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Favorite Power or Protein Bars

You can also check Ellen's discussion of power bars or a collection of other popular home recipes for energy bars.

Ellen's Hunky Monkey Vegan Breakfast in Hand- a 40-30-30 zone food

By: Ellen's Kitchen
3 cups rolled oats
3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
1 cup trader joe soy protein
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fructose
1/2 cup pecans or sunflower seeds chopped
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup chopped dried fruit or raisins
1/2 cup water or apple juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour, oat or rice flour; as needed to thicken
1 cup or more additional liquid to achieve texture (varies, depending on additions)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease a cookie sheet.

Mix everything but the flour, let it sit a few minutes, then beat with a fork until it begins to thicken. Add enough liquid or flour to make a stiff dough.

Roll or pat out on the cookie sheet, about 1/4 inch thick, cut 20 pieces. Cut with cookie cutter or roll out a rectangle on a greased cookie sheet and separate into 4x5 rectangles for 20 biscuits or bars.

Bake 12 minutes.

The apple juice adds additional carbs, but nice flavor, and some folks enjoy a little cinnamon. If you are NOT vegan, you can beat in some eggs and reduce the water or apple juice for a little better texture and protein.

Originally published in Bicycling Magazine, now all over the net, but a mighty fine bar/ball, from Joseph Banks.

Bank Balls

Tasty Homemade Version of Commercial Athletic Snacks

  • 24 dried figs
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 4 tbsp. orange juice
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/4 cup dark corn syrup
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup oat bran
  • 1-2 cups vanilla whey powder or soy protein powder (Ellen's addition)(too much will make a gluey texture)

Add figs, honey, orange juice, and 2 tbsp. lemon juice to food processor and mix on "chop" setting until fig bits are finely cut. Set aside.

Put all other ingredients (except oat bran) in mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer for 3-4 minutes at medium speed. If using the whey/protein powder, reduce flour by 1/2 cup. Add fig mixture and beat until everything blends- the texture is something like playdough. Roll 20-24 balls (about golf ball size)and coat with oat bran poured on a plate.

Place balls on pan and bake at 350° for 10 minutes, or until they are warm and a bit puffy. Place in refrigerator to harden. For a crunchier texture, bake 2-5 minutes longer, or until dough is thoroughly cooked.

Ellen says: You can substitute dates for figs, and this lowers potassium. To increase protein in this recipe so it can be used for a breakfast bar, take out 1 cup wheat flour and add 1/2 cup soy protein isolate, 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ and 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten; this is apart from the extra whey or protein powder you may have added. Bake the higher protein ball the extra 5 minutes to cook the gluten.

Joe Banks said, "Things change when you leave college. Take cycling,for instance. As a member of the University of Michigan team, I rode without having to buy energy bars for training and racing. A sponsor supplied all I could eat, and I ate a lot. Then came graduation, and suddenly I had to cover my own bar bill. To maintain my normal dosage, it would cost about $750 per season--or enough to grab a good deal on a new pro frame.

"Since I couldn't get a student loan, I studied the market to see if switching from my favorite bar to a budget brand might help. It could, but saving $35 won't fund much of a frame. The only solution was to forgo the convenience and proven effectiveness of commercial bars and create a homemade version.

"I took the challenge to Rodale Press nutritionist Anita Hirsch, RD., who determined that we could approximate the recipe of a typical energy bar by using products from any health-food store. She combined these ingredients, seeking a healthful mix of carbohydrate, protein, and fat (see chart below), and experimented until we produced something that tasted good. She made sure to include nutrients important during cycling, such as potassium (which helps control your body's fluid balance and heartbeat), thiamin (carbohydrate metabolism), niacin (energy production and metabolism of B vitamins that help the energy process)--all from natural sources.

"Hirsch also balanced complex carbohydrates, which slowly converts to blood sugar, with simple carbo that quickly provides energy. Finally, she tested several versions to find one that wouldn't turn to soup on a 90-degree day or break teeth in cold weather.

"The result is a fig-based energy food, which, for lack of a snappy commercial name, we call Bank Balls. We roll them in into this shape to avoid having to spread the mix on a tray and cut it into rectangles. These balls have been my only snack during 1,200 miles of riding in the last 2 months.They're about the size of a golf ball. I eat one a quarter of the way through a ride, and another during the last quarter. When carried in sandwich bags, they remain moist and tasty on rides as long as 90 miles. (I store them in the refrigerator at home to maintain freshness.) I haven't had any digestive problems or noticed any decrease in energy.

"I have noticed a difference in my bank account, though. Each batch of 24 balls costs $4.17 to make, or about 17¢ apiece. This means that my average year's supply would cost only $95.
The downside, of course, is the hassle of making them. With shopping, preparation, cooking, rolling, storage, and cleaning, I spend about 2 hours producing each batch. That's about 5 minutes per ball, compared to simply reaching into a box to grab a commercial bar each time I need one.

"There are other disadvantages, too. Because of the low cost, I tend to eat more. Hirsch warns that overindulging could cause an upset stomach because of the high fiber content. And Bank Balls haven't been scientifically finessed to guarantee the speediest carbo-to-energy conversion or capitalize on the latest theories about ergogenic aids. They're a basic, dependable snack, not a cutting-edge foodstuff.

"Bank Balls may never replace your beloved bar as they have for me, but give them a try. At worst, you'll trash your kitchen and realize that the convenience of commercial bars is worth paying for. At best, you'll be buying that new frameset or other expensive goodie at the end of the year--and still riding strong.

Bank Ball (72g) $0.17 44 1 4 191
Banana (large) $0.21 30 0.6 1 118
Energy Bar (67g) $1.69 40 1 10 225