Homemade energy bars pack power, flavor
These are far better than commercial ones made with preservatives, artificial sweeteners
Go-to treat: Once you get a feel for how these bars are made, you can start experimenting with your own combinations of fruits, nuts, and grains. You won't find bars this good at the store. (Emma Christensen/TMS)
Pour the syrup over the nuts and cereal. Stir with a heat-proof spoon until the dry ingredients are evenly coated. Scrape the mixture into the pan and pat it firmly into the corners. Bake for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the bars and bake for another 2 minutes. Spread the softened chocolate evenly over the top of the bars. Cool overnight. Refrigerate as necessary in warm weather to set the chocolate.
Remove the bars from the pan by lifting on the parchment. Cut into bars. Wrap each bar in wax paper or plastic. Store at room temperature for up to a week.
Chewy tropical fruit snack bars
Note: Halve the rice syrup in this recipe if you'd prefer crunchy bars.
Makes 8 large or 16 small bars
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1 1/2 cup high-fiber cereal mix (like Kashi Go-Lean)
1 1/2 cup crispy rice cereal
1/2 cup dried mango, chopped
1/2 cup dried pineapple, chopped
2/3 cup brown rice syrup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Heat the oven to 325 F. Line an 8- by 8-inch baking pan with parchment so the ends hang over the sides of the pan. A little cooking spray helps hold the parchment in place.
Combine the coconut flakes and cereal mix on a baking sheet. Toast until the coconut turns golden, 8-10 minutes. Combine the coconut, cereals and dried fruit in a large mixing bowl.
Combine the rice syrup, brown sugar, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the syrup loosens to a pourable consistency and bubbles appear on the surface, 4-5 minutes.
Pour the syrup over the nuts and cereal. Stir with a heatproof spoon until the dry ingredients are evenly coated. Scrape the mixture into the pan and pat it firmly into the corners. Bake for 5 minutes. Cool overnight.