Hiking, biking, climbing, skiing and snowshoeing. Busy schedules, after-school sports, low blood sugar and just not enough time to sit down for a meal. These are just some of the reasons to have a power bar close by.
The supermarket is flooded with choices, Grocery store power bars may have some good-for-you ingredients like oatmeal, raisins and dark chocolate, but they could be hiding some other ingredients that you may not want, like alkalized cocoa, hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils, barley malt, or fractionated palm kernel oil... the vegetable equivalent of wax.
Here in Bend, you can easily find locally made power bars that supply just what you need to replenish yourself after you hit the trail, ski the slopes or just plain run out of steam. Crunchy, chewy, nutty and sweet, these bars are made fresh almost daily.
Most locally made power bars start with relatively standard ingredients like oats, peanut butter, coconut and raisins. Some even include out-of-the box ingredients like quinoa, dates, flax and pumpkin seeds. Almost all are made sweet with turbino sugar, blackstrap molasses, natural honey, maple syrup or even blue agave nectar, a much better choice than processed white sugar or high-fructose corn sweetener.
On a recent trip to the Nordic Center at Mt. Bachelor I found myself in need of a snack after skate skiing and I picked up one of their house-made Nordic Bars. Peanut butter, oats, chocolate chips, dried blueberries, rice crispies, hazelnuts, flax seeds and molasses come together for a bar that is a chewy explosion of flavor and texture. Created by Mt. Bachelor's in-house pastry chef, the Nordic Bar as well as the Summit Express Bar, which is made with coconut, cranberries, chocolate chips, flax and sesame seeds, are also available at coffee kiosks in the West Village, Sunrise and Pine Marten lodges.
At Baked bakery, pastry chef Simone Morris-Martin creates owner Gordon Benzer's recipe for their three substantial house-made bars. The Hippie Bar is a crunchy-chewy combination of nuts, currants and dried figs held together by earthy dates and honey. They also have a cherry chocolate bar made by blending oatmeal, sliced almonds, dried cherries and chocolate chips as well as a tart cranberry walnut bar. Both these bars include all natural ingredients like brown sugar, European-style butter and local honey from DD Ranch in Terrebonne. The bakery's dried fruit and nuts come from GloryBee Foods in Eugene.
A few other places in town are selling similarly good-for-you bars. Check out Crow's Feet Commons, Devore's Good Food Store and Newport Avenue Market, where you can find KT's Energy bars made with gluten-free oats, almonds, raisins, coconut, maple syrup and natural vanilla. The LIV bar made in Salem boasts an ingredient list that includes quinoa, buckwheat, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, local honey, blackstrap molasses, sundried tomatoes, special seasonings, vanilla and...love!
If you're feeling creative, you can try your hand at making your own custom power bar at home. Add all your favorite ingredients along with healthy additions like flax meal or even protein powder. I made this almond-honey power bar with rolled oats, rice cereal, pumpkin seeds, dates and flax meal. By using Jem Chocolate's Coconut Cardamom Almond Butter, I added a delicious "chai" spice to my original and delicious homemade bars.
Powerbars were first created when NASA astronauts needed a hand-held, non-frozen, balanced energy snack in a "rod form" containing nutritionally balanced amounts of carbohydrate, fat and protein to eat while in outer space.
"Space Food Sticks" were created and promoted by the Pillsbury Company for their association with NASA's efforts to create safe, healthy and nutritional space food for astronauts. After all they needed something to eat along with their TANG...mmmmm, yum.
Cardamom Almond and Honey Power Bars
Makes 8 bars
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup rice cereal (such as rice crispies)
¼ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 tablespoon flax meal (or seeds)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/3 cup chopped pitted dates*
1/3 cup chopped golden raisins*
¼ cup Jem Chocolate Coconut Cardamom almond butter (sub any smooth almond butter)
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup honey
½ tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Coat an 8-inch square pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
3. Spread oats, almonds, pepitas, flax, and sesame seeds on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Bake until fragrant and lightly toasted, about 10 minutes.
4. Transfer to a large bowl and add cereal, dates and raisins.
5. Combine almond butter, brown sugar and honey in a small saucepan. Heat over medium low, stirring frequently until mixture bubbles, about two to five minutes.
6. Remove from heat and add vanilla and salt.
7. Immediately pour the almond butter mixture over the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula until no dry spots remain.
8. Transfer to prepared pan. Spray hands with non-stick spray and gently press the mixture down firmly. Chill and cut into bars.
9. Individually wrap your bars in plastic wrap and keep in an airtight container for up to one week.
* A great tip: Spray knife blade with non-stick spray before cutting dates and raisins to prevent them from sticking to your knife.
Lisa Glickman is a professional private chef, teacher and writer. She can be reached at