Mocha Nut Energy Bars
o many times I have heard how someone will have lunch at noon, experience extreme hangriness around 7 pm because they haven’t eaten since lunch, and then proceed to consume 3 lbs. of pasta to squash their hunger. Okay, the last part may be a bit exaggerated. But still, you know you have experienced something similar. Not eating for several hours can make you ravenous enough so when you do finally eat, you eat way more than you should. There is a simple solution here; snacks!
aving snacks available while out and about is key to maintaining energy between meals, as well as preventing hunger meltdowns and compensatory overeating. Snacking is even better when you choose whole foods that keep you on track nutritionally and provide nutrients for sustained brain and body energy.
hen thinking about what to snack on to get you through that dragging morning or afternoon, macronutrients are a consideration. A good snack should contain all 3 macronutrients for maximal benefits. Carbs should be the main focus of a snack because this is our body’s preferred macronutrient for energy. The brain itself actually runs exclusively on glucose, which comes from carbohydrates. While carbs will provide a more short-term energy boost, fat in snacks will help with long-term energy. Protein in your snack provides amino acids to support muscle repair. This is especially important for athletes and active individuals who workout daily, as their muscles continue to rebuild throughout the day.
n addition to nourishment and an energy boost, a snack should provide enough satisfaction to prevent hunger for a couple more hours/until the next meal. There are a few food factors that can influence hunger and fullness. Clearly, the amount of food you eat at a time plays a role, but what is in the food definitely matters too. Carbohydrates digest rather quickly, which is why just an apple will probably have you soon feeling hungry again. Protein and fats take longer to break down and digest, and will curb hunger for longer. Fiber is also important in feeling satisfied with a meal or a snack because fiber adds bulk to food and slows down digestion.
hese energy bars contain some thoughtful ingredients based on the info above. Dates provide the great majority of energizing carbohydrates. Almonds and almond butter offer sustained energy through fats, as well as some carbs and plant-protein. The whey protein is the main source of muscle building amino acids in these bars. Some fat and carbs also come from the coconut. Dates, almonds/almond butter, and coconut all contribute satiating fiber. All in all, each bar has 43 g carbohydrates, 12 g protein, 16 g fat, and 7 g fiber.
spresso powder is the secret ingredient here. If the rest of the foods in the bar don’t get you going, I bet the caffeine in the espresso powder will. There is a good amount of it too. Each bar has about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee! Between the nutrient rich foods and the energizing espresso, I am sure these delicious energy bars will give you the pick-me-up you need to get back to taking on the day.
Mocha Nut Energy Bars
Makes 4 bars
1 cup Medjool dates, chopped
¼ cup almond butter
6 tbs. chocolate whey protein powder (~1 ½ scoops/23g protein)
2 tbs. cocoa powder
2 tbs. instant espresso powder
2 tbs. (1 oz.) almonds, toasted
5 tbs. shredded coconut, toasted
Combine dates and almond butter in a food processor. Pulse and blend until a thick, smooth mixture forms. This may take a few minutes.
Add in the protein, cocoa, and espresso powders and the salt. Blend well until combined evenly.
Add in the almonds and 2 tbs. of the coconut. Pulse and blend until the almonds have been broken down into small bits.
Line a small square or rectangle container (5x7 used here) with plastic wrap. Add the blended mixture and firmly compress evenly into the container. Top with the remaining 3 tbs. coconut and press into the bars. Let chill in fridge for at least an hour or until firm. Cut into fourths.
The bars store best in the fridge. All the ingredients are shelf-stable, but I think it would be best to enjoy these bars within about a week of making.
Note: Other protein powder can be used like soy, but the protein content of the bars will likely differ.