Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Tom's Sporting Energy Bars

"The market is full of expensive energy bars that promise to keep you going, but if you’re sensible you can very easily make some of your own that are tastier and many times cheaper. And this is what I have done...."

You might be surprised to know that as well as being a talented and renowned food writer, I am also something of an athlete. Rugby, cricket, tennis, squash, you name it, I’m slightly better than mediocre at it. But what do all these sports have in common? Well, a ball of course.

Traditionally I am not keen on activities like jogging, swimming, cycling or rowing, which are usually the preserve of those unable to catch, kick or throw (as anyone who saw Mo Farah on Superstars over Christmas will have noticed). However, inspired by Sir Bradley’s exploits in the Tour de France and on the streets of South West London during those glorious weeks last summer, I have decided to take my six mile cycle to work to another level and enter the Wiggle Dragon Ride, a 100km plus cyclo-sportive (bike ride!) in South Wales.

Being a competitive animal, I am not content to just turn up with no training under my belt and wobble round, wheezing up the hills. Consequently, light training, in the form of multiple laps round Richmond Park on Sunday morning, has already commenced, with the intention that the better weather will bring longer rides and more hills.

Exercising for long periods of time, whether you’re cycling, skiing, hiking etc. means that you burn lots of calories, so will need to eat to keep your energy levels up. The market is full of expensive energy bars that promise to keep you going, but if you’re sensible you can very easily make some of your own that are tastier and many times cheaper. This is what I have done and, as prophesised, they are indeed cheaper (just 33p each) and tastier than the ones you can buy.

The recipe is one that I pretty much made up on the spot. It is a variation on a traditional flapjack, with plenty of oats, nuts, seeds, a bit of dark chocolate, honey and some unsweetened peanut butter, which provide a combination of quick and slow release carbohydrates along with a good dose of protein. No butter though, which is a no-no if we’re attempting to make these healthy as well as delicious!

By the way, if you’re sceptical as to their efficacy, I can assure you, they work wonders! My legs were feeling very heavy the other morning, but after a quick stop and one of these bars, my lap time round Richmond reduced by a minute or two: QED.

Tom’s sporting energy bars

Makes 24

500g porridge oats
100g flaked almonds
200g dark chocolate, either chocolate chips or a bar broken into small chunks
150g pistachios
100g sunflower seeds
100g raisins, or any other dried fruit of your preference
200g whole nut, no added sugar, peanut butter (I use the Whole Earth one)
340g honey

You will need to grease a shallow 30cm x 20cm x 3cm baking tray and heat the oven to 160 Celsius.
  1. Add all the dry ingredients into a bowl and give them a stir.
  2. Add the peanut butter and honey and mix until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined. It is certainly easier to use your hands (washed of course) to do this, but a large spoon will do a decent job too.
  3. You will need to bake the bars in two batches, so spoon half the mixture into the baking tray and press down thoroughly so it is level and tightly packed. Now place into the oven and bake for 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
  4. Take out of the oven and leave for ten minutes to cool slightly. Then, with the mixture still in the tray, use a sharp knife to cut it into bars. You should be able to get 12 from each batch.
  5.  Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the second lot of mixture and there you have it: 24 very tasty energy bars, perfect to keep you going whether you’re out walking, cycling, skiing or just with a cup of tea!

Because I made so many, I have stashed a load in the freezer ready to fuel my future exertions. You should do the same!

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