How to Make Homemade Energy Bars

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Packed with healthy carbs and dried fruit, these homemade snacks are ideal before a run. Even better, they're fast and simple to make--no oven required.

The Creator: A member of the Hansons-Brooks long-distance running team who placed eighth at the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials, Dot McMahan wanted a quick and simple treat that would help her refuel on the go. She found a recipe online and adapted it to create these bars.

"I eat them anytime I need a small meal, but I especially like them when I want something before training in the morning," says the 32-year-old McMahan.

At press time, McMahan was about to deliver her first baby. "I'm planning to make a post-pregnancy comeback," she says. "I'd like to make the Olympic team in 2012."

The Nutritionist's Take: Matthew G. Kadey, R.D., says because these bars are high in fast-digesting carbs--dried fruit, syrup and brown sugar--they're ideal pre-run snacks. They're high in calories, so don't eat them as an everyday snack.

Bonus: The cherries have natural oxidants that improve muscle recovery in athletes and the nuts and peanuts have heart-friendly unsaturated fat.

Energy Bars

? cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts
? cup roasted sunflower seeds or other chopped nuts
1 cup raisins, cranberries or other chopped dried fruit
1 cup chopped Michigan cherries
2 cups rolled or instant oats
2 cups toasted rice cereal, such as Rice Krispies
? cup creamy or crunchy natural peanut butter
? cup packed brown sugar
? cup light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Combine peanuts, sunflower seeds (or other nuts), raisins (or other dried fruit), cherries, oats and rice cereal in a large bowl.

In a second microwave-safe bowl, combine peanut butter, brown sugar and corn syrup; microwave on high until bubbling, one to two minutes. Add vanilla and stir until blended.

Pour the peanut butter mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until coated. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Coat your fingers with cooking spray and then press down firmly. Let stand for about one hour to harden. Cut into 16 bars.

Individually wrap bars in plastic and keep at room temperature for up to one week or freeze for up to one month. Thaw at room temperature.

Nutritional Info Per Bar: 300 calories; 10 g fat (1 g saturated, 4 g monounsaturated); 48 g carbohydrate (4 g fiber, 22 g sugar); 8 g protein; 72 mg sodium