Ah, student life. Study groups. Finals. All nighters. Coffee (lots of coffee). New textbooks.
Of all the many things that characterize the joys of living the life of the mind, living on a budget is perhaps one of the most ubiquitous. This is true of graduate and undergrad life alike, of course, but as I prepare myself for a new semester, I like to think that I have better financial planning skills than I did when I was eighteen. I’m also a much better cook, which means that I’m determined to make as much homemade food as possible this semester, and not to squander my funds on campus dining when I’m between classes. Let’s begin with snacks.
No matter how many times I vow to make my own snack bars, I continue to fail. I’m not sure why—I’m so disciplined about making my own food in other instances. But for some reason, I can’t stop dropping dough on Larabars, Pure Bars, Vega bars, and other favorites. Now, though, is the time to stop. I have buckwheat groats. I have a food processor. I have dried fruit, nuts, chia seeds, hemp protein, agave, spices…in short, there’s nothing else I need to make awesome homemade energy bars happen. After all, the thing I like most about my favorite raw snack bars is their simplicity. Larabars—the flavors I like, anyway—have three item ingredient lists. Vega bars, as my friend Brendan will always tell audiences at his speaking engagements, were designed to replicate the snack bars he was making at home in his own kitchen. These bars aren’t supposed to be impossible to replicate.
With this in mind, I took a crack at one of my first raw snack bars a few weeks ago. With Vega bars in mind (they’re probably at the top of my raw snack bar list, due to the flavor, the great nutritional profile, and the absence of excess sugar), I decided to use a base of buckwheat, dates, cashews, and Vega Whole Foods Optimizer in the vanilla chai flavor (this is my personal favorite). If you don’t have Vega, that’s fine. You can omit it altogether, or you can substitute hemp protein, Sun Warrior, or another vegan protein powder of choice.
The best thing about these bars is that, even though they’re raw and vegan, they require zero dehydration. Simply mix, shape, refrigerate and enjoy.
Buckwheat Chai Energy Bars (yields 12)
1 cup soaked and dehydrated buckwheat (follow instructions from my buckwheat cereal post)
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup cashews
1 cup dates, pitted
2 tbsp agave nectar
1 scoop Vega vanilla chai
1 tbsp flax oil
1) Grind the dehydrated buckwheat, pumpkin seeds, and cashews in a food processor coarsely (i.e., not so much that they start to look like powder).
2) Add all remaining ingredients and pulse until the whole mass starts coming together and adhering. You may need to turn it out into a bowl and use your hands, but it should stick together easily.
3) Turn the mix out onto a flat, smooth, clean surface, and flatten it into a giant rectangle, making it as neat as you can. You can also use a baking dish for this!
4) Press the mixture down, and then use a sharp knife to cut it into 12 bars. Wrap in saran or tin foil, and store in fridge.
These make wonderful snacks. They’re even a decent solution for a meal on the go. Now that I spend every other weekend on the BoltBus to DC, I eat quite a few lap lunches. Here’s a shot of Friday’s meal: salad, an apple, and the very last bite of one of these bars:
Delicious and nutritious raw, vegan dining on the go. I suspect these bars might be a good standby for days with hectic class schedules in the upcoming semester, too! One thing to note is that these do get overly crumbly after a week or so, so you’ll want to eat them within 7-10 days.
Snack foods tend to be some of our nation’s least healthy. Check the label on any conventional granola bar, snack “cake,” cookie, or even trail mix, and you’ll be horrified by the nutritional stats. This is too bad, because snacks and on-the-go meals are the ones we need to be most nutrient rich—after all, aren’t we counting on them to get us through busy times? Rest assured, then, that these snack bars are chock full of nutrition: protein from the buckwheat, nuts, and Vega, healthy fats, simple sugars that help to fuel you for immediate activity, and a touch of Omega-6 fatty acids from the flax oil. They’re a perfect solution to the junk-food-as-snack-food dilemma.
Hope you get to try these soon, and that they’re as simple and rewarding for you to make as they were for me.
What’s your favorite snack bar—commercial or homemade? Have a recipe to share? What other on-the-go foods do you love?
Stay tuned for a big event recap tomorrow. Happy Sunday!
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These look wonderful and I love the idea of using buckwheat! I am always buying energy bars during the day and I think it’s time I find an alternative. I’m feelin’ you about the student budget!
