Thursday, June 6, 2013

Homeade Cliff Bars

Bet you didn't think you could make homemade cliff bars now did you? I know I didn't, so when I saw a recipe for a homemade cliff bar, I knew I had to try it! I am always looking for new ways to make some of my favorite workout snacks at home and with no preservatives. Of course you don't have to just eat these before a workout - they also make a great meal replacement (for those morning where you are running out the door to work or school!) or if you need a good snack to get you through the afternoon and keep you going strong. No matter how you choose to eat these, I promise you will love them. Double promise.

The captain and I both enjoy Cliff Bars. Maybe more so him than I, but that's just because I am a calorie snob and don't want to spend over 200 calories for a snack. That's just me though. The average Cliff Bar has about 250 calories give or take, but is loaded with all kinds of good stuff for you and will keep you going like the energizer bunny after you eat one. They are also free of high fructose corn syrup and have tons of organic ingredients. Not to mention, they have tons and tons of flavors. Some are so good that they taste like big cookie. I am not even kidding. Some energy bars out there taste like cardboard, but Cliff Bars definitely do not. For those who have eaten a Cliff Bar, I know you know what I am talking about. One of my favorite flavors is their peanut butter and chocolate chip bar. I am a total sucker for anything peanut butter and chocolate. There is just something that make those two taste so darn good together that it makes them pretty much irresistible. Who's with me?

So, when I saw a recipe for homemade peanut butter chocolate chip cliff bars I just had to try them. Homemade and my favorite flavor? Winning! I headed to the grocery store down the street to gather everything I needed to try this bad boys out. The great thing about one of my local stores is that they have a huge bulk section so I can just get a little bit of what I need instead of a huge bag or box. This is especially good for chocolate chips as I have been known to eat extras straight from the bag. Maybe even with spoonful of peanut butter, but I didn't just tell you that. The first thing you need to do to make these bars (which take all of five minutes to throw together) is to melt peanut butter and brown rice syrup on the stove until it forms a nice liquidy sauce. Once the "sauce" has come together, you will mix is with everything else - rice cereal, oats, peanuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, chopped dates (natural sweetness!) and cinnamon. When you are mixing everything together, be careful not to touch your hands directly to the hot peanut butter and brown rice syrup mixture - you will burn yourself. Ouch! Use a big spoon to help you mix, but be careful not to crush all the rice cereal. No one likes crushed rice cereal. Once everything is really well coated, mix in the chocolate chips and place in the pan for cooling. After a good hour or two, you can remove the bars from the pan, cut them up and enjoy! If you are not eating them right away (ya right), you can keep them in the fridge or even the freezer for later. That is if they even last that long. I gave samples to both the captain and my kickboxing instructor and they both loved them. That must be a good sign they were pretty darn good. Just saying.

fresh ground peanut butter is the best

all the dry ingredients

pb and brown rice syrup

sticky sticky

adding in the best part - the chocolate chips!

pressed in the pan. don't worry if the chocolate chips melt a bit.

so yummy!

Homemade Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cliff Bars (slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)

1 cup dates (pitted)
1 1/4 cups crisp rice cereal
1 cup quick-cooking oats

1/4 cup coarsely chopped peanuts
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

2 tablespoons chia seeds (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Spray an 8x8-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Place the dates in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Combine the pureed dates with the cereal, oats, peanuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Combine the peanut butter and brown rice syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until melted and completely blended. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the oat mixture and stir until well combined. Gently stir in the chocolate chips. Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and press firmly to pack the mixture into the pan. Let the mixture sit until completely cool and set, at least 1 hour. Cut into bars, then wrap individually in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

A little chewy, a little sweet and a whole lot of deliciousness. These bars are also sweetened with brown rice syrup, there are no added sugars, and they are even gluten free!

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