Health food: energy bars

Jill Dupleix
Energy bars: On-the-go goodness.
Energy bars: On-the-go goodness. Photo: Edwina Pickles

What are they?

Energy bars, granola bars, breakfast bars, protein slices, oat bars, nutrition bars, sports bars, muesli slices… they're all names for a dense, biscuity, baked slice that generally incorporates oats, nuts, seeds, honey and dried fruits. It's the perfect breakfast or snack for the on-the-run generation.

Where are they?

In Sydney, long-time baker Sophia Alexander of wholesalers Munja Bakehouse spent five years creating her best-selling FNG (fig/nut/grain) muesli slice. "It's all about getting the balance and the texture right," she says. The FNG pops up all over town, from Baker Bros in the city and Cruise Espresso in Freshwater to the cute new Dachshund Coffee ("Come. Sit. Stay.") in Hunters Hill. "Even people who don't do gluten-free like it, because it tastes great," says Dachshund co-owner Alex Williams. "Then they come back and have one of our magnificent house-made caramel slices as well."

At the Premises neighbourhood cafe in Kensington, hungry commuters queue for chef Kate Holloway's cute-as, seed-studded, vegan and sugar-free "on the go" breakfast cookies. "Oh my goodness, they're so popular," says manager Natasha Rogers. "People just get hooked on them."  Mashed banana is the secret, apparently, along with dates, coconut, currants, seeds, and oats.

Why do I care?

Because they're made of good things, packing a great burst of energy into something delicious and portable.

Can I do them at home?

Easy. Make them on the weekend to keep you going during the week.

Sourcing

VIC
The Premises, 202 Bellair Street, Kensington, 03 9376 7565, thepremises.com.au 

NSW
Dachshund Coffee, 64 Gladesville Road, Hunters Hill 02 9879 4619, comesitstay.com
Baker Bros, 56 York Street, Sydney 02 9262 3884; bakerbros.com.au
Cruise Espresso, 2 Moore Road, Freshwater 0400 330 046, cruiseespresso.com.au

Recipe

Cranberry, oat and almond bars

200g rolled oats, not instant

100g almonds, skin-on

10 dates or prunes, stoned 

2 tbsp apple or orange juice

100g peanut or other nut butter

100ml honey or maple syrup

2 tbsp dark brown sugar

2 tbsp coconut oil

60g sunflower seeds

60g pumpkin seeds plus 1 tbsp extra

60g dried cranberries or currants

2 tbsp raw cacao powder

pinch of sea salt

2 tbsp shredded coconut

1. Heat the oven to 160C. Bake the oats and almonds for 15 minutes until toasty, then cool. In a food processor, whiz 50 grams of the oats to a powder. Roughly chop the almonds. Chop the dates and soak in the apple juice for 10 minutes.

2. Combine the peanut butter, honey, brown sugar and coconut oil in a pan and gently heat, stirring, until melted, then set aside. 

3. Combine powdered oats and chopped almonds with remaining oats, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, cacao powder and sea salt, tossing well. Add the melted honey mixture and the date/apple juice mixture, mixing really well with your hands.

4. Lightly oil a 20cm x 20cm baking pan and line with baking paper. Press the mixture into the pan, pressing and tamping it down well. Scatter with coconut and extra pumpkin seeds, pressing them in lightly. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, then remove and allow to cool and harden. Cut into bars and store in an airtight container for up to five days.

Makes 12

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