Hi,Gena I love your recipes.My question is what are your thoughts on Agave? I use to use it until I read many many articles and talked to the nutritionist at my local health store that said its not good for you that its processed the same way HFCS is.Do you have any advice on what I could use in place of nuts I’m anaphalactic to nuts and seeds(except peanuts) because I would love to make these bars. Thanks
Wow – I love the simplicity & profile of this recipe! Thx for sharing – gonna try it out today!
How much is one scoop of Vega? I bought an envelope so I don’t have the handy dandy scoop. Thanks!
Oh, if you got a little packet, it should be the whole packet (check the serving size on the back).
These look great – will try this week.
also checked out your almond milk directions and can’t wait to start making my own when my VITAMIX arrives this week!!
oooo perfect post timing! (ok maybe not since im reading this now and it was clearly posted a few days ago, but still). i am currently making my way through a bunch of buckwheat groats like nobody’s business. this may be the next recipe on deck!
Nice. Have been looking for new recipes to make energy bars. Most of the ones that I’ve made have been too heavy on the nuts.
Vega is a brilliant idea to add in! Unfortunately I found myself really overeating on my own homemade energy bars (I guess I made them exactly how I liked!) so I stopped making them. Perhaps if I cut reasonable bar sizes and individually wrapped them when I made them that would not happen (instead I cut directly out of the pan, and it ended up the same way it ends up when I have pans of desserts around).
I’m glad you posted another bar recipe using “buckwheaties”. I loved your first one so I made these ones too… They are awesome! They also held together much better (I think using dates instead of raisins helped). They definitely taste more like Vega bars than Larabars, due to the satisfying crunch of the buckwheat grains.
I decided to make them into balls instead of bars and got 26 pieces. If anyone decides to try this, make sure you wet your hands before rolling the balls.
Nice! So happy you liked them!
The bars look great! I’m going to save the recipe and give the a try soon…thanks!
Mmmm love snacky type foods. I’m a fan of Pure and GoRaw for bars and Blue Mountain Organics brownies. 🙂 I like making my own too 🙂
I love vega! I’ve never tried vanilla chai, I actually really like the original flavour for some reason, it tastes like pure nutrition 🙂 I made Energy bars from Brendan’s Book (creator of Vega) Thrive Diet: http://sketch-freeveganeating.blogspot.com/2010/10/carob-blueberry-energy-bars-vegan-gf.html
Looks amazing! I think I want to make some for my sister who is also in college and loves the flavor of chai! Thanks for a wonderful recipe idea!
I’m like you – I know how easy and delicious homemade energy/granola bars are, and yet I rarely make them! This sounds like a good easy recipe, and I even have buckwheat groats in my pantry – lucky that. I’m going to try these this afternoon, thanks for sharing the recipe.
Any Larabar or Rawvolution bar, but I tend to eat even these very sparingly, as in once a month or so. I will, however, try to make these bars! I have the chocolate Vega, so I’ll make the recipe with that. I’ve yet to try any other flavor of Vega, because I tried the berry flavor and found it to be repulsive. Maybe I’ll buy an individual serving of the vanilla chai and try it now.
Mmm, yum yum! I need to make some to-go bars. Me, my hubs, and my 20-month old LOVE ’em so why not make ’em? And I love buckwheat too. Thanks for sharing your recipe.
I would really like to start making my own bars, but soaking and dehydrating the buckwheat groats sounds a bit intimidating to me…Is it really worth it? How would the bars taste without soaking and dehydrating them?
I need to make a batch of bars. I made a cashew/date/peanut butter bar often for the husband to take to work, but have gotten out of the habit. I think it is nice to have a couple of purchased (better if on sale) bars on hand for times you need to grab and go, but ideally they’d all be homemade.
Better get to soaking my buckwheat….
I tried Vanilla Vega but I wasn’t a fan….it tasted too green, but maybe I’m just not that used to green tasting things. I like Lara Bars, but I think a simple, homemade bar with oats, peanut butter, and seeds trumps all!
I just tried vanilla-chai Vega for the first time last night – loved it. (Just don’t love the price tag!) I have a thing for loving storebought bars too…there’s always a new one to try, yknow? I particularly like Pure Bars and Cavewoman Bars.
I like your food style SO much, gena.
pure and whole and delicious!
also, I just bought some buckwheat and I don’t know what to do with it…I may have to cruise around your site for a bit!
thanks for so many good recipes!
those look great! My super cheap and frugal bars are just sunflower seeds, dried coconut, raisins, carob, chia and lots of cayenne.. super cheat and delicious.
I don’t know if words can express how amazing these sound. I love anything chai flavored, and there is energy in the title. I’m defiantly bookmarking these and making them soon!
