A recipe for easy energy bars packed with chia seeds, dried tart cherries, dark chocolate, nut butters, and oats for a quick snack to keep you going.
Each morning begins the same. Pushing back the down comforter that radiates warmth, I face the cold winter light and slip my feet into woolen socks and slippers. Wrapping myself in a thick sweater, I head towards the kitchen. As water for coffee starts to warm, the butter hits the pan, melting instantly on the warming metal. A light tapping against the stovetop sends a soft crackle through the air and the eggs drop softly, sizzling as they meet the hot surface.
While breakfast cooks, I stare into the contents of my refrigerator and tick off the revolving list of lunch items that could be packed in their boxes. With four lunches to prepare each morning, the contents ever changing, it is easy to fall into a rut, especially in the winter months when the market is shuttered, its bountiful stalls not overflowing with lunchtime inspiration until spring.
Even when I’ve packed the lunchbox with the necessary items – grain, protein, dairy, fruit, vegetable – I still sometimes struggle with that final piece of the puzzle: the midday snack. Eaten at their desks, I need something that will carry them through their class work and morning schedule until the lunch bell rings. It needs to be packed with goodness but also entice them to consume it in the midst of friends and distractions.
My standby for the last two years in this space has been homemade trail mix: seeds, dried fruit, a bit of chocolate every now and then, coconut flakes. I keep the ingredients on hand, and I mix it together as I need it, pouring off small portions into small tins and silicone sleeves. Regardless of the activity – school, snowboarding, swimming – this has become my crutch that I lean hard on when I need a quick fix to go.
Sure, I have wonderful intentions of baking up a few granola bars, of tossing together a tiny cooler filled with yogurt and other snacks, but when it really comes down to it, in the midst of everything else going on, I need something that’s quick to fix and easy to have ready to grab and go and pack a punch.
Chia seeds have been an “it” food for a while, with everyone lauding their ability to boost energy, provide minerals like iron, omega-3s, help stabilize blood sugar, and more. They find a home here with rolled oats, dried tart cherries, dark chocolate, raw pumpkin seeds, and a binder of honey and peanut butter (or any other nut/seed butter to make them school-friendly). Whipped together in a matter of minutes, these keep in the refrigerator and are easy to grab as you head out the door. Add a banana or a Clementine, and you’re set for a few hours of snowboarding, a hike through the woods, to make it through a long day at a swim meet, or simply for an everyday school snack.
Dark Chocolate Cherry and Chia Energy Bars
- 2 cups rolled oats
- ½ cup chia seeds
- ¼ cup chopped dark chocolate
- ¼ cup raw pepitas
- 1 cup peanut butter, sunflower seed butter, or other nut butter
- ½ cup honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup dried tart cherries
- In a large bowl, mix together the oats, chia seeds, dark chocolate, and pepitas. Stir to combine.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the nut/seed butter, honey, vanilla, and the salt. Stir until smooth. Pour the butter and honey mixture over the oat mix and stir until evenly coated. Then stir in the cherries.
- On a baking sheet using a 2-3" cookie cutter, press the energy bar mix into the cutter and press firmly. Continue until the mixture is gone.
- Place the energy bars in the refrigerator until firm and then transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
Adam’s Natural Peanut Butter has teamed up with the National Parks Conservation Association to encourage you to make a difference and stay active. Simple snacks like these energy bars are part of that, making winter outdoor activities easy and enjoyable.
Disclosure: The Adams and JM Smucker brands provided me with a gift pack as part of this campaign.