They’re easy, nutritious—and delicious!

It’s late afternoon, and your get-up-and-go is gone. So you do what many of us do—you reach for an energy bar. These bars sound healthy enough. But the problem is that many are not.

They often are short on fiber and protein and contain way too much sugar and too many “empty” carbohydrates and calories.

There is, however, an easy solution—making your own healthy (and delicious) energy bars! Even better, these bars don’t require any baking.

Recipes for energy bars that are not too sweet and packed with important nutrients and protein…

HOMEMADE ADVANTAGE

Store-bought energy bars usually contain 140 to 300 mostly empty calories each.

However, the nutritious energy bars described here have approximately 200 calories each (give or take, depending on the ingredients used) but are worth consuming because they are filled with fiber and healthy fats. Each bar also provides about 6 g to 8 g of energy-boosting protein.

To get started, line an eight-by-eight-inch baking dish with plastic wrap, making sure to leave a few inches of overhang.

For each of the recipes in this article, you will press the mixture into the baking dish and chill in the refrigerator until firm (usually about 30 minutes). Once the mixture has been chilled, hold the plastic wrap where it overhangs the dish and pull up to pop out the uncut energy bars.

Cut the firm mixture into 10 portions, and wrap each one tightly in plastic wrap. You can store the bars in the refrigerator for up to three weeks or freeze them for up to three months.

Note: Bars that contain cooked quinoa will need to be eaten within a few days if they’re not frozen.

OAT ENERGY BARS

1 very ripe banana, mashed

1½ cups instant or quick-cooking oats

½ cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

½ cup chopped, unsweetened dried fruit of your choice

½ cup maple syrup, agave or honey

½ cup natural nut butter of your choice (or sunflower butter if you have a nut allergy)

2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine all the ingredients for this recipe in a large bowl (you may find that it’s easiest to mix these ingredients with your hands).

For even more protein: Add ½ to 1 cup (depending on taste) of cooked quinoa. Or you can add ½ to 1 cup of a plant-based protein powder. I recommend a “no flavor” protein powder, such as VegaOne.

For extra fiber and healthy fat: Toss in a handful of chia seeds or hemp seeds.

CHOCOLATE QUINOA ENERGY BARS

1 cup cooked quinoa

⅓ cup raw sunflower seeds

1 cup instant or quick-cooking oats

⅓ cup chopped, unsweetened dried cherries

¼ cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

⅓ cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 Tablespoons almond butter

½ cup cacao nibs (for crunchy flavor) or bittersweet chocolate chips

½ teaspoon sea salt

In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, sunflower seeds, oats, dried cherries and unsweetened coconut. Mix well, then stir in the maple syrup, vanilla extract and almond butter. Finally, stir in the cacao nibs or chocolate chips and sea salt. Table salt can also be used, but I prefer sea salt since the trace minerals left behind in the evaporation process provide extra flavor. If you prefer a mild sweet-salty flavor, use salted sunflower seeds.

GUILT-FREE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE DOUGH ENERGY BARS

These grain-free bars contain dates, which give them their sweetness and provide the texture needed to hold all the ingredients together.

½ cup dry-roasted almonds

½ cup raw cashews

2 Tablespoons almond or peanut butter

1⅓ cups pitted dates

½ cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

⅛ teaspoon sea salt

2 Tablespoons cacao nibs or bittersweet chocolate chips

½ cup unsweetened dried cherries

Process the ingredients in a food processor until fairly smooth but pasty. Refrigerate—and enjoy!