My hubby Ben’s new job [being the incredible Mr. Ben] keeps him – quite literally – on his toes all day. And although he’s meant to get short breaks for recess and lunch, there are often issues that arise that need to be dealt with instead [ahh the chaos of working with little ones with special needs].
Ben eats a good breakfast before he leaves for school at 7am, but if he misses his lunch opportunity, he’s often left hungry until his Educational Assistants check out at around 3pm. Lucky for him he loves sandwiches, because they’re easy to eat on the go and there’s often no time to warm anything up, but if he gets a hunger pang in the middle of the day, he’s out of luck.
The other night I asked what he’d eaten and he said all he was able to have after breakfast was a banana.
Here I am eating 5 meals a day and you haven’t eaten anything but a bowl of cereal and a banana all day?
I’m all about helping our future, but my hubby’s gotta get his nutrition in.
[Ben’s metabolism = Ridiculous.]
We talked that night about what would help keep him nourished throughout the day, even and especially when he doesn’t get a lunch break. He said it would help to have healthy snacks that he can grab on-the-go [you know, in between tracing little fingers and dealing with 7-year-old meltdowns].
My response: “I’m on it!”
We immediately re-stocked on local fruit [healthy, quick, easy; we really are so lucky to live in a place that allows us to eat incredible produce all year round], and I made a Ben-version of this Superfood Trail Mix (click for recipe), which pretty much just meant adding a few golden raisins and walnuts to the mix, since he’s not sensitive to the sugars in dried fruit and can probably use the extra calories and nutrients.
But what I was really excited for was getting in the kitchen and tinkering with some healthy energy bar recipes!
Ben and I have much different nutritional needs, based on both our genetics and our activity levels. While I lift weights and get in at least an hour of intense cardio per day, Ben stands up for most of the day with random spurts of sprinting [yes, they bolt sometimes]. And – as I mentioned – Ben’s metabolism is insane. Since I met him over six years ago, my body has waxed and waned, but his has always stayed the same… whether he ate bags of potato chips and fast food or a mostly-vegan diet.
So, while my body yearns for large amounts of protein and very little sugar/wheat, Ben’s body asks for:
- protein – to stay satisfied for more than half an hour
- good carbohydrates – the kind that sticks to your ribs and gives enough energy to keep up with children
- nutrient-dense fruits + veggies – got to make sure he’s getting the most bang for his buck!
Keeping the calorie-count down isn’t necessarily important because Ben is so active and burns everything off quickly.
With those criteria in mind, I set off to create a few different bars. This recipe is the first of three I’ll be sharing.
My recipe-creation process is really pretty interesting. I put on my apron, bump some music, place every mix-in option on the counter, and somehow proceed to use every bowl and appliance in our kitchen. Somewhere along the way I realize that I should have been keeping track of the amounts I’ve used and have to recreate a smaller batch to see if the ratios are correct [doh!]. I then taste-test and decide whether it’s worth eating and/or posting or not [you’d be surprised by how many recipes never make it to the blog].
Because Ben’s bars all include things I wouldn’t typically eat [namely sugar + wheat], I knew I couldn’t be taste-testing very much, and I decided that I would ask Ben to review them for you here on GPD…
Well this Bliss Bar I’m about to share was too irresistible. As I wrapped them up I decided to taste just a tiny corner… which somehow turned into half a bar! So rather than wait until Ben’s formal review, and I’ve decided to share it with you now, with my review.
[vegan, gluten- and refined- sugar free]
These bars are based off of my energy ball recipe, with added peanut butter and pieces of roasted almonds for more protein and healthy fats. While they have the same amount of sugar as the energy balls, they are rich and decadent, and will satisfy your need for something sweet! They. are. delicious.!
*Note: to keep this recipe raw, you can use raw cacao and omit the roasted almonds.
[ingredients] – use scant measurements
- 1 1/2 c raw almonds
- 1/4 c roasted almonds – loosely chopped
- ~10-12 medjool dates – pitted and halved
- 2 Tbsp peanut butter
- 3 Tbsp unsweetened cacao/cocao powder
- pinch of sea salt
In a processor, pulse raw almonds and cacao powder until the almonds become mealy [don’t worry about making them fine, just get it so that there are no more whole almonds].
Add in the dates, peanut butter and salt and process until everything is combined. You should be able to grab a handful and form it into a sticky ball. If it isn’t sticky enough, add another date or two to the mix.
Plop the mixture into a medium bowl and mix in the roasted almonds.
Now, you can make balls out of this or get a big sheet of saran wrap [maybe 18 to 24’’ long], line a pan…
Pour the mixture over one half of the plastic wrap… fold the other half over it, and press it into 1/2’’ bars.
[I’m using photos of an upcoming bar, but let’s pretend it’s our Bliss Bar, alright? ]
Place in the fridge for a couple of hours/overnight so that it firms up and becomes one big block…
Unwrap the block and cut into eight bars [or however many you decide you want].
Individually wrap them in plastic wrap, and store in the fridge or the freezer.
I’ve had to hide these from myself [yes, that’s possible] so that I don’t indulge too often, but if you don’t have an issue with dried fruit, they are a delicious and healthy alternative to store-bought bars!
Mr. Ben stashed one in his lunch bag today and I’m sure he’s feeling much more energetic!
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