Thank you so much for having the backs of we turning-raw-but-without-all-fancy-appliances folks! This looks delectable, and about right for my level of raw skills 😛
These looks delicious. I love Larabars. They’ve been a favorite for quite a while now, but I agree that making your own is easy and so affordable.
These look great! I love Laras, and often make my own but this is a genius replacement for Vega bars which are SO expensive! Thanks Gena:)
Gah. Today I had ultimate plans to make my own bars for the week but found that the bf had stocked up on tons of Larabars because they had a sale at local grocer. I wish I would have seen this first!
Wonderful recipe! Thank you so much!
Amen on your comment that we count on snack bars to get us through time and that often they don’t measure up!
I applaud you for sharing this. Snack bars are so important for busy folks. I’m with you on appreciating Brendan’s line of bars: while I love the simplicity of lara bars, they just whack my sugars out and make me hungrier. I recently wrote a review of the vega bars and mentioned a caution about eating sprouted buckwheat too frequently: I had a friend that was eating it every day who ended up with the photosensitive rash that is supposed only to happen from buckwheat micro-greens. I’ve been thinking of making bars with sprouted quinoa and amaranth as alternatives.
I love energy bars, and have written a whole series of blogs about making them: I was trying to make them no-sugar, and using a stevia-sweetened chia gel instead of dried fruit. For preservability, I couldn’t get away from the utility of dried fruits for binding as well as shelf life. But I have a few more ideas too, and am thinking that eventually I’ll be able to use lower glycemic dried fruits for my own bars.
I’ve never made my own snack bars, but after seeing this post and watching a ridiculous amount of the Cooking Channel this past weekend, I think it’s time to reconsider…
I definitely love the Lara bars, but then again, I haven’t made my own in a really long time. The cashew cookie Lara bar is an all time favorite.
YUUUUM! I’m always on the look out for good quality raw bars…I think I’m going to start making my own….Great post as always!
i adore larabars, and go raw Live bars (esp the pumpkin seed/flax) but i make my own laras lots of times just because they aren’t on sale very often! i’ve been making my own nut milk too since i got a bag for straining. lately, i’ve been baking a ton and freezing individual servings, i pop them in the microwave for 20s or just let them come to temperature in my lunch bag. our cafe has very few healthy options or gluten free foods so it’s a blessing and a curse that im forced to make so much food haha.
WOW, these energy bars look AMAZING! I can’t wait to make them – they will serve as a perfect snack in between classes!
Right now, I am really loving the Clif Z-bar’s (specifically chocolate brownie), but your bars look so good (and probably a lot healthier)!
Oh wow, great minds think alike! Earlier today I just posted a snackbar review post and gave my recipes for making your own bars (or balls).
Seriously, I don’t buy bars anymore. I used to buy a few but I am fortunate enough to receive some product samples every now and then and they are nice, but I cannot imagine popping$$ for them on any kind of regular basis. Just goes against my nature. You know on some things, I am super frugal 🙂
And making my own bars is easy, it’s cheap, and I can control what I put in them, i.e. extra chocolate chips 🙂 haha!
Your recipe looks great Gena!
And I love that you are on a first-name basis with Brendan and you two meetup for lunch and chit chat (your last post..forgot to comment on the cool factor!)
Enjoy your bars!
These look great! If I used hemp protein, should I add extra agave or dates for sweetness? (I assume you get some sweetness from the Vega?)
Those look delicious, definitly gonna have to try them soon. Thank you for making them dehydrator free bc I don’t have one..lol Student loans always scare me!
Yum! I have to try to make these soon. I too shell out too much money on Larabars etc. :/
I am the grad student who lives at home with her parents (aka food is paid for) and definitely does not made enough homemade snacks. I am great with meals but the snacks tend to fall to the wayside. I think I am going to have to create these before spring semester begins!
I love bars. As a recent college grad, I basically lived off of them for 3.5 years. My favorite are Clif Kid’s bars. They taste like cookies. 🙂
I love those Vega bars! Putting these on my list 🙂
ooh i bet those bars would be delicious chopped up in that salad!!
you are so good at what you do. just sayin!!
Ohhh my. This is JUST what I need. Going to check out the cereal post now. Hoping I can dehydrate with the oven! 🙂 Thanks, G!
My favorite snack bars are Larabars, for sure. But those chai ones look divine!
Those do sound wonderful, I love chai. My favorite bar is the lemon Larabar. I love that bright citrus flavor cutting through the rich nuttiness.
My favorite larabar is the lemon, too! 🙂