(Seven-Ingredient Maple Energy Bars)
Prep Time: 20 minutes; Bake/Chill Time: 1 hour.
Let’s talk about Marc Johnson.
How many other skateboarders can boast nineteen video parts (and counting) over their careers? How many of them can put out a three-song part that not only avoids the potential death trap of being boring, but is well-crafted and revolutionary enough to bring the end of Lakai’s first full-length video—featuring a comeback from skateboarding’s prodigal son, Guy Mariano—to an earth-shattering crescendo? How many other skateboarders have a sponsor me tape from the early 90s that can resurface in 2015 and immediately go viral? It’s no surprise that skateboarding’s equivalent of basketball’s MJ is, well, MJ.
And I’m dead serious about the sponsor me tape. If you haven’t watched it, do yourself a favor and watch it now:
I won’t try to recap all of the Nine Club episode because (1) it was incredibly comprehensive, and (2) listening to it in MJ’s enticingly crazy words is far more entertaining. However, I do want to pay homage to his part in Maple’s video Seven Steps to Heaven (1996).
Marc’s Seven Steps to Heaven part (below) is really a testament to the fact that he can do it all. Mind-bogglingly tech, but with an appetite for stairs and rails, Marc cuts down everything in his path. The dude is an abundant source of energy, wizardry and humor, as evidenced by an almost six minute part followed by Marc, naked in a kitchen, covered from head to toe in shaving cream, emphatically shaking his package (for that backstory, watch his Nine Club episode).
After listening to MJ’s episode a couple of months ago, I was inspired to do a recipe that would match his quirkiness and would also embrace his simplicity and his profound, understated genius (yes, I say that without any reservation). Much like he has made it a goal to cut out unnecessary complexities in his life, I wanted a recipe that embraced as few ingredients as possible while providing plenty of pre-session carbs and protein.
Though I’ve started weaning off energy/protein bars that I don’t make myself, one of my former favorites before I went vegan was the RXBar. They’re delicious, have pretty solid macros, and have very few ingredients. After some experimenting, I decided to craft an homage to Maple’s Seven Steps to Heaven by making seven-ingredient maple energy bars (with one bonus ingredient discussed below). I present to you: Maple: Seven Steps to Heaven(ly) Energy Bars.
Like the RXBar, these are date-based, which means there are no added sugars and they’re loaded with potassium (medjool dates have more potassium by weight than bananas), which is an essential electrolyte to keep your body functioning during those long skate sessions. Additionally, instead of egg protein, these contain hemp protein, which is cheap, high in fiber and omega-3s and hosts a complete set of amino acids (i.e., a complete protein). With some peanuts and walnuts for healthy fats and some quinoa for a slower digesting carb that will keep you feeling fuller, these are delicious, simple and inexpensive (averaging the ingredients over time you’re looking at about $1.50 a bar, which is half the price of most energy bars).
However, honoring MJ’s energy didn’t feel like quite enough; while the bars try to mimic the energy of his skating, and the seven ingredients match the title of Maple’s video, I was looking for one extra ingredient to make this analogy complete: shaving cream. Ok, well, not shaving cream, but vegan whipped cream.
These bars are going to be a great source of lasting energy, so I recommend eating one before skating (or during, if you don’t mind it being a little pliable after being out of the fridge/freezer). That said, if you’ve just finished a night session and are looking for a healthier dessert that will also aid in post-skating recovery, some vegan whipped cream is the perfect way to add that final salute to MJ’s comedic genius and fully analogize these energy bars to Maple’s Seven Steps to Heaven, bewildering ending and all.
To quote MJ at the beginning of his Fully Flared part: welcome to flavor country.
- 1 cup pitted medjool dates (about 12 dates)
- ½ cup peanuts (can be salted or unsalted, roasted or raw)
- 1/3 cup quinoa (toasted)
- ½ cup hemp protein powder (unflavored)
- 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
- ½ tsp maple extract
- ¼ cup walnuts (crushed)
- vegan whipped cream (optional)
- Start by toasting the quinoa. Pour the 1/3 cup of quinoa into a small bowl and add in ½ cup of water. Mix it around for a few seconds to get the water to go below the surface and permeate the quinoa. After all the quinoa is wet (10-15 seconds), drain the excess water so all that’s left is wet quinoa. Heat up a small sauce pan (ungreased) on medium heat and add the quinoa. Toast for 4-5 minutes, stirring often, until the quinoa browns slightly and smells nutty. Remove from heat and save for later.
- Next, add the dates, peanuts and hemp protein powder to a food processor. Process intermittently at 15-20 second intervals for a total of 2-3 minutes or until the ingredients turn into a granular mixture of shredded date and peanut with hemp powder mixed in.
- Have the maple syrup, maple extract and a spare tablespoon of water ready to go. Start processing again; while this is processing, immediately add the maple syrup and maple extract. After about 10 seconds, the mixture should start to thicken and you will notice the food processor slow down a bit. If it does not thicken within 10-15 seconds, add the tablespoon of water and that should thicken it. Once it thickens, turn the food processor off so as not to damage the motor or blades.
- Now for the manual labor. Grease up your hands and the inside of a mixing bowl (I recommend using coconut oil) and transfer the date/peanut/hemp mix to the mixing bowl. You can do all this without oiling up your hands, but the mix will stick to the bowl and to your hands and will make it difficult. Add the quinoa to the bowl and start mixing it in manually until all the quinoa is evenly distributed in the date/peanut mix. Do the same with the crushed walnuts.
- Add the mix to a parchment-lined brownie pan and press it down until it fills the bottom of the pan. Flatten it out with your hands or with the greased flat-side of a spatula and then throw it in the freezer for an hour to chill and firm up. Take them out and slice into six delicious bars.
- These will last 4-5 days in the fridge if covered and will last longer in the freezer. You can keep them in the fridge, but if you want firmer, less sticky bars, I recommend keeping them in the freezer and thawing before eating if they’re too tough at first.
- Add some optional vegan whipped cream and complete the homage to Marc Johnson’s Seven Steps to Heaven part.Happy shredding,
- Yield: 6 bars. Per Bar: 320 calories, 9g fat, 45g carb, 14g protein.