I adapted this recipe right from my cashew cookie hemp energy bars because I wanted to make a nut free alternative for those with nut allergies! My brother is sadly allergic to tree nuts, but not peanuts, and in trying to find convenience energy bars for him, I had hardly any luck. These peanut cocoa energy bars can give you a less sweet Reese’s like taste and are great for anyone who loves a PB + chocolate combo food (who doesn’t?). Like my cashew hemp bars these are a balanced snack to have in between meals or before a workout. I really like to make a batch of bars every week so we can easily add one to our lunch bag that we take to work.
For those of you who are still getting on your food prep game and might have a nut allergy, I was able to find several Clif Brand bars that per their website, are tree nut free (but not peanut free).
- Clif (original) Bars: Apricot, Chocolate Brownie, Coconut Chocolate Chip
- CLif Mojo: Peanut butter pretzel
- CLIF kid zbar protein: chocolate chip, chocolate mint
If you are concerned with any other allergies such as dairy, eggs, soy or wheat, use Clif’s allergen table to see what convenience snacks are safe for you. Now for the recipe!
Peanut Cocoa Energy Bars
Makes 12 bars
1 1/2 Cups raw or dry roasted unsalted peanuts
1 Cup raw pitted dates*
1/4 Cup hemp protein powder
1/2 tsp sea salt (omit if using salted peanuts)
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons raw cacao or cocoa powder
Optional: 1 tablespoon maca root powder
Optional: 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 to your food processor, dry first and liquid last.
-Pulse until all ingredients are pretty finely ground like in this picture, approximately 1-2 minutes.
If the mixture does not seem sticky enough add another 1/2 tablespoon of honey or even water.
-Next, pour whole mixture onto a large sheet of wax paper. Fold the paper over the mixture and begin to flatten our with your hands or a rolling pin. I roll mine out to about 1/2 inch thick. Once rolled out to desired thickness, flatten out the edges with hands.
-Cut the pieces evenly into 12 bars. You can obviously cut to larger or smaller if you want, but nutrition info below is for 12.
-Separate the bars and cut the large sheet of wax paper to wrap the bars. Throw one in your lunch bag or purse & store the rest in the fridge for up to 10 days.
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.
Peanuts are a good source of most B vitamins, especially niacin. They also provide vitamin E, minerals like copper and selenium, and the phytochemical resveretrol (you may have heard of this because it is in red wine) They are known for their heart healthy mono-unsaturated fats.
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; they highlight amino acid content here. 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.
Maple Syrup is a source of added sugar but can have some benefits if it is 100% pure and is used in moderation. it actually provides teeny amounts of calcium, iron, mangnesium & zinc. One study in 2010 found Canadian Maple Syrup to contain over 26 antioxidant compounds (1)!
Cacao powder is different from cocoa powder in that it is not processed with alkali which can remove some antioxidants and nutrients. When using cacoa, you are getting minerals like iron, magnesium and calcium which help regulate metabolism and keep your blood system and bones healthy. You also get some fiber, and phytochemicals theobromine, phenylethylamine and anandamine which have been found to support brain health and promote well-being.
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. It is most 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 tried Navitas Naturals brand mostly to see what the hype was about. 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.
1. J Agric Food Chem 2011 Jul 27;59(14):7708-16. Further investigation into maple syrup yields 3 new lignans, a new phenylpropanoid, and 26 other phytochemicals. Li L, Seeram NP.