Dr Smiter’s Turbo Energy Bars
I do a lot of spin classes and it’s sometimes a while before I get home afterwards & get a proper meal into me. A while ago I discovered that the little fruit stand near the gym sells little energy bar thingies (probably made in China & laced with caulking compound or something) and every so often I’d get one of those. They were tasty (caulking compound has a nice bite to it) and they tided me over till I got home (and by this I mean “kept me from killing passers-by in a hunger-induced homicidal rage”).
But they’re also expensive, as anyone who’s bought a similar thing from Starbucks or Timothy’s can attest. Seriously, three bucks for what looks like a handful of glued-together bird seed?
So, being the cheap bastard that I am, and also being a fearless cook from way back (I took Home Ec., boys and girls, and after a year with Mrs Crawford, trust me – nothing fazes me. NOTHING.)… anyway, I figured I could do these, and save myself some serious cash.
And here is the result.
A couple of notes before you start: First, I don’t want to hear about your food allergies or that you think [X ingredient] is icky. Dr Smiter seriously could not care less. If you don’t like or can’t/won’t eat the stuff in these, substitute your own stuff.
Second, don’t get all healthy-schmealthy with these things and try to use honey or maple syrup or whatever in place of the corn syrup. The corn syrup is what’s going to hold these things together as “bars” (see title) and there’s no way around that. Otherwise you’ll just have a big bowl of annoying, sticky seeds and fruit that not even the squirrels will touch.
These guys take about 45 minutes to make, from setting up to having your kitchen back the way it was before you started. They require no baking, but you will have to turn on the stove to boil the sugar and syrup. (Seriously, put the honey back on the shelf. What’s the matter with you, dammit?)
All set? OK, here we go.
You will need:
- A really big mixing bowl or even a giant cooking pot
- A small pot to boil the syrup
- The usual measuring cups, mixing spoons etc.
- A 9×13 pan, either buttered or lined with parchment or plastic wrap
- A bowl of tap water to wet your hands, for when you’re pressing the mixture into the pan
Ingredient-wise, you will need:
- 2 cups rolled oats (I used a bit less & added in some chia seeds for protein) (yeah, I know…a flaky friend of mine at work told me to buy some… shut up)
- 2 cups crispy rice cereal, corn flakes, or any other cereal you like (I had one of those little Kellogg Fun Paks on hand [don’t ask], so I used Rice Krispies & Frosted Flakes!) (again, shut up)
- 2 cups of any dried fruit you like: I used a combo of dried cranberries, chopped dates (hint: use scissors to cut them), and raisins. You can also use dried apricots, dried cherries, currants… whatever you like.
- 1 cup chopped nuts; again, any kind you like. I used almonds and those green “pepita” pumpkin seeds – not technically nuts but they’re pretty in this mix
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- A handful of chocolate chips or other sweeties for the nom-nom-nom factor
Syrup mixture (a.k.a. “The glue that holds this stuff together”)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup corn syrup (don’t make me come over there…)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup peanut butter (I heated this a bit in the microwave first – do this CAREFULLY and on “low”, as peanut butter heats fast!)
- Caulking compound (HA – just seeing if you were paying attention) (Seriously, do not put caulking compound in these. Can’t you take a joke??)
What you do:
- Have your pan ready to go and set close by. This is important.
- Bung all your dry ingredients into the big bowl. Mix them up really well.
- Mix the brown sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan. Place over medium heat (NOT high: sugar burns like *that*, man) and bring to a boil. When it’s boiling, stir it & let it boil for one minute. It will be kind of foamy. This is what you want.
- Remove pan from heat & quickly stir in the peanut butter & vanilla. This is gonna be sticky.
- Now REALLY QUICKLY pour the sugar/syrup/PB into the dry ingredients and start mixing. Make sure you work your spoon right down to the bottom of the bowl so all the dry bits are coated.
- Scoop mixture into the prepared pan and make sure it’s more or less evenly distributed.
- Wet your paws in the bowl of water and press the stuff into place. Be firm. Pretend you’re suffocating your boss. There you go.
- Bung the pan into the fridge for an hour or so and let it cool & harden while you wash up your dishes.
- Use a big sharp knife or (better yet) a pizza wheel to cut these guys into bars. Save the crumbly bits (and they will be legion) in a bowl to use as a topping for your dessert later on – or, what the hell, just eat the damn things.
- I advise you to make the bars smallish – mine are about 1.5 inches by 3 inches. They are packed with calories (the whole point of an “energy bar”) so any bigger than that and you’re just undoing all the hard work you did in your fitness class.
And there you go. I wrapped mine individually in plastic, because I’m just weird that way, but also because it makes it easier to just take one out of the fridge and stick it into my gym bag as I head out the door.
- about 50 cents for the oats
- maybe $2.50 for the nuts & seeds, depending on what kind you use and how much
- same again ($2.50-ish) for the dried fruit
- 50 cents or so for the cereal
- another 30 cents for the sugar and corn syrup
- maybe 20 cents for the peanut butter
So say $6.50 for the lot, which makes about 20 bars = maybe 33 cents apiece.
Not bad for an hour of mucking about in the kitchen with bird seed, eh? 🙂