A few weeks ago, Chris presented me with a challenge: to create an energy snack he could take along on road and mountain bike rides that wasn’t full of weird, carby fillers or dried milk products. That wasn’t as simple as a fruit and nut bar (dammit, but those are going off like rockets right nuuuur!). That wasn’t extruded from some extrude-y machine-a-majiggy.
Natch, my mind went straight to, well, brownies. (Ding!) I know I crave sugary chocolate with ferocity when I’m active. And cheesy bread and garlicky noodles and salty, soft-boiled eggs. But let’s start with chocolate.
These little bars are so easy, you guys. You just take a whole cuppa good, semi-sweet chocolate chips and bust those up with some oats (gluten-free, if you’re so inclined). Then blitz alla that stuff with some cacao, a little coconut oil, a sprinkling of sea salt and a canna beans.
Yep, a canna beans.
Black beans, to be exact. Super weird, right? But it kinda makes sense. They’re smooth, proteiny and they melt right into the chocolate when the whole shebang goes into the oven. You can thank Rocco for the inspiration. He actually has a black bean brownie recipe in his Now Eat This! cookbook that I could never get to taste…not like black beans. But the idea stuck, and whether it’s the ratios here or the fact that we’re unabashedly using kind of a lot of REAL chocolate alongside the beans, it actually works.
Now to get everything to stick together. Have you ever used chia seeds? They’re those little neutral tasting power foods that kinda look like frog eggs when they’re suspended in bottles of kombucha at Whole Foods. (Yum, right?) They’re also super filling, packing a fair amount of good stuff like protein, fiber and omega-3’s. Turns out, they’re also a great vegan binder (egg substitute) when ground up and mixed with a little water. Yes, they end up a bit like a boogery science project, but they work like a charm in bringing these simple bars together. Bingo bango.
From there, alls ya gotsta do is add a generous handful of roasty toasty ‘stacios to the mix for a little crunch, throw the whole thing in the oven and call it a day! You’ve got a densely delicious, vegan, non-extruded, no-weird-stuff-except-for-natural-weird-stuff energy bar that Chris has confirmed is tasty — and effective — nutrition on the trail. Noice.
Hope you guys like these little dudes as much as Chris! (Lemme know whatcha think, yeah?)
Have a great week!
Note: These bars come together with the help of 2 chia “eggs,” which can be used in place of actual eggs in all sorts of vegan baking projects. Just combine 2 T of ground chia seeds with 6 T of water (the rule is 1 T of ground chia to 3 T of water per egg) and allow to sit 5-10 mins before use. Easy! Also, these can easily be made gluten-free if you make it a point to choose gluten-free oats. And lastly, it’s important to note that these bars are not low-fat, low-sugar or low-calorie, and they’re not intended to be. Read all the way down to the bottom of the recipe for the nutrition specifics. Enjoy!
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 chia eggs (see note)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cacao powder
- 1 T coconut oil (plus extra, for greasing)
- 4 T unsweetened fruit juice or water
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup roasted, salted pistachios, plus extra for scattering
- coarse or flaked sea salt for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a loaf pan with coconut oil.
Combine chocolate chips and oats in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped, about 10-15 times. Add black beans, chia eggs, cacao, coconut oil and water or fruit juice and pulse until almost smooth, scraping sides down as necessary. Turn out into a large mixing bowl and fold in pistachios. Transfer to loaf pan, spreading mixture evenly. Scatter with small handful of pistachios.
Bake in preheated oven for 60 mins, rotating once at the halfway mark.
Allow loaf to cool completely before loosening with a spatula and turning out onto a cutting surface. Sprinkle with sea salt and cut into 8-10 bars.
Keep bars wrapped in foil in the fridge. Enjoy within one week.
Per serving — 8 bars: 314 cals; 15g fat; 8 g protein; 37g carbs; 18g sugar; 9g fiber
Per serving — 10 bars: 251 cals’ 12g fat; 7g protein; 29g carbs; 14g sugar; 7g fiber