Homemade Energy Granola Bars and Rice Cakes for Athletes

I recently began a lifestyle change of eating only whole foods (minimally processed foods and no flour) and needed to find food that could be a substitute for traditional sports/energy bars which I ate very often. I’ve experimented with more than a few bar recipes and have found the following to be the best for me. Try them, experiment with what works and adjust the ingredients to suit your needs. If you have any suggestions, come up with an awesome substitution, or have any other ideas please post them in the comments section below. These are great for cyclists, runners, triathletes, hikers, and even yogis!

Typically I take 1 bar per hour I plan to ride my bicycle. So for a 3 hour ride I’ll take 1 rice cake and 2 “energy” bars. For 4 hours on the bike I’ll take 2 rice cakes and 2 of energy bars (or a potato or two) and typically use the granola/peanut butter bars for a snack when I’m at work or not exercising, but they are still good for a ride. When racing, during intervals or when the going gets tough, and your heart rate is 170, higher or even blowing out your head, sometimes there is nothing other than a gel that will go down.

I have to say, Eddie Borysewicz had it right with his old school methods of nutrition in his book Bicycle Road Racing, serving ham and jelly sandwiches and real fruit and food to his athletes. Everyone who wants to race a bike should get this book. It’s not a cook book, so I never really got into the foods he mentioned, although I just picked up a copy of The Feed Zone Cookbook by Allen Lim and Biju Thomas, which I highly recommend for any athlete. It’s all too easy just to grab a Clif Bar, Power Bar or Honey Stinger. It may be organic but does it look like food? Does it taste savory and delicious?

Leah Vande Velde’s Energy Bars

These energy bars are great! I found this video first when searching for home made energy bars on google/youtube. These energy bars are sweet, delicious and packed with calories and sugar for on the bike, run, hike, swim energy. Be forewarned, they are packed with calories!

The only modifications I’ve made to her recipe, to make these even better for putting in my pocket, was to cut the applesauce amount in half and eliminate the 2 tablespoons of milk and I add 2 cups of puffed cereal (wheat, rice, millet, etc) to help soak up some of the liquid to create a more balanced consistency. These were awesome when I used black strap molasses.

My modified Ingredients:
– 3 cups of uncooked Oatmeal (Quaker Oats)

– 2 cups of plain puffed grain cereal

– 1 cup of dried mixed fruit, chocolate chips, fruit bits, or favorite ingredient

– 3/4 cup of brown sugar or molasses

– 1 cup Honey

– 1 cup of yogurt

– 1/2 cup of applesauce

– 2 egg whites, lightly beaten

– 2 teaspoons of vanilla

– 1 teaspoon of baking soda

– 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

Combine the ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Spread out in a lightly greased baking pan and bake @ 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 28-30

Let them cool, cut and wrap them. These store really well in the freezer.

Rice Cakes & Boiled Potatoes

Man, these rice cakes are good! Watching this video and eating these changed my whole outlook for on the bike nutrition as well as sports nutrition. These savory rice cakes are a great way to get good calories as well as break up the monotonous and all too often sweet flavors of traditional sports food.

Pay special attention to the wrapping techniques, as it is very useful for the other recipes. I’ve used wax/parchment paper, plastic wrap, and aluminum foil, sran wrap and the best of these is foil lined parchment paper. Target sells Reynolds version and “martha wrap” is another version of parchment lined foil and it’s also really good. Be sure to also, check out this sweet version of his rice cakes.

Allen Lim’s Potatoes Rock! I’m continually amazed at the delicious and nutritious food I’m now eating on the bike and just tried boiled potatoes for on the bike carbs. You can bake or boil them, remove the skin under cold running water. Mix with olive oil, salt and some cheese, then wrap them up and put them in your pocket.

No Bake Granola Energy Bars

These bars are a sweet and salty snack that are packed full of whole grain goodness and energy. I wrap them individually and take them with me to work, on a bicycle ride or when I know I will want a snack. The keep really well, taste great cool or room temperature and contain nothing that will spoil.

Cook Time

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 20 min
Ready in: 35 min
Yields: makes 8-12 bars


  • 2 Cups Oatmeal
  • 1 Cup Peanut Butter, or other nut butter
  • 2 Cups Chopped Dried Fruit, Raisins, Dates, Figs, Apricots, etc
  • 1/2 Cup Salted Roasted Peanuts
  • 1/2 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 2/3 Cup Honey or Agave Nectar
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 1/2 cup Ground Flax Seed
  • 1/2 cup Oat Bran, uncooked Quaker oat bran hot cereal
  1. Measure and mix dry ingredients (oatmeal, flaxseed, oat bran, chocolate chips, peanuts) Stir in dried fruit. Mix in peanut butter and vanilla. Stir until everything is mixed evenly.
  2. Line a baking pan or other container with wax or parchment paper. Spoon in your mixture and refrigerate for approximately 20 minutes or until cool.
  3. Once chilled, turn the pan over and let the chilled mixture fall onto a cutting board, slice into bars, wrap them in plastic/parchment and enjoy! Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

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