Nothing beats a chocolate chip cookie to satisfy a sweet tooth, make you feel like a kid again, and generally make the world a brighter, happier place. These amazing cookies do all of that and then some: high in protein and fiber, sugar-free (save for a small smattering of miniature chocolate chips), easy on the wallet, and a quick-as-a-jiffy assembly to boot. If the thought of chocolate chip cookies made from canned beans still sounds wrong to you, I promise after one or two cookies, you’ll agree that it’s completely right.
Copious amounts of kale were sacrificed in my pursuit of a kale energy bar. On my umpteenth attempt at puréeing the leaves into gooey-green glue, inspiration struck: why not incorporate the kale in crispy kale-chip form? It only took one batch to know I had a winner. The trick to getting great bars is to make sure that the kale is super-crisp, which is a cinch so long as you dry the leaves thoroughly — I’m talking layers of clean dish towels or many turns in the salad spinner, a mere minute or two of effort, before baking. If water remains on the leaves, the kale will steam, not crisp. I don’t know about you, but the prospect of steamed kale bars doesn’t do it for me. But crispy, toasted seed-enhanced bars? Yes and yes.
Middle Eastern and European sweets made from nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and a sweet syrup binding — such as gozinaki in Georgia and pasteli in Greece — have been around for centuries. Here, the essential idea ﬁnds new life as an uncomplicated, nourishing energy bar. Before you start making plans to substitute your favorite brand of agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup for the speciﬁed syrups, hear me out: it will not work. Instead of a stack of bars, you will have a pile of crumbles. I could go into a lengthy chemical discussion about the structure and properties of various sugars, but I won’t (which will simultaneously disappoint my retired chemist father, but please my editor). Just trust me on this one and I know you will be thrilled with your results.
Those who know and love me will tell you I am very frugal (except they would likely select a less-flattering adjective). I prefer to say that I am careful with my spending, especially when it comes to food shopping. I tell you this because I am not the person at the health food store throwing every new superfood into my hand-basket with nary a thought of price; rather, I’m the woman making a beeline to the bulk goods and comparing the price per ounce on every item. So when I do recommend a particular superfood-splurge, it’s because I think it’s truly worth it. Case in point, goji berries. Goji berries are bright orange-red berries that come from a shrub that’s native to China and they have a unique taste akin to dried cherries and cranberries. A lot of nutrition gets packed into a single berry, including powerful antioxidants, 18 different amino acids, and up to 21 trace minerals, including zinc, iron, copper, and calcium.
Few people have survived on a tiny tropical island by eating muesli, but I am one such person. To make a long story short, there was a dreadful "resort" that featured two breakfast items: leaden German pancakes and muesli. Lunch was not served at all, and with no stores on the island, I would down three bowls of muesli every morning. Here, I’ve created a portable version of my favorite mélange.
If nutty, crunchy, crispiness is your idea of the perfect pick-me-up, I’ve got just what the doctor ordered. That’s right, the doctor ordered power bars. The brown crisp rice base renders the bars light and crisp, while the additions of oats and protein power lend enough substance to stave off hunger for hours. Nut (or seed) butter adds depth and subtle natural sweetness, and of course a thin schmear of white chocolate, dark chocolate, or Greek yogurt coating tops things off in the most delicious way (you could leave it off...but why?).
These protein "truffles" are so ridiculously easy that I feel somewhat silly adding them to this collection. Then again, my super-simple, silly recipes are often my most popular. They are certainly favorites in my repertoire, in large part because of their fast factor, but also because of their portability and candy-like appeal. Plus, they are endlessly customizable by varying the spices, extracts, and other add-ins, or by giving them a chic coating of chia seeds, cocoa powder, or chopped nuts. Who says pretty and power can’t go together?
Crisp-chewy, scented with maple, and studded with dried fruit and grains, there is so much to love about these bars. Dried fruit is a great source of concentrated energy, and, along with the oats and multigrain cereal, is an excellent source of fiber. The protein from the oats, milk, nuts, and nut butter is not too shabby, either. Heed my advice and declare any time of the day morning-time.
Pumpkin has a wealth of powerful antioxidants known as carotenoids, organic pigments that have the potential to ward off various types of cancer and heart disease, along with cataracts and macular degeneration. But what else can pumpkin do for power bars? How about add richness, deep flavor, and moisture, with a minimum of calories and no fat. If you want to up the pumpkin ante further, sprinkle the bars with pepitas (green pumpkin seeds). They add great crunch, color, and nutty flavor, as well as protein.