Healthy Homemade Energy Bar Recipe
These healthy homemade energy bars are made with the adaptogen Organic Sun Eleuthero to help you increase energy and fight stress.
By Brandi Black, RHN
Let’s face it: when you’re stressed out, you’re more likely to reach for a chocolate bar or bag of chips than a healthy homemade energy bar. While your mind may tell you to make the healthier choice, the sugary, calorie dense foods almost always win when you’re stressed out. But I have news: the sugar cravings are not your fault. In fact, one of the most common symptoms of stress are sugar cravings, which also suggests you have elevated cortisol levels.
Cortisol: The Stress Hormone Behind Your Sugar Cravings
Cortisol is often referred to as “the silent killer.”
Cortisol is a stress hormone released by your adrenal glands in response to stress and life-threatening situations. While it’s literally meant to help save our lives, cortisol is only meant to be used by your body in short-term situations, such as running from a panther. When cortisol lingers in your blood for long periods of time, it starts to cause inflammation throughout your body, which is an underlying cause of many chronic illnesses and diseases (1).
Elevated cortisol has also been linked to premature aging, irritable bowel syndrome, panic anxiety disorder and depression (2)(3).
Now, of course, not many of us are being chased by panthers on a regular basis. Instead, our main sources of stress come from work, being stuck in traffic, juggling too many activities in one day, relationships, and managing finances. Your body can’t tell the difference between the type of stress you’re experiencing: it simply releases cortisol to help you cope with any form of perceived stress.
In the short term, elevated cortisol levels can cause other symptoms that may not be considered life-threatening, but prevent you from feeling in balance with your health and wellness, such as sugar cravings.
According to research, high fat or high sugar foods have been shown to have a feedback mechanism in the brain that turns off or “blunts” the activity where stress and emotion is produced (4). In this sense, high caloric foods act as a defense mechanism against painful emotion, which may explain why some of us are more likely to gain weight when we’re stressed out.
Now, if you’ve experienced sugar cravings, you know they can come on suddenly, and intensely. Personally, I can recall a period in my life where I was under a lot of stress from working every evening and going to nutrition school full-time during the day. There were moments my sugar cravings would be so persistent, I’d dig my nails into the couch— and do whatever it took not to have that chocolate bar (although, there were times I just gave in).
While a little sip of that milkshake, or a bite of a donut may seem harmless enough, refined sugar may only contribute to worsening your stress levels. Processed sugar, spikes and crashes your blood sugar levels, which may lead to hormonal imbalances and exhaustio (5). Refined sugar also depletes your body of the essential vitamins and minerals that improve your natural wellness and fight stress, such as calcium and magnesium (6).
Experiencing stress is simply part of being human— none of us are exempt from it. Whether or not you crave sugar when you’re stressed out, we could all use an extra boost of nutrition to help manage the stress that comes up in our day to day lives.
That being said, here’s a delicious and naturally sweet energy bar recipe you can make to help fight stress. With ingredients like coconut and lime, it’s full of antioxidant vitamins and minerals. And, of course, this energy bar recipe also contains the powerful, mighty, stress-busting herb: Eleuthero.
What is Eleuthero?
Often referred to as “a king among herbs,” eleuthero (also known as siberian ginseng), has been used for centuries for reducing the negative side effects of cortisol, and helping the body cope with stress, while improving mental focus and energy levels.
Eleuthero belongs to a class of herbs called adaptogens, which get their name by helping us to “adapt” to changes in our environments. Many athletes also take eleuthero to promote long-lasting energy without the jitters and sharpened mental focus.
You can take eleuthero as a nutritional supplement, and drink eleuthero teas, such as Infuse Your Mood Tea. My favorite way to get eleuthero in my diet is by adding Sun Eleuthero Extract to my snack and dessert recipes, such as these Sun Eleuthero Energy Bars.
In addition to the nutrients listed above, these healthy energy bars are high in protein, which balances blood sugar levels and helps reduce cravings for sugar. These bars are gluten and dairy free, and only contain sugar from natural sources, such as dates and unsweetened coconut, making them a great breakfast bar, post-workout snack— and something you can feel good about munching on when sugar cravings hit.
Now, for the recipe.
Healthy Homemade Energy Bar Recipe with Organic Sun Eleuthero
● 2 cups cooked quinoa
● 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut + extra to sprinkle on top
● 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
● the juice of 2 freshly squeezed limes
● 3/4 cup dates, soaked for 1-2 hours with pits removed
● 2 tbsp Sun Eleuthero Extract
● 1/2 cup raw almond butter
● 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted + extra to grease the baking sheet
● optional: for extra protein, add 3 tbsp of your favorite vanilla protein powder
● also optional: top with a touch of nut butter (sunflower seed butter on top of these...I have no words for just how good that tasted!)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Place all ingredients except the quinoa in your food processor and blend until smooth.
3. Add mixture and cooked quinoa in a large mixing bowl.
4. Once all ingredients are combined, grease an 8 x 8 glass baking dish and place the mixture evenly throughout the dish, and sprinkle additional coconut.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until slightly golden around the edges.
6. Let cool and enjoy! These bars can be individually wrapped in plastic wrap as a quick grab-n-go stress-busting snack, or stored in the freezer for later. Keep refrigerated in a glass, airtight container.
It’s always important to check in with a licensed healthcare practitioner before adding a nutritional supplement to your diet.
About Brandi Black, RHN
Brandi Black is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist from Vancouver, B.C. Experiencing her own health challenges at a young age led her to become passionate about educating on the healing properties of food, and how to achieve hormone balance, clear skin and sustainable weight loss naturally. In her spare time you'll find Brandi writing in her blog and hanging out with her teacup chihuahua, Coconut.
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