Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Gaia herbs. As always, I only align myself with companies that have philosophies that align with mine. Opinions stated are my own.
When I started to get into homemade energy bars, I was inspired by the release of Larabars. I began experimenting and the old versions were slowly transformed and this one is my all time favorite. While this recipe has more ingredients than some of my other bars or bites, the flavor is great and they may be slightly more filling from the yummy hemp protein. You can roll these into balls too but, I prefer bars rather than balls – much less messy to make the bars then to roll the mixture in your hands.
This is an awesome option for a bite before an early morning workout or a snack after work before the gym.
I made an update to these delicious snacks a few years after their creation to increase the maca root due to all of the current buzz on its benefits as an adaptogen. Adaptogens are being touted for their potential abilities to support a healthy response to stress. 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. In addition to the potential for reducing stress in the body, it is also 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 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 or gaia.com.
You can make these bars in minutes. You’ll just need to add cashews, dates, hemp protein (I like Manitoba Harvest), maca, honey, vanilla and salt to your food processor.
When you simply add all the ingredients, you then pulse until all are pretty finely ground and start to form a ball as in the video and the picture below. This is about 90 seconds in my Cuisinart and I stop every 30 or so seconds to scrape the sides. If the mixture doesn’t seem sticky enough, you can add another 1/2 tablespoon of honey, maple or even water.
Next, pour whole mixture onto a large sheet of wax paper. Fold the paper over the mixture and begin to flatten out with a rolling pin. You’ll need to cut the sides at one point and add the excess back on top to roll again. I roll mine out to about 1/2 inch thick. Once rolled out to your desired thickness, flatten out the edges again with your hands.
The nutrition info below is for 10 bars but you can always cut into larger or smaller servings. The last time I made these, I made mostly bars but then cut the last few bars into cute mini snack bites. Perfect to calm a sweet tooth at night!
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. 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).
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 hemp protein powder
- 2 tablespoons maca root powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey or pure maple
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 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 hemp seeds to a food processor or high quality blender
- Pulse for a total or 60-90 seconds, stopping every 20 or 30 to scrape sides
- Pour mixture onto a piece of parchment large enough to fold over top
- Using a rolling pin and your hands, flatten the mixture to about 1/3-1/2 inch thick, and smooth the sides
- Sprinkle hemp seeds over top and press lightly with hands so they stick
- Cut into 10 rectangles or very small squares
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 g
Sugar: 13 g
Protein: 4.5 g
Sodium: 120 mg 5 %
Potassium: 220 mg 5%
Vitamin A: 2% Vitamin C: 1%
Calcium: 3 % Iron: 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