Gels, bars, gummies, powdered mixes… One thing that makes running awesome is that we are unique in how we coach ourselves, select our own gear, and feed ourselves. Especially how we feed ourselves. I’ve sat in talks with runners who claim to do 100-milers on gels alone, and I’ve met folks that can survive an entire ultra on nothing but Tailwind. Myself, I keep it natural. My body is optimized to digest food, and it’s what it craves, whether I’m sitting at home, or going hard out on the trail. So come race time, my pack can have anything from wrapped up banana oat pancakes, puffed quinoa peanut butter balls, red bean brownies, or my go-to oatmeal bars adapted from minimalistbaker.com.
These oatmeal energy bars are my very favorite because they’re basically a base recipe that is sticky and hardy enough to hold what ever material I’m craving that day. Be it chunks of dark chocolate, chopped nuts and seeds, dried fruit, banana chips or even candy.
And even if they do taste fantastic, fret not; the basis of this recipe is SEEDS. The powerhouse of the plant-based world, punching above its weight class in every category. Some of my favorite seeds to add:
- Flax seeds: high in fiber, protein, magnesium, b-vitamins and healthy fats such as omega 3s.
- Sunflower seeds: rich in magnesium, vitamin E and selenium to help protect our bodies from the damage we put them through.
- Hemp seeds: complete with all 19 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein, and tons of omega 3s and 6s to boot
- Chia seeds: Of course from Runivore, which are loaded with protein, fiber and even help regulate energy metabolism and heart health.
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (gluten free for GF eaters)
- 1/2 cup raw almonds, walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped
- 1 heaping packed cup (or ~75 grams) pitted dates
- 2 Tbsp Runivore chia seeds (more to coat the outside of the bar)
- 2 Tbsp sunflower seeds (roasted or raw)
- 2 Tbsp flax seeds
- 2 Tbsp hemp seeds
- 1/4 cup agave nectar, honey or maltose (I do combinations)
- 1/4 cup creamy salted natural peanut butter or almond butter, skippy is totally okay, too.
- Process dates in a food processor until small bits remain (about 1 minute). It should form a “dough” like consistency.
- Place oats, almonds and dates in a large mixing bowl. Add seeds and set aside.
- Warm sugars and peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir and pour over oat mixture and then mix, breaking up the dates to disperse throughout. Use a spoon or your hands to thoroughly mix.
- Transfer to an 8×8 dish or other small pan lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper so they lift out easily.
- Cover with parchment or plastic wrap and press down with something flat, such as a book (I have a hardcover Murakami book I like to use) to get them really packed tight. This will help them from being crumbly, so really stomp on them. Chill in the fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes to harden.
- Remove bars from dish and chop into bars. Store in an airtight container for up to a few days. I wrap a few in a plastic bag and put them right in the running pack. Bars found in the bottom of your bag a week later are still edible, just a little dry, as studies have proven.
*If your dates don’t feel sticky and moist, soak them in hot water for 10 minutes then drain before processing. This will help hold the bars together better.
Serving size: 1 bar Calories: 238 Fat: 9g, Saturated fat: 1.2g, Carbohydrates: 33.8g, Sugar: 19g, Sodium: 18mg, Fiber: 6.2g, Protein: 6.8g