How to Make Your Own Energy Bars


Being a frugal road biker is tricky. At times, it’s near impossible. So when I started training for LOTOJA last spring I instinctively shielded my wallet when the realization struck me of how much I would be eating, let alone pedaling, on my long training rides. Armed with the sum of human wisdom (Google) and a tough set of intestines, my homemade energy bars recipe experiment ended with this tasty number. At less than $.20 per 200 calorie bar, it satisfied my hunger and my budget.

Energy Bars Ingredients List
1 1/4 cups store brand Crisp Rice (Rice Krispies)
1 cup uncooked quick oats
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
1/4 cup chopped raisins
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Step One
Stick your oats, flaxseed meal, raisins, cinnamon, and Rice Krispies in a semi-large mixing bowl. Stir them together a bit so when you add the peanut butter mixture you don’t inhale balls of cinnamon that throw you into a coughing fit at mile 65 this weekend.

Step Two
On the stove, warm up the peanut butter and syrup. Heat and stir until they form a nice, smooth mixture. After you take it off the heat, add the vanilla. Why you do this, I have no idea, but one cooking blog insisted. Who am I to argue.

Step Three
Pour your peanut butter goop into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Mix until everything is coated in peanut-buttery, syrupy goodness.

Step Four
Spray a small cooking sheet with PAM or whatever non-stick cooking spray you fancy. Dump your mixture onto the sheet, cover it with wax paper, and use a rolling pin to mash it down hard into the pan. Stick the whole thing into the fridge to chillax for a bit.

Step Five
Take it out of the fridge (unless you have a special talent for wielding a pizza cutter among milk and eggs) and slice your concoction into 8 bars.

Step Six
Wrap each one in wax paper (you can do plastic wrap, but wax paper is much easier to unwrap when riding), tape it up, and throw a few in your jersey pocket for your next ride.

Nutrition Facts
So, here’s how it goes, for the recipe above you’ve got a total 1670 calories, 214g of carbs, and 48g of protein. If you cut it into 8 bars, you’ve got bars that have 209 calories, 27g of carbs, and 6g of protein a piece for about $0.19 a bar. Not too shabby.

If you like nuts. You can add those. I’m not a big fan of nuts in bars so, obviously, my version is nut-free.

Maple syrup isn’t the healthiest option. If you’re picky about that stuff, some of the recipes I looked at recommended brown rice syrup. I had no idea what that was, so Kroger brand flavored corn syrup was my fuel of choice.

I’ve tried other dried fruit like craisins, dried pineapple, etc., but you can’t really taste a difference so stick with trusty, cheap raisins.

If you like protein powders or whatever GNC had on sale this week, can’t hurt to give ’em a try.

    • I personally disagree that maple syrup is an unhealthy option. Looking at your picture, it may be, but if you use real maple syrup, not imitation maple flavored sugar syrup, it would be much healthier and contain many nutrients that other sugars probably wouldn’t contain.

  1. Real Maple syrup, not maple flavored corn syrup is much easier on your body. Glycemic Index (measure of how quickly your body can process a sugar) Corn Syrup 89, Maple Syrup 54, Agave Nectar 14. Depends if you want a long slow rise in blood sugar or a quick spike, male is a nice middle ground. Hope that helps someone :) I will be making some of these tonight.

  2. great idea. The one revision I suggest is that you replace the peanut butter with almond, cashew, filbert, etc. Peanut butter, even the natural stuff just isn’t very good for you and on longer rides may contribute to digestive distress. The quality of fat and protein in the other nut butters will be much higher and more readily usable by the body. Thanks for the great idea, I will use this.

  3. I like it! My routine is using the ’84 Nishiki to replace the truck. Been doing it for 14 months now. Saved OODLES of $$$ by running about 75-80 miles a week to work and school 7 days/wk. I make a fruit/nut/chocolate pack for the comm college diet so I won’t fall over asleep…easy when you’re 61. Your idea is way cool. I’ll mix in some of my favs… raw/unsalted almonds (crushed a bit for the bars) and the same for the chunks of dark unsweetened baking chocolate instead of candy bars. Ooh, and sunflower nuts, too. Thanks for the wax paper trick.

