serving (1 bar): Calories 121; Fat 6.0g (sat 0.8g, mono 1.8 g, poly 3.1g); Protein 3.2g; Cholesterol 0mg; Carbohydrate 16.3g; Sodium 28.2mg.
The No-Bake Piece-of-Cake Granola Bar
And if you really don’t have much time to bake (nor access to an oven), try these press-and-go babies from fANNEtastic food!
1 & 3/4 Cup rolled oats
1 C crisp puffed brown rice cereal
1/4 C pumpkin seeds
1/4 C sunflower seeds
1/4 C chia seeds
1/4 C unsweetened coconut
1/8 C finely ground flaxseed
1/2 C brown rice syrup
1/3 C creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Add all the dry ingredients to a large bowl. Mix them together.
- In a separate (microwave safe) bowl, mix together the wet ingredients, then microwave them for about 20 to 30 seconds.
- Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix! Keep mixing until the wet binding ingredients are as well distributed as possible.
- Put the mixture into a shallow pan and flatten it down.
- Cut them into about 10 to 12 bars and store them in the fridge to bind them.
(Nutritional info N/A)