Chewy, easy-to-make energy bars, bursting with two favorite flavors of summer: strawberry and lemon! They are no-bake, as well as naturally nut-free, gluten-free and vegan.
I have not posted an energy bar for awhile. Also, I have not cleaned out my pantry for awhile. The latter led to my discovery of a package of freeze-dried strawberries that had been pushed to the back of a shelf (I believe I blamed someone for eating them. Oops, and sorry), as well as an open bag of millet puffs that were begging to be used up.
These facts, as well as a few other ingredients, added up to this wholly delicious energy bar. It is loaded with the freeze dried strawberries and millet puffs, as well as an ample amount of lemon zest, equaling a bar that is as summery as can be.
The millet puffs, which look like tiny, hull-less popcorn, are the foundation of these bars. Millet is a tiny, gluten-free grain that resembles couscous. It is high in fiber, as well as a host of minerals (such as calcium and magnesium) and other nutrients.
Millet can be cooked whole, like rice or a porridge (depending on the amount of water added), ground into flour, or puffed, just like puffed wheat or puffed rice. You can find puffed millet in the health food section of grocery stores or at natural food stores. Look for it in bags (Arrowhead Mills is the most common brand).
The light, delicate texture of the puffs, combined with a simple concoction of sunflower nut butter (yes, these are nut-free, too!) and brown rice syrup, a bit of lemon juice and a wallop of lemon zest, creates a chewy bar (similar to rice crispy treats–yes, please), but with a bright, citrus flavor.
I like to stir in a few tablespoons of chia seeds to the mix, too, for both crunch and nutrition, but they are entirely optional. You could also substitute finely chopped nuts, or another type of seed.
Last, but not least, the strawberries! Freeze-dried strawberries are ideal for bars, cookies and muffins, adding intense berry flavor without moisture. For these bars, I find that it is best to stir them in halfway through combining the cereal and the sunflower butter mixtures; it keeps their texture and form distinct and prevents them from breaking down in the warm sunflower mixture.
You can crumble the strawberries into bits, as I have done, or crush them into a powder for a more uniform (pink) color and strawberry flavor throughout.
I should note that maple syrup will not work in place of the brown rice syrup in these bars. By will not work, I mean that the bars will not hold together. It’s a sugar thing. Honey (if not vegan) or organic corn syrup are the only other options for these particular bars. I have a lot of other power bar recipes, with all kinds of options for sweeteners and ingredients, if these do not suit your needs!
These bars travel very well, great for all kinds of summer activities. We are off to pick blueberries in the morning (in near 10o degree heat); I’ll definitely pack some of these, along with plenty of water.
Happy weekend everyone, and here’s to more power to you!
- 2 and ¾ cups puffed millet
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds (optional)
- ½ cup smooth sunflower seed butter
- ⅓ cup brown rice syrup
- 3 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- ¾ cup crumbled freeze-dried strawberries
- Lightly spray or grease a 9-inch baking pan; line with parchment paper.
- Combine the millet and optional chia seeds in a large bowl.
- In a small saucepan set over medium-low heat, combine the sunflower seed butter, brown rice syrup, coconut oil, lemon juice and salt, stirring until melted and beginning to bubble. Cook and stir for 1 minute longer. Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest.
- Working quickly, pour sunflower seed mixture over millet; stir to partially combine. Sprinkle in strawberries and stir until mixture is well coated and combined.
- Scrape mixture into prepared pan, firmly tamping down until even (I use the bottom of another small pan to do this). Cool completely and then refrigerate until firm.
- Use the parment liner to remove the firm slab to a cutting board and cut into bars.
Tip: An equal amount of smooth nut putter or tahini can be used in place of the sunflower seed butter.