Chocolate Energy Bars

One thing I am always in search of is a good energy bar.  After so many years of trail time, my husband and I have had our fill of the packaged energy/protein/power bar.  We are always on the hunt for new recipes for homemade bars packing some sort of super-nutrient punch.  My most cherished cookbook is Superfood Cuisine by Julie Morris (her most recent edition is titled Superfood Kitchen).  It definitely holds a prized position in this kitchen!  Her recipes are naturally delicious and super-packed with superfood goodness.  Not to mention, they are oh-so-beautiful! 

Today I had a hankering for some of her Chocolate Energy Bars.  They are perfect for a long day on the trail or a day at the crags.  Make them into mini bites and they are just the sweet thing to top off a healthy lunch during a long work day or a little pick-me-up any old time.  These bars are so yummy, even my hubby made them and posted a blog entry about it! (see his post here)  Now that's sayin' something.  I thought I might need a little bit of this goodness for the upcoming week.

I love recipes like this because you can easily tailor it to your own taste.  Don't like almonds?  Use walnuts.  Don't have maca?  Leave it out.  Choose your favorite nuts, seeds, dried fruit and make it your own.  Julie's recipes are great that way!  Let's start with the basics:

1 1/2 cups Medjool dates, pits removed (about 16 depending on how moist they are)
1/4 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup raw cashews
1/4 cacao powder
3 tablespoons cacao nibs
6 tablespoons hemp seeds
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 teaspoons maca powder
1 teaspoon mesquite powder (optional, but it enhances the flavor)
2 tablespoons or your favorite raw nuts and/or seeds
1/4 cup or your favorite dried fruit

O.K.  Let's gather the essentials:

Dates, almonds, cashews, goji berries, goldenberries (my personal favorites in the dried fruit category), cacao powder and cacao nibs.

Sure, if you don't have cacao powder, you could use the traditional processed cocoa powder.  But, just so you know: "Cacao is one of the most antioxidant-rich foods in the world" (Julie Morris, Superfood Cuisine).  In fact, it is one of the most antioxidant-rich foods ever tested.  Cocoa is great, but it is highly processed, therefore lacking many of the healthy benefits of cacao.  And then there are the nibs...wowzer!  Talk about going to the source.  They are the crumbled up beans that come straight from the cacao tree.  A handful of these guys will certainly lift your spirits and get you to the summit. 

And now let's gather the superseeds, maca powder and mesquite.  Hemp and chia seeds are superfood staples.  According to Julie Morris, "Hemp's high saturation of protein is of a premium quality, as well - an easily digestible, plant-based, complete protein boasting all essential amino acids.  Hemp also offers a wide range of minerals, especially iron, potassium, zinc and magnesium.  Better still, hemp is an excellent source of fiber..." 

Then there's chia seed.  Much like flaxseed, chia is a great source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids.  However, chia seeds are also high in antioxidants, a source of easily digestible protein as well as important minerals, like calcium and iron.  Not to mention the fiber.  These guys are a great addition to just about any recipe!

Now that we've got our ingredients lined up, it's just a matter of grinding them up in the food processor.  Put all the ingredients in the food processor, except for the last 2 tablespoons of nuts and/or seeds and 1/4 cup of your dried fruit faves.  Grind 'em up until a course dough has formed.  Check the consistency.  If you pinch a bit of the dough and it doesn't stick together, add a tiny bit of water and blend again until a good "stickiness" level has been achieved.  Then add the last 2 tablespoons of nuts, seeds and dried fruit.  Pulse until coarsely chopped.

I like to line a bread pan with parchment paper and firmly press the dough into the pan.  Alternatively, you can place the dough on a piece of plastic wrap, form it into a rectangle shape, tightly wrap the sides of the plastic over the dough, press, shape and compact it into a 1-inch thick rectangle.  Place it in the fridge to cool for a bit, then cut it into bars.  Or, for a mini bit of pick-me-up, pack some little bites of chocolate energy in your lunchbox!


Now wrap 'em up for packing or sharing.  A wonderfully delicious, nutritious, superfood-packed treat for the trail or to share with friends.  Share the love, share the solace.

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