I made a list of all the nuts, seeds, sugars and dried fruit I could think of and ranked them from high to low based on calories, fat and protein. The ingredients I chose are a combination of the highest amount I could economically formulate without compromising the texture or flavor.
The glycemic index is a rating of how quickly carbohydrates raise blood sugar. When sugar is ingested your pancreas reacts by releasing insulin, causing your blood sugar levels to spike. In order to combat that rise of sugar, carbs get used up fast which results in the dreaded “crash” afterwards. Fiber and fat slow down this fast burn but its better to avoid high glycemic sweeteners, these include refined and processed sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc. Honey is considered to be lower on the glycemic scale and choose whole dried fruit that doesn’t have any extra added sugar (HFCS). It does cost a little more to do it this way but it’s much healthier for you.
With this consideration in mind, you’ll notice chia seeds are on the ingredient list. These little bitty seeds are considered to be a superfood for many reasons. They are high in protein but also have an amazing ability to absorb liquid and plump up in size. Chia seeds help stabilize blood sugar levels because they gelatinize in the stomach, slowing digestion and sustaining your energy levels.
In order to increase shelf life its important that these ingredients remain as dry as possible, you don’t want any ingredients with a high water content. Another thing I don’t want to use is dairy which is why my recipe calls for cocoa nibs instead of chocolate chips. Cocoa nibs are simply crushed and roasted cocoa beans. These little morsels don’t have any dairy or sugar added but when mixed in with all the honey it still tastes like chocolate chips.
The recipe below sounds more complicated than it really is and I promise there is a valid reason for the steps. If you just add the honey to the dry ingredients without heating first they will always remain sticky and annoying to deal with in the field. You want to gently boil the honey to caramelize the sugars so that when it cools the ingredients will harden together. Use a candy thermometer to gauge the temperature because if the sugar gets too hot the honey will harden like brittle resulting in over crumbly bars that hurt your teeth, and if it’s too low it will remain too soft and sticky.
Finally, remember that these tasty little candy bars are really high in calories. Try to keep those greedy hands away when cooking in the kitchen and save them for the field when your body really needs them, although that didn’t stop me from having one or two while I typed this article up. Have a safe and happy hunting season this year!
Makes 12 large bars
Chukar Chasing Energy Bar
- 1 C. Steel Cut Oats
- 2 C. Almonds
- 1/2 C. Almond Meal*
- 1/4 C. Chia Seeds
- 1/2 C. Hemp Seeds*
- 1 C. Dried Cherries
- 1/2 C. Cocoa Nibs*
- 3 Pinches of Salt
- 1 C. Honey
- 2 t. Vanilla
- Parchment Paper
- Candy Thermometer
Line a 1/4 or 1/2 sheet tray with parchment paper. If you want thick bars use the small tray and fill to top or use larger sheet pan and spread for thinner bars. Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees.
Use a food processor, blender or chopper and pulse the almonds until you reach a coarse consistency. Place in a large bowl and add the oats, almond meal, chia seeds, hemp or sunflower seeds, cocoa nibs and salt. Use a knife and roughly chop the dried cherries and add to the bowl. Mix well and set aside.
In a small sauce pot heat the honey and vanilla over medium-low heat. Insert a candy thermometer and watch the temperature as you gently boil. Once you have reached exactly 250 degrees remove from heat and slowly pour in to the bowl with dry ingredients, stirring continuously. Mix the liquids into the dry well using a spatula and then press into the parchment lined sheet tray. Be patient with this step and press into all of the edges trying to level out into an even layer without any gaps.
Bake for 20-30 minutes to set. Remove and let cool to the touch, they will begin to harden at this point. Lift the parchment off the sheet pan and onto a cutting board and slice into even rectangles. Use a spatula to separate each bar and flip over onto another clean piece of parchment paper to let the bottom side, which might be sticky with honey, dry out. Leave these sitting out to fully cool and dry for at least a couple hours or longer. Cut rectangular pieces of parchment paper out and layer a sheet in-between each bar to store inside of a ziplock bag.
These bars should be shelf stable for well over a week or two.
* Substitute almond meal with peanut butter powder or take extra whole almonds and grind in food processor/blender until you reach a powder consistency.
* Substitute hemp seeds with Sunflower Seeds/Pepitas
If you can’t find cocoa nibs or don’t want to use it you can substitute with mini chocolate chips but beware a shorter shelf life and potentially a melting mess in hands.
17.83 g Fat
10.45 g Protein