Mixing Up Homemade Energy Bars

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - August 18, 2005
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Amanda Schull is coming home again, as she has for past productions of Nutcracker, to star in Ballet Hawaii’s Coppelia at the Blaisdell Concert Hall Aug. 20 and 21 (See the MidWeek cover story.)

Amanda and her fellow dancers will need great stamina for all the rehearsals and performances, so she shares her own recipe for energy bars with MidWeek readers.

Peanut butter, as defined by the U.S. FDA’s Standard of Identity, must consist of at least 90 percent peanuts with no more than 10 percent by weight seasoning and stabilizing ingredients.

“Natural” peanut butter does not have the stabilizer so the oil will separate and should be stirred back in before using.

“Peanut butter spreads,” a relatively new category now allowed by FDA, contain only 60 percent peanuts, but are nutritionally equivalent to peanut butter.

Both unopened and opened jars of peanut butter may be stored at room temperature. Keep the jar tightly closed and store in a cool place. Storage temperature affects product quality. Excessive heat will accelerate the loss of fresh flavor and cause oil separation. Cold temperatures, even above freezing, can change peanut butter’s consistency, texture and thickness. Peanut butter may be refrigerated to retain the product’s optimum flavor, but it will be hard to spread. Freezing is not recommended.

The “Best When Purchased By Date” stamped on peanut butter jars is the date that assures the best product quality and allows for a reasonable period of storage and usage two to three months at room temperature ) after that date. Although food spoilage bacteria don’t grow in peanut butter, it will gradually become stale over time and lose its freshly roasted taste when exposed to air.

The best guide to freshness is to simply smell and taste it. The average American household consumes about six pounds of peanut butter a year, totaling about 570 million pounds.

Peanut butter contains heart healthy monounsaturated fat, and also contains protein, fiber, vitamin E, niacin, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B1, riboflavin, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, zinc, calcium and potassium.


• 3 cups granola (any simple flavor)
• 3 cups crispy rice cereal
• 1 cup dried cranberries
• 1 cup raisins
• 1⁄2 cup sunflower nuts
• 11⁄2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
• 3⁄4 cup sugar
• 11⁄4 cups honey
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 (16-ounce) jar of smooth peanut butter

Combine cereals, cranberries, raisins, sunflower nuts and chocolate chips in a large bowl. Combine sugar and honey in a medium pan and heat over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Add vanilla and peanut butter, stir until peanut butter melts.

NOTE: It is very important that the peanut butter melt into a liquid consistency or bars will not form properly.

Pour liquid ingredients over cereal mixture and mix together well. Press mixture into a greased baking pan (about 15-by-10-by-1). Cool completely and cut.

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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