May teases us with visions of summer and all the outdoor activities we dream of throughout the spring. With the outdoor activity increasing, grabbing a snack on the go becomes a necessity. Be prepared with a healthy, yummy, easily portable snack by making your own energy bars! It’s easier than you think, and can be easily adapted for any diet or taste. Throw in the fact that these are “no-bake” and you can turn the kids loose in the kitchen with this recipe. ***The difference between the granola bar and energy bar is the level of protein. The recipe as is makes a general granola bar…if you drop the honey down to 3 tablespoons and add almond or peanut butter, it moves to the energy bar category. Enjoy!! ~Debbie
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup steel-cut oats
1 cup rice cereal
¼ cup dried cherries, chopped*
¼ cup dried blueberries, chopped*
¼ cup chopped almonds (optional – can use any nut of your choice or omit altogether)
¼ cup pepitas/pumpkin seeds (optional – can use seed of choice or omit altogether)
¼ cup butter, melted
¼ cup honey, or to preference***
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup mini chocolate or butterscotch chips
optional variations: substitute ½ cup almond or peanut butter, plus 3 tbl honey in place of the ¼ cup honey to make an energy bar***
*use ½ cup of any dried fruit/s of your choice…the wonderful thing about homemade granola bars is you can put whatever you want in and leave whatever you don’t want out. Think about your family’s favorite dried fruits, seeds, nuts, cereals, grains, etc. and come up with your own variation. As long as you keep the right balance of wet/dry ingredients, there really are no rules!
Grease a 9×13 baking dish with olive oil, butter, or non-stick spray. In a large bowl mix the oats, cereal, dried fruit, seeds and nuts.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat; add the brown sugar, honey, and vanilla extract. ***If you like your bars a little drier, use less honey; if you like them chewier and “stickier”, increase the honey to your preference. (If you increase the amount of honey, I would still add it to the oat mixture slowly until you get the right balance…you can always add more, but you can’t take it out!) Whisk/stir until sugar is completely dissolved, about 2 minutes. Pour over the oat mixture; stir until completely coated/combined. If the mixture is too sticky/wet for your taste, add oats or rice until the desired consistency is reached.
Spread mixture into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle chocolate/butterscotch chips evenly over mixture; press into top to set. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. Cut into bars.
Fun Facts About Fitness
~ It takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile, so you are actually working your muscles harder to be grumpy instead of happy!
~ Your heart is the strongest muscle in your body.
~ The only exercise that requires you to hold your breath in order to do it is swimming underwater!
~ Dehydration causes a drop in exercise/performance, so be sure to hydrate before, during and after physical activity.
~ Your heart is about the size of your fist, and weighs nearly the same as a softball.
~ Your tongue is the only muscle in your body that is attached at just one end
~ Just being 25 pounds overweight creates almost 5,000 “extra” miles of blood vessels your heart has to pump blood through on a daily basis.
~ Over a lifetime the average person will walk approximately 70,000.
~ Approximately one-third of children aged 6-11 are overweight, and 15% are considered medically obese.
~ Actively playing with your kids or grandkids can burn as many calories as taking a brisk walk!
~ Exercise boosts brainpower! It increases energy levels and serotonin, which improves mental clarity.
~ Fitness builds family relationships. Realize the gift of exercising with a partner, whether it’s your child, a spouse, a sibling, or a close friend. Not only is it more fun to exercise with someone, it’s a great way to find special one-on-one time together!