First and foremost, this recipe is only 3 ingredients, requires no bake time, and is full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and healthy fats. It's the perfect motivation to get out of bed in the morning to workout. Now for another motivational story of my extreme competitiveness...
I played all the sports offered in grade school. Volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter, one season of baseball in the spring (I sucked, so I quit, duh!), cheerleading was thrown in there, plus I swam year-round. Summers were the best because 1) I didn't have to go to school, 2) sports camps happened and 3) we had weekend long swim meets.
I have always loved swimming. For me its relaxing, requires less effort than running, and I can swim forever without any boredom. I joke with Brian sometimes about what I think about while I swim. Sometimes I sing the one line I know of a song over and over. Sometimes I count aimlessly, losing my place constantly and starting at a new, random number. And sometimes I just daydream about vacations I want to take or more often than not what I will eat after my workout.; Some real existential and intelligent thought obviously.
I think my love for swimming stems from those summer meets. We would sign up for a ton of events in all the strokes, and also partake in some relays. Because there were so many teams and kids there were endless numbers of heats in each event, so you could sit around for hours before you were up to swim again. We would set up tents and lay out our towels in the sun. We would bring UNO cards and other games to play. We would listen to music and eat a ton of junk from the snack bar. More or less passing the time until our next event and heat was called, at which point we would sprint down to the blocks, dive in, and pull our bodies to the other end of the pool. As a kid it was so glorious to get to hang out with your friends all weekend, be outside, do a little bit of rigorous activity, and go home with a sunburn, crunchy chlorine hair, and some ribbons if you pulled hard enough to place.
Some meets were not as fun as others. I am permanently scarred from one horrible meet. I still cringe and want to cry a little when I think about this one meet. It was at an indoor pool in Pacifica, CA. I was probably about 9 or 10 years old and had been really hitting my stride in my age group and was thus feeling great about my swim career (I say "career" because I had a lofty goal of making it to the Olympics as a tween like Amanda Beard did at 14 in 1996). It was just one of those Murphy Law days... My first event was a 50m Fly. I was DQ'd because they said I didn't touch the wall with two hands on my turn (which is virtually impossible mind you!). I was so upset, my mom decided to treat us to Taco Bell (What? There's carbs and protein in there). One bite into my soft taco and I break my retainer which was attached to my molars with brackets. I followed all the rules of having braces: no gum, no popcorn, nothing hard or sticky or tacky. And much to my dismay, a freaking soft taco left one side dangling helplessly behind my teeth so I couldn't even eat comfortably. Devastating for a starving athlete. I had one more event in the day and was feeling down in the dumps, but it was my favorite event: the 100m Free.
I was sitting around waiting for my heat announcement and must have misheard or miscounted the heat numbers because all of a sudden my name, MY NAME, was announced over the loudspeaker because I was not at my block. I sprinted down to where I needed to be, jumped on the block and then was DQ'd for a false start. Too much adrenaline obviously pushed me off the block before the gun. I lost it. I cried and my coach, Talia, had to literally rock me back and forth in her lap because I was virtually inconsolable. That was the end of my swim career.
Just kidding! I swam for many, many years after that, but I definitely let my competitiveness and my NEED to win too seriously as a 10 year old. The fact that I still want to cry a little when I think about that day is unhealthy. I am just being honest with myself. I was definitely not going to the Olympics in any case, because there are a lot of swimmers in the USA...not because I didn't actually want to practice like Olympic swimmers do or anything. Now I just swim for fun! Aaaand to compete in triathlons. Still an unhealthy need to be the first out of the water even at 31.
Now to the recipe: these energy bars are soft enough that you shouldn't break any retainers. Plus, they are completely customizable. Use any nuts you have on hand and any other dried fruit you might like. In my batch, I used almonds and cashews and dried cherries for the antioxidant benefits.
The Recipe: 3 Ingredient Energy Bars
yields ~8 bars
The Bits and Bobs:
1/2 cup unsalted cashews
1/2 cup unsalted slivered almonds (use any combo of 1 full cup of nuts)
3/4 cup pitted dates
3/4 cup cherries (use any dried fruit)
Throw all the nuts into a blender or food processor. Blend up until just broken down and crumbly. Rough chop the dates if using a blender then throw them and whatever other dried fruit you are using in with the nuts. Blend until well combined and the mixture is tacky enough to stick together when pressed, but not so blended that its completely obliterated! You want to see some semblance of your nuts and fruits... ie should still be a tad chunky.
On a piece of parchment paper, press the mixture out into a square shape. Wrap the square in some foil and chill in the fridge for an hour or the freezer for 20-30 minutes. Cut into eight bars once chilled and store in an airtight container in your fridge.
- Total Calories: 136
- Fat: 5.2g
- Carbs: 19.4g
- Protein: 2.7g
- Sugar: 14.3g (natural/none added)
- Fiber: 1.8g