Homemade Energy Bars III: Peanut Ginger Squares

It seemed fitting that the day after completing my first triathlon, while nursing the pleasant soreness of limbs pushed to their limits, that I should post another recipe in my Homemade Energy Bars series. The balls and chews I’ve already featured seemed to go over well, and so I bring you another fantastic, real food version of those tempting health food store snacks. So here’s another no-bake treat, one as simple as bonding for 5 minutes with your food processor (or, as in my case, your hand-blender-with-fortunate-attachment).

I’m not really one for the energy goos and gels. Preferring instead the taste and texture of real food, I tend to pack my workout bag with things of the grainy-granola variety, as opposed to packages full of something resembling McDonalds’ birthday cake icing. However, even with these proclivities, during my race yesterday I did pound back a pack of Chocolate Outrage Guu midway through my 24 mile bike. With its quick delivery of energy with zero digestive problems, I will definitely lean on these in future race days. But for everyday use (training and running errands when it doesn’t matter if I have to stop for a bathroom break), these are much more satisfying.

Racing, whether in a 5k or an Ironman, peels back the layers of culture and associations that surround our eating and drinking. It strips food down to fuel, and liquid to its hydrating properties. It makes you aware of things most people don’t give 2 cents of their thoughts to, like sodium, carb and protein intake. In short, it can drive you crazy, thinking of your body as a machine to be tweaked and oiled.

Training for that compulsive finish line is a trial of mind and body. It is an ever-building procession of cells and attitudes and obsessions that carry you into the days ahead. As I stood there in the water my mind went strangely blank, and I felt my animal nature rise beneath my skin. For just shy of three hours, my tastes, memories and to-do lists were buried under the power of being that well-fueled machine. I was muscle and sinew and units of energy, and it felt truly euphoric.

If you are sick of seeing plates full of nothing but novelty, reward or diet-induced contraband, go and register for a race. Suddenly everything you eat and drink will feel more plump, juicy and satisfying. Like an intravenous running from the earth straight into your blood stream, you will feel miraculously connected and newly powerful.

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Homemade Energy Bars II: Walamee Balls

I really like making up names for the stuff I bake, kind of like Grandpa did. It’s not that any of them stick as well, but I try. I guess it kind of feels like branding, like I could develop a cute package and commercial to go along with them. But that would defeat the purpose, really.

With my my latest concoction in the energy snack series combining walnuts and sesame seeds, I came up with the name walamee balls, or bars, or just walamees. I think it sounds pleasantly Australian. Exotic, despite its everyday ingredients.

Many of you seemed to enjoy the Whole Grain Chews I posted a few weeks ago. So just for you, I quickly got to work on another seedy snack, similarly chewy but different in style. A sweet and nutty combination of raisins, dates, sesame seeds and walnuts, these little packages deliver a healthy hit of energy-boosting carbs and muscle-building protein in about 1.5 “round” inches. Throw them in your bike bag or backpack for when those blood sugar levels start to get low.

Making your own snacks–a food group we’ve wholly handed to big companies–can be incredibly satisfying. Not only do these snacks take minutes to prepare, you can practically do them in your sleep. They also save on packaging and transportation (yay Earth!) and are composed of whole, natural ingredients (yay Bodies!) So next time you’re cruising down the Power Bar aisle, don’t be fooled by the healthy bodies on the packaging. You deserve better.

So grab your food processor (or a friend’s or grandmother’s), some basic ingredients, and a couple of well-scrubbed kids, and get rolling! These handy snacks keep marvelously–on the counter or in the fridge where they’ll be even more refreshingly cool.

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