  4. FYI, you add the vanilla extract after you take it off the heat because real vanilla extract is basically just vanilla infused alcohol, and the heat would cook the alcohol off along with the vanilla flavor.

    You can make your own vanilla extract with vodka and vanilla beans.

  5. As stated above, pure maple syrup is actually pretty good for you. Corn syrup is not so good for you, unless you’re looking for and instant blood sugar increase (which you may be, I’m not a distance cyclist so I don’t know).

    I would like to give this a try with almond butter and molasses, but am concerned that almond butter won’t set the way processed peanut butter would. Any thoughts? And I have no idea where molasses falls on the glycemic index, but that’s what I’ve got.

  6. what’s the overall dimensions of the bars for the calories/fats/protein numbers that you gave..? Standardization is the key… otherwise, people will be cutting the sheet in half and thinking that they’re eating healthy, when in reality, they are consuming 2-3 meals at once…

  7. Honey should be a good substitution for syrup. Real maple syrup is expensive and the corn-syrup based ersatz is wrecking, but honey is relatively cheap, non-perishable, and good for you.

  8. sadie: mass produced peanut butter has hyrolized fats, that set and don’t separate. if you get authentic peanut butter it won’t be much different from almond. perhaps you can mix a bit of unhealthy peanut butter and almond as a compromise. in the end its all about chemistry ))

  9. Processed cereal, NOT natural peanut butter, high fructose corn syrup, and fake vanilla.. These are products NOT good for you.. These healthy bars really aren’t that healthy…

    • Dawn, just to clarify, these are not HEALTHY bars, they are ENERGY bars. My goal was to make something quick, cheap, and tasty that would give me the energy I needed for long rides. A lot of what people have suggested is great, but my goals was frugality, not Whole-Food-ality 😉

    • thats why the title of the article is ENERGY BARS, not HEALTHY BARS. should alwaya completely read and understand what you are about to comment on, before you do it, its a good skill to learn and use in every aspect of lifef

    • This is a fallacy.

      Natural does not mean healthier.

      whether something is healthy or not does not depend on whether it is natural. Instead of relying on an appeal to nature(a fallacy, please provide reasons why it is not as healthy(it very well may not be as healthy but your current reasoning is flawed)

  10. He never states that this recipe is “healthy” only that its a high energy (which means a lot of sugar anyways because you are going to be burning it as fuel). High energy bars are very the athletic and are not an alternative to meal replacement bars, these are completely 2 different bars.

  11. You add the vanilla after you take off heat, because vanilla extract has a lot of alcohol in it. High temperatures = evaporation/destroying vanilla flavor! :)
    Great recipe!

  12. Just made these and they were delicious. I used and 8X8 glass pan and compressed the mix with a potato masher- rolling pin didn’t work with my pan. Thank you for sharing… ignore those who have nothing better to do than to find fault with everyone else. If I don’t like the ingredients of something, I just move on to another recipe… :-)

  13. I hope your creativity and drive would rub off to lots of people… This is a good article and i like the way your living your life! good luck!! i actually am a frugal baker/biker but i dont race… :)

  14. Thanks for the recipe! I made a double-batch (since we have 2 serious cyclists at home) and added some protein powder and chia seeds (2tbs of each), and a 1/4 tsp of nutmeg, then packaged them in snack-sized zip baggies (I’m no good with wax paper myself). I love love love things like this! Thanks again!

  15. i made a batch and when i pulled it out it broke up badly. and i used exact measurement. is there anything i need to do. and what the exact time to leave it in the fridge

  16. You add the vanilla last because you don’t want it to fume off or be destroyed in the cooking process — keeps it fragrant and flavorful.

  17. Thanks for the recipe Gregg. I realize that these are energy bars, but I can see easily substituting healthy ingredients (almond butter, honey, steel cut oats, etc) for the ones you listed. Sure, it will be about twice the cost as what you’re making, but still very affordable compared with what’s out there…and then I know for sure exactly what I’m eating. Basically I will be making a Meal Replacement Bar to support my training regimen which is a 50-50 mix of cycling and weight training. Thanks again for the recipe and the ideas!

  18. But why not make them healthier while you’re at it? There are so many wholesome ingredients (cinnamon, flaxseed, oats) in this recipe; why ruin it with corn syrup and processed food?

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