Come September, it’s easy to over-rely on prepackaged snack foods. Grabbing a crinkly packet of salty or sugary nibbles seems like the simplest way to get an energy boost, especially if we’re upping our exercise after a relaxing summer.
The problem is that many packaged snacks are high in calories and low on nutrients. So make your own on-the-go energy foods. The benefits include improved nutrition, new flavors, saving money and a sense of culinary accomplishment.
Stash these portable eats in your purse or briefcase and get ready to keep your energy high and taste buds happy. These snacks are great for active kids, too.
Curry Apricot Bars
Sweet and savory, these bundles of fruity energy raise the bar for snacks. You can also roll the mixture into balls.
Keep a few pieces of ginger stashed in the freezer. Once frozen, the ginger will be easier to finely grate for use in recipes like bars, drinks and salad dressings.
1 1/2 cups (325 mL) unsalted dry roasted cashews
2 cups (500 mL) dried apricots
1/2 cup (125 mL) dried unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup (60 mL) hemp hearts or sesame seeds
2 Tbsp (30 mL) honey
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 tsp (10 mL) grated or finely minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) curry powder
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
Place cashews in food processor and process until finely chopped. Add apricots, coconut, hemp hearts or sesame seeds, honey, lime juice, ginger, curry powder and salt. Process until mixture clumps together.
Line 8 x 8 in (20 x 20 cm) square baking pan with a piece of parchment paper large enough that there is a 1 in (2.5 cm) overhang.
Place bar mixture in pan. Place another sheet of parchment paper on top and press down firmly to evenly spread out mixture. Leave parchment paper on top and place pan in freezer for 1 hour, or until apricot mixture has firmed up. Use the parchment paper liner to lift bar mixture out of pan and transfer to a cutting board. Remove both pieces of parchment and slice mixture into 12 bars.
Each serving contains: 198 calories; 5 g protein; 11 g total fat (3 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 23 g total carbohydrates (16 g sugars, 3 g fiber); 104 mg sodium
Chocolate Hummus Stuffed Dates
Here’s proof that hummus can take on many personalities. This unexpected dessert version is a tasty filling for dates, resulting in sweet and creamy portable rocket fuel. Extra hummus is a great dip for fresh fruit.
14 oz (398 mL) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup (80 mL) cocoa powder
1/4 cup (60 mL) maple syrup
3 Tbsp (45 mL) tahini
2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
12 Medjool dates
1 Tbsp (15 mL) toasted sesame seeds (optional)
3 Tbsp (45 mL) cacao nibs (optional)
In food processor container, place chickpeas, cocoa powder, maple syrup, tahini, vanilla and a pinch of salt and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust level of sweetness if desired.
Using a knife, slice an opening in dates (without cutting them all the way through into two halves) and remove pits. Gently pry dates open with fingers and spoon in hummus filling. If desired, sprinkle stuffed dates with sesame and cacao nibs.
Each serving contains: 144 calories; 3 g protein; 3 g total fat (0 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 30 g total carbohydrates (21 g sugars, 4 g fiber); 36 mg sodium
Sweet Potato Energy Bites
MAKES 30 BALLS
Sweet potato adds natural sweetness and good nutrition to these great balls of energy. The mixture will be quite moist when rolled, but the oats and flax will draw out some of the moisture upon chilling in the refrigerator.
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 cup (250 mL) pecan halves
3/4 cup (180 mL) rolled oats
1/2 cup (125 mL) pitted dates
2 Tbsp (30 mL) ground flaxseed
1/4 cup (60 mL) honey
Zest of 1 orange
1 tsp (5 mL) allspice
Pinches of salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) dried shredded unsweetened coconut
Place sweet potato in a steamer basket set in a pot with at least 1 in (2.5 cm) of water. Bring water to a boil and steam until sweet potato is fork tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Alternatively, you can also boil the sweet potato until tender.
Place pecans, oats and dates in food processor container and process until finely chopped. Add sweet potato, flaxseed, honey, orange zest, allspice and a couple pinches of salt to container and blend until mixture clumps together.
Using damp hands, form mixture into 1 in (2.5 cm) balls.
Spread coconut out on a plate. Roll balls in coconut and chill in refrigerator to help the balls firm up. Keep chilled until ready to use.
Each energy ball contains: 59 calories; 1 g protein; 3 g total fat (4 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 7 g total carbohydrates (4 g sugars, 1 g fiber); 13 mg sodium