I found this recipe right after getting hooked on the Navitas Naturals brand of raw and rare “superfood” ingredients and products. I had also just fallen in love with Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts and recently had purchased their hemp protein powder. The Navitas website has tons of great recipes that I was browsing and after trying this one decided it was the best energy bar I have ever had. I made some slight adjustments such as adding a little more protein powder, maca and honey and slightly less nuts but the difference is marginal. Another change I’ve made is making these into bars rather than balls – much less messy to make the bars then to roll the mixture in your hands. The original recipe is here.
This is an awesome option for a bite before an early morning workout or a snack after work before the gym.
Cashew Cookie Hemp Energy Bars (Veg, DF, GF)
Makes 10 bars
1 1/4 Cups raw or roasted unsalted cashews
1 Cup raw pitted dates*
1/4 Cup + 1 tablespoon hemp protein powder
1 tablespoon maca root powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons honey (or agave to truly make vegan!)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon raw hemp hearts
*Both Medjool and Deglet Noor work. When using Deglet you may need to add a tsp of water for more moisture.
Add all ingredients except the hemp hearts to your food processor.
Next, pour whole mixture onto a large sheet of wax paper. Fold the paper over the mixture and begin to flatten our with your hands or a rolling pin. I roll mine out to about 1/2 inch thick. Once rolled out to desired thickness, flatten out the edges with hands.
Unfold the wax paper and sprinkle the hemp hearts on top. Lightly press them into the mixture with your hands and then cut the piece in to 10 even bars (the nutrition info below is for 10 bars but you can always cut into larger or smaller servings).
Separate the bars and cut the large sheet of wax paper to wrap the bars. Throw one in your lunch bag or purse & store the rest in the fridge for up to 10 days.
Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:
Dates, in my opinion, are natures candy! They are a source of natural sugar which can be helpful to athletes before and during exercise when they need a quick absorbing energy source. They provide fiber and minerals like potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and even some calcium. Instead of packaged products, I use dates as fuel during long outdoor workouts and even races.
Nuts like cashews are known for their heart healthy mono-unsaturated fats. Most do not recognize the high iron, copper and magnesium content. Female athletes especially need more iron for proper metabolism, blood & immune function, and oxygen delivery around the body. Copper is important for the blood too but also supports your body’s antioxidant systems. Magnesium plays a role in over 300 enzymes reactions in the body for metabolism, bone and heart health.
Hemp protein is an excellent alternative to dairy proteins like whey and casein. Manitoba Harvest is my favorite brand for both protein powder and hemp hearts; they highlight amino acid content here. Other than its protein content, hemp also provides both soluble (great for your heart) and insoluble (excellent for your gut) fiber, potassium, zinc, magnesium, calcium and lots of iron. In addition, hemp protein is a terrific vegan source of omega 3’s.
Due to its natural sugar content honey is a great sports nutrition aid as discussed in this Runner’s World article. When purchasing real nectar or clover honey, especially local to your region, honey is also great for the immune system. And your mom didn’t add honey to tea when you were sick for no reason; it is an excellent cough suppressant. See more on its nutritional benefits at the National Honey Board. *Be careful what you purchase though as a report revealed most store bought honey isn’t real honey and the pollen, which has immune benefits, is removed (more info here).
Maca root has small amounts of calcium, Vitamin C and iron as well as fiber, phytochemical antioxidants and plant sterols which are known to aid in reducing blood cholesterol levels. It is most sought due to claims to boost energy and endocrine function (particularly in females). Maca has been consumed in Peru for thousands of years for these reasons, but there is not a large body of conclusive scientific evidence for those claims. I tried Navitas Naturals brand mostly to see what the hype was about. I enjoy the taste and do feel it provides a small energy boost when I add it to my oatmeal and skip the morning coffee – but that is just my feedback, not a research study! Lot’s of studies related to endocrine function are linked to from a summary here and you can evaluate more research at examine.com.
Total Fat: 7.5 g
Saturated Fat: 1.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 2 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 22 g
Fiber: 3.5 g
Sugar: 13 g
Protein: 4.5 g
Sodium: 120 mg 5 %
Potassium: 220 mg 5%
Vitamin A: 2% Thiamin: 10 % Riboflavin: 5 %
Niacin: 3% Vitamin B6: 6 % Folate: 3 %
Vitamin C: 1% Pantothenic Acid: 5 %
Vitamin E: 3 % Calcium: 3 % Iron: 12%
Zinc: 15% Copper: 35 % Magnesium: 20 %
Phosphorus: 15 % Manganese: 20% Selenium: 6 %
Omega 3: 0.2 g (12%)
**Vitamins & minerals are listed as % daily value; you may need more than 100% each day if you’re an athlete, have a deficiency disease, or other medical concerns