Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lizbar's (aka Homemade Power Bars)

Ben takes the GRE today.  I am so excited, anxious, proud and nervous for him - all rolled up in one crazy little bundle.  I am both eager and on edge.  And I'm not even taking the damn thing.  I don't even know how he is managing.   Actually, he's probably managing a lot better.  He's a little less excitable than I am, and on top of that, he has more than prepared.

I am very proud of him and how he came at studying for the test.  It has been a long time in the making.  He has been extremely dedicated, carting his studying material (including the 5 pound book of questions!  Which, title aside, actually weighs closer to 6 pounds) to each of our last 3 vacations.  Making time to study while I go play with our nephew or nap in a hammock.  Spending many weekend afternoons tucked away in the spare bedroom or studying in the car while I drove.  He has been beyond committed, and I find myself constantly impressed and beaming with pride.

If I were a fiance that was a little more on top of her stuff, this is the exact snack that I would have made for Ben to eat right before the test.  Overloaded with nuts, whole grains (yay for oats!) and just enough espresso powder to give you a little jolt, I imagine they are great kick-butt-on-standardized-tests food.  Unfortunately, I am not the fiance that's on top of her stuff, so luckily for me, they also work great as pre-gym snacks as well.  So that is what Ben is getting for finishing his test - a large batch of Lizbar's, made with love, to help him ease his way back into the gym rat he misses being.

So, today I sit at my desk in Rockford, anxiously tapping my foot, knowing that this is something completely out of my control.  And it will drive me nuts until I get that long awaited call this afternoon to tell me he is done and that he did great.

Lizbar's (aka Homemade Power Bars)
Adapted from 101 cookbooks

These are also fabulous for those afternoons that at 2 PM you can't imagine staring at a computer anymore.  They are lightly sweet, have just the right small bit of caffeine and, if you add chocolate, just about perfect for giving your behind the little swift kick it needs to get you through the day.

The recipe is very adaptable.  Add whatever nuts you want or have on hand.  Throw some seeds in there too, if you'd like.  Add some dried fruit if you get the feeling.  And, really, you can't go wrong with a few mini chocolate chips sprinkled on top.

Lastly, I usually use my 9x13 pan for this.  It makes thinner bars, similar in size and thickness to a Clifbar.  If you like yours thicker (think size and thickness of a Quaker Chewy bar), go for a 9x9.

Coconut oil, for greasing
1 c. walnuts, chopped
1 c. chopped almonds
2/3 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
1 1/4 c. rolled oats
1 1/2 c. unsweetened crisp brown rice cereal
1 c. brown rice syrup
1/4 c. natural cane sugar (sugar in the raw)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp espresso powder
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 c. mini chocolate chips

Preheat your over to 350.  Generously grease a 9x13 pan with coconut oil and set aside.  On a rimmed baking sheet, toss walnuts, almonds and coconut.  Toast in the over for 5-7 minutes, until coconut is golden.  Toss a few times to avoid the nuts and coconut burning.

In large bowl, combine toasted nuts, coconut, oats and cereal.  Mix well.  It is easier to evenly distribute the ingredients now, then it will be after pouring the syrup over them.

On the stove, in a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the wet ingredients (brown rice syrup - vanilla).  I find it easiest to handle/measure/pour the brown rice syrup if I heat it up for a few seconds in the microwave first.  Bring mixture to a slow boil, stirring constantly.  Continue to cook, while stirring, another 4-5 minutes, until the syrup thickens slightly.  Remove from heat and pour over nut/oat mixture.  Stir (slow and gentle!), until syrup covers the nuts and oats completely.

Pour into prepared pan and lightly push down.  Wait a few minutes for mixture to cool, then sprinkle chocolate chips on top and lightly push into bars.  Let cool to room temperature (a few hours).  Flip out onto cutting board and cut into 16-24 bars.


  1. Yay, I got a notification about this!

  2. These sound (and look) seriously amazing! I may have to try my hand at these this weekend. Ben will do awesome! Can't wait to start hearing about the schools you guys are thinking about.

    1. You should! The batch I made for Ben last night had dried cranberries in it - it was fantastic. And fingers crossed Ben did great, he should have an idea of his score when he finishes (in 15 minutes... not that I have been watching the clock like a hawk or anything...). I can't wait to start looking at schools!


Question, Comments, Dreams, Aspirations? Or just want to say hi? I'd love to hear from you! (Getting a comment is like getting a card in the mail, it makes your day!)