Power Into the New Year!
I have always been a fan of power bars. As a busy collegiate student athlete, I stuff my backpack with three or four bars each morning and always manage to eat all of them before the end of the day, more often than not as a mid-class-stay-awake snack. Bars are expensive however, and when I buy them in bulk I get sick of the repetitive flavors (peanut butter, chocolate chip, peanut butter chocolate chip…) long before the box runs low.
Enter Camilla V. Saulsbury and her newest book, Power Hungry. Camilla introduced me to something I had never even considered – making power bars from scratch. With clear directions and simple ingredients, Camilla allows her reader to create healthy, delicious bars with quality ingredients. Each recipe includes enough variations to keep your palate entertained for months: blueberry gingerbread, apricot ambrosia, Indian spice carrot, and yes, a few peanut butter and chocolate recipes, just to name a few.
I’ll admit, I was initially skeptical about some of the recipes. Anything that calls for kale or agave nectar immediately sets off my crunchy-alert sirens. But Camilla has such a straightforward approach, explaining the benefits and drawbacks to obscure ingredients and suggesting more familiar alternatives, that even my simple butter and sugar soaked sensibilities were soothed. When I decided to make a recipe (the almond apricot variation of Friend Bars), I was shocked by how no-nonsense the recipe actually was. I was surprised to find that I had most of the ingredients on hand (no small thing in a shared college kitchen), and the recipe was so clear that the bars were assembled and in the oven in less than fifteen minutes.
Twenty minutes later I pulled the bars out of the oven and placed them on the counter to cool. Snacking on a small piece on my way to cross country practice, I was enthralled by the smoky sweet flavor of the apricots and the meaty crunch of the almonds. The bars had all the heft of a power bar, convincing you that you’re getting real fuel for your body, with the taste of an addictive snack. I couldn’t wait to have more. Unfortunately, by the time I returned from practice two hours later, the other girls in my house had devoured the entire batch. Time to make more bars!
Brianne Mirecki is a student and runner who attempts to bake gourmet treats in less-than-gourmet college dorm kitchens.