So, I mentioned on the Runners Roundtable episode on weight loss that I eschew supplements in favor of real food. An example would be these homemade granola bars. They've got it all, a good blend of simple and complex carbs, healthy fats, and big dose of protein. They're also way more cost effective than Powerbars or similar products. Give them a try and let me know what you think!
2 cups of old fashioned oats (you can use quick oats, but texture isn't as good)
3/4 cup of wheat germ
3/4 cup ground flax seed (I buy it whole and grind it up in a coffee grinder)
1/2 cup of whatever kind of nut you like, crushed (not into powder, but you don't want whole nuts in there either)
1 cup other mix-ins, these can be pretty much anything you want, I've used dried fruit, crisp rice cereal, a different type of nut or more of the same nut. Get creative here! Or, if you can't think of/don't want anything else, you can use another cup of oats.
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup natural peanut butter (Yes, the kind you have to stir. I was skeptical at first, but it's sooooo much tastier than that stuff that's basically peanut flavored margarine.)
2 Tbsp butter (You could use 1 Tbsp canola oil here if you're trying to keep it vegan-friendly)
1/2 tsp salt
OK, here we go.
1. Get a 13x9 pan. Tear a sheet of wax paper twice the length of the pan + a little bit, roughly 28" long. Put the pan under the middle of the wax paper so that you have room to fold the paper over on both sides. Spray the wax paper with cooking spray.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the oats, wheat germ, and flax seed on a baking sheet with sides. If you're using raw nuts and would like to toast them, go ahead and throw them on there too. If you're not using a mix-in, make sure to include the extra cup of oats. Put the mixture in the oven for 10 minutes, stirring thoroughly every 3 minutes to keep things from burning. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer everything into a large bowl.
3. Add your mix-ins to the bowl. If using something like chocolate chips, let the dry mixture cool down a little before adding them.
4. In a medium sized saucepan over low heat, combine the brown sugar, honey, peanut butter, butter, and salt. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is melted and everything is combined. Pour this mixture into the bowl on top of the dry ingredients.
5. Mix everything well, you want to make sure all of the dry stuff in the bowl is coated with the "glue". You will be tempted to use your hands to do this, NOT A GOOD IDEA as the glue contains molten sugar. A big honkin' wooden spoon will suffice.
6. Transfer the mixture to the lined 13x9 pan and spread evenly. Fold the extra wax paper on either side over and press firmly all along the top surface of the pan. You're trying to compact the granola bars down so that everything sticks together as it cools.
7. Make sure the stove and oven are off and go for a run. Go for at least an hour.
8. How was your run? Good? Check to see if the granola bars are cool to the touch. If so, unwrap and flip them onto a suitable cutting surface. If you didn't use enough cooking spray, this is the step where you'll find out.
9. At this point, you could melt down some semi-sweet chips or a chunk of dark chocolate and drizzle it over the top. I've never done this myself, but it would probably be awesome w/ the peanut butter and dark chocolate would provide some more anti-oxidants.
10. Get a big, non-serrated knife and cut straight down into the granola sheet to make the bars. I usually cut it in half the short way, then each of those sections in half, then each of those in half so I end up with 8 long bars, then I cut those in half to make 16 total bars. Once you've got them cut up, you can wrap them individually in wax paper to throw into lunchboxes, gym bags, etc.