(Chia bars with dark chocolate, coconut and almond butter)
Prep time: 10 minutes. Bake time: 15 minutes (allow one hour to cool).
I really am sorry about the pun, but I’ve been waiting to use that for a long time. I promise I won’t always use such terrible puns in my recipes, but you just don’t leave that kind of gold on the table, especially if it can be used in your inaugural post. If you haven’t seen “The Search for Animal Chin,” do yourself a favor and go watch it. For those who don’t know, it was a Bones Brigade video that came out in 1987 that centered around the Bones team (then consisting of rippers like Hawk, Cab, and Guerrero, to name a few) traversing skate spots around the U.S. in search of the wise “Animal Chin,” the alleged creator of skateboarding.
For your nostalgic pleasure:
As an aging bag of meat (I’m turning 30 this week) looking to optimize my weekend skate sessions, I was searching for the right kind of energy bar that (1) would fill me up; (2) would give me both quick and sustained energy; (3) would have a solid ratio of carbs, fats and proteins; (4) would have ingredients I can pronounce and identify; and, perhaps most importantly, (5) wouldn’t taste like the razor-tailed deck under my feet. Much like the Bones team spent weeks searching for the wise, ancient Animal Chin, I spent my weekends searching for a (snack-)wise, ancient (grain) energy bar. After pondering this conundrum for a few months, I decided that it was time for me to start making my own energy bars. Enter The Search For Animal Chia Bars.
From a high-level view, these bars have (1) a host of simple and complex carbs to give you that initial boost and keep you sustained for a few hours; (2) a sufficient ratio of healthy fats to keep you feeling satiated; and (3) some extra protein to help your muscles recover and rebuild. As an added bonus, they’re just the right balance of sweet and savory and unbelievably easy to make in bulk and store in the fridge for later sessions (seriously, I made way too many on my first batch and stored them for weeks).
The operative ingredients here are going to be the chia, quinoa and oats (but the almond butter, coconut and dark chocolate will add a moistness that will turn those crunchy grains into delectable, chewy energy bars). Here’s what you’re getting with these power grains:
Oats: You know what oats are, so I won’t waste your time here. Just know that quick/instant oats (as opposed to rolled or steel cut) are “fast” carbs and will provide you with the quick energy you need to start your sesh off with a bang.
Chia Seeds: these seeds are not only packed with omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, iron and calcium, but they are also a complete source of protein as well (meaning they contain all the essential amino acids found in animal proteins). As an added bonus, chia seeds “gel” in your stomach, which helps you feel fuller and slows down the rate at which your body turn carbs into sugar.
Quinoa: quinoa is another ancient grain that is high in iron, B-vitamins and fiber, as well as a complete source of protein. The protein:carb ratio in quinoa makes it ideal for those longer skate sessions.
Add in the ground flax seed, dark chocolate, coconut and almond butter, and you’ve got a fully charged battery first thing in the morning.
Without further ado, let’s get cooking.
- 1 cup of oats (quick cook oats will work fine)
- ½ cup of dry quinoa (I use tri-color quinoa, but white quinoa will work just the same)
- ½ cup of whole chia seeds
- 2 tbsp of ground flax seed
- ¼ teaspoon of sea salt
- ½ cup of shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
- ½ cup of almonds (chopped, crushed or diced)
- ½ cup of (vegan) dark chocolate morsels
- ¼ cup + 2 tbsp of agave syrup
- ½ cup of creamy almond butter
“But wait,” you say, “I don’t like coconut!” If coconut isn’t your thing, feel free to substitute another dried fruit instead (dried cherries would work well). Any dried fruit should keep the bars moist and composed, but you’ll be trading off some of the fat in coconut for more carbs in other dried fruits. Additionally, if almond butter isn’t your thing, or you want to save a couple of bucks, regular creamy peanut butter will work just as well. Lastly, I have seen granola bar recipes use a mixture of rice syrup and honey for the wet ingredients. In the vein of making it easier to find things at the grocery store and being truly vegan, I sub agave for both, but feel free to play around here if you want to try a different sweetness.
This is a good inaugural recipe because baking these could not be any easier.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. While that’s preheating, pour all of the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir them up so that all the ingredients are evenly disbursed. There’s no specific order to adding them, just mix them up like an indiscriminate “friends” section in the middle of a Zero video.
- In a separate mixing bowl, mix the wet ingredients and stir until you get a syrupy-almond butter mix. Microwave the mix of wet ingredients for one minute, then pour the mixture into the dry ingredients and stir it up so that it’s evenly mixed. Once the wet ingredients start to cool off, you may want to get a little more tactile and use your hands, as it will be more difficult to stir.
- Pat the mix down into a parchment-lined 8 x 8 baking pan so that it’s evenly spread to the edges and relatively compact (make sure you use parchment paper, otherwise you’re looking at sticky mess stuck to the bottom of the pan). Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the quinoa and oats look just slightly toasted. Take the pan out of the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before throwing it into the fridge for an hour (if you cut it up before cooling it, the bars won’t stay together as well, but on the plus side, crumbled chia bars make a great cereal mixed with cashew milk).
- Take it out of the fridge, cut into 12 bars, then go shred for days.
Makes 12 bars; 1 bar (50g) = 280 calories, 15g fat, 30g carb, 8g protein
Let me know your thoughts!