Energy bars are one of the fastest growing segments of the health food industry. In 1998, sales for energy bars reached an estimated $500 million.
Homemade quick bars
Invented as a performance enhancer for elite athletes, the bars are also popular with weekend warriors, and with nonathletes as a snack.
Energy bars come in a variety of forms and sizes. A typical energy bar weighs about 2 ounces, has 200-300 calories, and is high in carbohydrate. Protein and fat content varies. Energy bars that are marketed to body builders can have up to 40 grams of protein per bar.
Many energy bars contain the equivalent of a multivitamin pill. Still others include ingredients like gingko and ginseng, although there is little evidence that these products provide a benefit when consumed before or during a workout.
Convenience is a big advantage of energy bars. Their cost, from $1 to $2 per bar, is probably the greatest drawback. You can make the nutritional equivalent of an energy bar for a fraction of the price. Many fruit breads, with minor modifications, can be baked, sliced, and frozen for ready-to-use energy bars. As an added bonus, freezing improves the texture of fruit breads.
Use fresh or frozen peaches in the following recipe if mangoes are not available.
Mango-Banana Bread Energy Bar4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1-1/2 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1 cup applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups mashed well-ripened bananas
2 cups diced mango
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of two loaf pans (8-1/2-by- 4-1/2-inch) with waxed paper.
Combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Mix together sugar, eggs, applesauce and vanilla. Blend in fruit.
Add wet ingredients to dry and blend for 3 to 5 minutes. Pour into pans. Bake 1 hour.
Cool on wire rack. When cool, slice and freeze individual slices. Makes 22 slices.
Approximate Nutritional Analysis per Slice: 200 calories, 1.5 g total fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 340 mg sodium, 4 g protein, 42 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber*
Apricot-Banana Bread Energy Bar2 cups dried apricots
2/3 cup golden raisins
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup applesauce
2 teaspoons canola oil
Soak apricots and raisins in hot water for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and dice apricots. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Cream together sugar, eggs, applesauce and oil. Add apricots and raisins; mix to evenly distribute.
Add wet ingredients to dry and blend until smooth. Divide among paper-lined muffin pans and bake 25 minutes. Or bake in a loaf pan for 1-1/4 hours and cut into 20 slices.
Approximate Nutritional Analysis per Muffin: 220 calories, 1.5 g total fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 280 mg sodium, 4 g protein, 48 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber.*
Barbara Burke is a Hawaii-Pacific University instructor who has been teaching
and writing about food and nutrition since 1975.
Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S., is a food and nutrition consultant
and owner of Exploring New Concepts, a nutritional consulting firm.
She is also responsible for the nutritional analyses
indicated by an asterisk in this section.