Energy bars

I'm no fan of eating directives in general, but I 'm rather fond of Michael Pollan's directive "Eat food".

When we started reading ingredient lists, we noticed that the cheap energy bars we were eating (especially in Lent, when one doesn't take cupcakes or biscuits to school) contained too many things that definitely weren't food. Artificial sweeteners, artificial flavours, lots of chemical-name and E-number things we didn't recognise-- I'm very "if I don't know what it is I don't want to eat it" if it isn't obviously an exotic plant or animal. More expensive energy bars weren't much better, until you got to the really high-end luxury kind that cost as much as the whole rest of the lunch.

So I went hunting around the web and found a recipe for vegan energy bars that I can't find any more, but that this is a less fussy and holier-than-thou adaptation of.


depending on the size of your baking tin, use a teacup, mug, or measuring cup.


my staple is golden syrup, but honey or maple syrup or whatever fits the rest of your ingredients will do. It should be viscous but not too stiff.

Nut butter:

plain or crunchy peanut butter (as natural as possible) is okay, but will make the bars very peanutty. If you don't want that effect and can get any other kind of nut butter --I mostly use almond-and-hazelnut-- it's worth trying.


  • Sticky stuff:
    • 3 parts syrup or honey
    • 2 parts nut butter
  • Floury stuff:
    • 5 parts rolled oats
    • 3 parts whole wheat flour
    • 1-2 parts wheat germ
  • 3 parts crunchy stuff
  • 3 parts fruity stuff
  • any or all of powdered cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger (don't skimp)
  • possibly a little water

Crunchy stuff:

any of coarsely chopped nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine kernels, coconut, peanuts, chocolate chips, alone or in combination.

Fruity stuff:

any dried fruit in raisin-sized pieces. I've had much success with only crystallised ginger, with almonds and sunflower seeds as "crunchy stuff".


Mix syrup and nut butter until well blended. Stir in oats, flour, wheat germ, spices, crunchy stuff and fruit. If the mixture seems too dry, add water 1 teaspoon at a time. If it is too sticky, add rolled oats or wheat germ 1 teaspoon at a time. The mixture should be slightly sticky, but still easily spread in a pan with greased fingers.

Line a shallow rectangular metal baking pan with baking parchment. Press the mixture into it. Bake at 350°F/180°C until barely browned, about 25 minutes.

Cut into smallish bars (they're very filling) while still warm, but leave in the pan. When completely cool, turn the whole thing out and break along the cuts. Wrap each bar individually in plastic or aluminium foil and store in a tin or other airtight container. The bars can be frozen, but keep equally well outside the freezer and get better as the flavours blend.