We still seem to be in the middle of some kind of polar vortex-ish weather here in the United States. For me, here in Texas, that means my tennis matches are being rained out on a regular basis. So when that happened again today, I decided it was finally time for me to try my hand at making my own tennis bag-friendly “Healthy Homemade Tennis Energy Bars.”
As you probably know, I've always advocated bringing some type of snack along to your matches and eating something when your energy starts flagging, especially as you're going into that third set. (You can see more on that topic by checking out this post – Quick Tennis Fix: Bring Your Own Snacks). I've been wanting to find a good recipe for this type of snack for a while now, especially when I realized the bars I was buying to keep in my bag for matches were costing me at least $1.00 each, sometimes more! And they didn't always taste that great and the ingredient list was often kind of scary.
So today was the day for me to try out a few different recipes to come up with my own “Healthy Homemade Tennis Energy Bars” recipe. I did a little research to find out what works best for putting these types of bars together but ultimately wanted something that would (1) taste really good, (2) make it through being beat up inside my tennis bag, (3) not melt when it gets hot outside (if that ever happens again), and (4) actually be healthy. Here's what I ultimately came up with (the recipe is at the very end of this post):
First, I used these ingredients: dried Medjool dates, unsalted almonds, almond butter and semi-sweet chocolate chips. I began by chopping up the dates in my food processor so I could make sure I had the consistency of those right before adding the other ingredients. I wanted them to be chopped up but not too finely. I then threw in the almonds, almond butter and chocolate chips and pulsed until I had a sticky concoction that held when I mushed it together with my fingers. That all looked like this:
I “prepared” a pan by lining it with parchment paper which is something I have laying around. You could do the same by lining your pan with foil. This is going to make it easier to take the energy bar mixture out after it sets. I poured the mixture into this prepared pan and then spread it out and pressed it down with my fingers. I even folded the parchment down to press the mixture even more. Here's what that looked like:
Yes, it is a well-used dirty-looking pan. I then covered the pan with plastic wrap and stuck it in the refrigerator so that it would set up (get a little harder). I took it out after only about 30 minutes which was plenty long but you could leave these bars in there longer. I just wanted them to be hard enough to slice without potentially falling apart. I lifted the bar mixture out of the pan and was able to slice this into 8 bar size slices. Ta-da!:
So they look pretty (as you'll see in the next photo) and they taste delicious! Not too sweet and made from just four ingredients. I will be testing out different versions of this recipe especially as the weather gets better and I'm spending more time on court (fingers crossed!). Here is my arty-foodie pic with parchment paper and string but the reality is these babies will be put into plastic sandwich bags and stored in my tennis bag:
Now, if you're ready to try this super easy, super healthy recipe, here you go. Let me know if you make these and how they turn out.
Healthy Homemade Energy Bars Recipe
Makes about 8 servings
- 1 cup pitted dates (whole dates work best)
- 1/2 cup whole almonds (roasted, unsalted is best)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons almond butter
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Line an 8 inch by 8 inch baking pan with parchment paper or foil. Place dates in a food processor and pulse until the dates are in large chopped, pea-sized pieces. Add almonds, 2 tablespoons of almond butter and 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Pulse again until finely chopped. Press mixture between your fingers to see if it holds. If the mixture won't hold together, add another tablespoon of almond butter. If the mixture seems too sticky add remaining chocolate chips. Pulse again until finely chopped. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Spread and press the mixture into the pans using your fingers. Cover pan with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least an hour. Remove pan from refrigerator. Lift mixture from pan using parchment paper or foil and place on cutting board. Slice into 8 bar size slices or 16 square slices. Store slices in plastic sandwich bags in individual servings – 1 bar or 2 squares.
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