There are so many food bars out there, nicely packaged and I'm sure, all are equally good for you. They are most probably the perfect go to snack in a hurry - the Grab and Go as I like to call them, yet nothing is:
a) As satisfying as making it yourself
b) Knowing the products you have lovingly added in it are not full of nasties and
c) Tastier and better for you than most shop bought product going.
So after a little digging around and speaking to several runners, endurance runners and athletes in particular, and how at the end of a long run, they don't need to be refuelled purely with protein shakes, it seems the perfect balance would be to have a higher proportion of protein to recover the muscles and a good dose of carbs to renewal and retain the energy levels. Baring in mind this is not for people whose only goal for running is weight lose. These heavenly bars are for maintenance and improved athletic performance. They are designed and I'm sure will be tweaked the more I do to provide a healthy dose of protein 20g+ in order to assist in the muscle recovery of a long run (1 hour +), along with good carbs which slowly release into the blood stream and keep your energy levels from dipping or reaching new highs. along with no nasties, so they are jam packed with refined sugar free, dates, figs, oats, fruit which will assist in refuelling you after a long run!
This recipe is a take on the one from the great Olympian Dame Mary Peters. Dame Mary Peters is an Olympic gold medallist in the women’s pentathlon and regarded as one of Northern Ireland’s greatest ever athletes. She set a then world record to claim gold in the 1972 games in Munich, so she is no stranger to working hard and eating well to improve performance.
200 g dried dates
100 g dried figs
180 g porridge oats
75 g nuts of any kind, I use pecans, hazelnuts, almonds and macadamia nuts
75 g chopped plums
2 tbsp ground flax seeds with goji berries
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs pumpkin seeds
1 tbs manuka honey
1 heaped scoop of vanilla protein powder
Preheat the oven to 200°C (gas mark 6/400°F).
Roughly chop the dates and figs. Pop them into a pan and cover with water. Simmer for 30 minutes until you have a sticky gooey mixture. Then put them in a blender to make a paste.
Meanwhile, spread the oats and nuts over a large baking tray and toast in the oven for 5-10 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Once the dates and figs are ready, pour them into a large bowl and add the ground flax seed and goji berries mix, plums and pumpkin seeds. Stir well to combine then leave to stand for 10 minutes. Turn the oven back on, this time to 150°C (gas mark 2/300°F).
Line a tin with baking paper, leaving an overhang of paper for easy removal. Stir the remaining ingredients into the bowl and mix well. Tip the mixture into the tin and press down well with the back of a spoon. Bake for 15-18 minutes.
Leave to cool before slicing into pieces.
Top with desiccated coconut, cacao nibs, pistachio nuts, raw cacao powder - the world is your oyster in topping, and then enjoy with a cuppa!