As spring inches closer, it’s time to plan your attack on snacks. Here’s the golf scenario . . .
As you pull into the parking lot everything feels familiar.
The buzz of excitement, the smell of spring, the birds,
and best of all – the sunshine.
Then halfway around your round, it’s time for a snack. Grabbing a couple of energy bars from your bag, you read the ingredients.
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At first glance, the list seems healthy enough.
Whole grain rice crisps made with sugar.
You ask yourself, who at home bakes with honey, sugar, and a pre-sweetened ingredient?
And now you’re curious. How much sugar did I just eat?
Shifting toward the nutrition facts you notice,
Calories from fat: 130
Total fat: 22% of the daily value
Sugar 29g (that’s 7 teaspoons of sugar!)
Hopefully, by now, you’re wondering, is it that difficult to make my own?
As it turns out, making your own energy bars is easy.
How high energy bars became so popular
The idea of packaging high energy food in a wrapper came from our fascination with space.
And it happened as far back as the 1960s.
When astronauts in NASA’s space program travelled farther, they also needed meals.
They used U.S. Army issued ration packs but soon realized there had to be a better way. The first solution was with freeze-dried food.
Always looking for improvements, by 1973, NASA had announced their new high energy bar.
Together with Pillsbury, they had designed Space Food Sticks.
Astronauts chose between three types, chocolate chip, crispy, and flakey. The sticks also came in three different coatings: chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla.
When Space Food Sticks were made available to the consumer our fascination for snacks on-the-go began.
Pillsbury no longer makes Space Food Sticks but they are quick and easy to make.
With high-calorie content, these snacks are still popular with hikers and campers. They may not look appetizing, (which is why there’s no photo!) but they come with three huge benefits.
They are made ahead, do not have a lot of chemicals, and don’t need refrigeration.
Here’s the basic recipe if you see a space-based theme in your future.
Space Food Sticks
1c unsweetened crunchy peanut butter
1c milk powder
2T wheat germ
2T unflavoured gelatin
pinch of salt
Optional: raisins or granola
In a large bowl mix all ingredients until well blended.
Roll into bite-sized balls then unsweetened coconut, hemp seeds, or crushed cereal to stop from sticking.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
If preferred, before packing, wrap each ball in wax or baking paper.
Freeze-dried space food is popular today, especially as an unusual gift!
Frozen to -40 degrees F, real ice cream is then vacuum dried, removing almost all moisture.
Just like life though, there are pros and cons to everything. Freeze dried ice cream has a long shelf life (3 years) but is easily crushed to, a still delicious, powder.
Why making your own high energy bars is the best
The biggest reason for making your own low sugar, high fibre, high energy bars is the ability to substitute. And, you get to control how organic and clean you want to eat. You can work around any food sensitivity or dislike.
I am not a huge fan of some foods found in almost every commercial bar. Many have either flax, sesame or sunflower seeds, while others have peanuts and too much sugar for my taste buds. I love how these are customizable.
Simple and easy, make these bars to suit you, your family, and your golfing friends.
Don’t like the seeds in figs – chop up prunes!
Can’t eat sunflower seeds – add chia seeds!
Need to avoid peanuts – consider almonds!
Don’t need a lot of protein – skip the powder!
Not a fan of sweet food – add less!
High Energy Spicy Fruit and Nut Bars
2/3 c (100g) hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1 c almonds, roughly chopped
2/3 c unsweetened flaked coconut
2/3 c lightly salted pistachios
2/3 c cacao nibs
1/3 c raw hemp hearts
2/3 c dehydrated cherries,* roughly chopped
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground chilli
1/3 c orange marmalade, melted
1/3 c honey, melted
*I dehydrate cherries each season but you can also substitute with prunes, apricots, mango – just check the sugar content as some brands are higher than others.
I’ve also added my own dehydrated apple pieces, grapes, pineapple, and orange peel for variety.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees C
In a large bowl combine roughly chopped ingredients and ground spices.
Heat orange marmalade and honey in a microwave until liquid and add to the mixture.
Stir until well mixed.
Line a 10×16 tin tray with parchment paper and pour in the mixture.
With a spatula compress the mixture until level and firm. It should almost reach all edges of the pan.
Bake 30-40 mins at 325 degrees C
Cool for 10 minutes before carefully lifting out on to a rack. Cool a further hour before slicing (or breaking) into bars.
Store refrigerated in an airtight container.
I hope you will love making my high energy bars, and if you are nearby, let’s go hit some golf balls!
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Spicy High Energy Fruit and Nut Bars
- 2/3 c 100g hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 c almonds roughly chopped
- 2/3 c unsweetened flaked coconut
- 2/3 c lightly salted pistachios
- 2/3 c cacao nibs
- 1/3 c raw hemp hearts
- 2/3 c dehydrated cherries * roughly chopped
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground chilli
- 1/3 c orange marmalade melted
- 1/3 c honey melted
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees C
- In a large bowl combine roughly chopped ingredients and ground spices.
- Heat orange marmalade and honey in a microwave until liquid and add to the mixture.
- Stir until well mixed.
- Line a 10x16 tin tray with parchment paper and pour in the mixture.
- With a spatula compress the mixture until level and firm.
- It should almost reach all edges of the pan.
- Bake 30-40 mins at 325 degrees C.
- Cool for 10 minutes before carefully lifting out on to a rack.
- Cool a further hour before slicing (or breaking) into bars.
- Store refrigerated in an airtight container.
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum has more information about life as an astronaut.