Almond Butter Granola Bars

If you are not in the mood of hear me bleating about my marathon training, please skip to the next paragraph. It's fine, really!!! You are not missing much. I ran 24 km yesterday, or 15 miles. I was on the road for 2 1/2 hours. I just completed week 3 in my 12-week marathon training, and this was my weekly "long and slow run". This whole marathon training is taking its toll: it is very time-consuming as I run 5 times a week. Those runs which take up between 1 to 3 hours per training day, have to be chopped off somewhere else. I manage, but I can feel that a few hours in the day are missing. I get the obligatory things done, but forget about watching TV at night, emailing or phoning friends and family, surfing the Net as comprehensive as I used to. Thank God, I never really got into Facebook and Twitter, although I have accounts for both, it would have been my virtual death. I definitely need more sleep since I started training, up to 1 hour more per night. Reading a few pages in my book before switching off the light at night, has become a struggle. By the time I get ready for bed, I am already sleepwalking. With regards to the runs, the long runs are the toughest: both mentally and physically. I don't like to listen to music while running. Therefore, to keep me busy I constantly negotiate with myself whether to make this long run a shorter one, and do the long run on another day. I constantly calculate my speed and distance, as I only run with a regular stopwatch. Now the worst: one hour after the long run, I can't walk anymore. Last week, I couldn't get into my pajamas at night as I wasn't able to stand on one leg. This week it wasn't as bad, but I can still feel yesterday's long run in my legs, as it definitely affected my patience with the kids. Those poor little kids had to deal with quite a moody mama today. And that was only 24k/15miles, far away from the 42k/26miles that I want to run in January. Alright, enough moaning. Now a few good things.
At least, my marathon nutrition seems to be working well. I don't have any problems with what I eat before, during and after my runs: I eat 2 hours before a run. During the run I normally eat nothing. For the long runs I have raisins or dried dates in my pocket. They provide quick carbs and take any funny tastes out of your mouth. Straight after a long run (anything longer than 1 hour), I try and have small bowl of cornflakes and milk as soon as possible, to support a quick recovery of the muscles, followed by complex carbs/whole grains and veggies/fruit a little later. That's all there is to it.

Because my energy consumption has increased since the start of my marathon training, I have been eyeing granola bar recipes as my hunger for snacks increased accordingly. I never used any nut butters in my granola bars before, but was up to trying this now.
Many of the nut butter granola bar recipes asked for lots of honey, syrup or other kind of concentrated sweeteners. I wanted to keep it as natural as possible and used mashed bananas instead. The dried fruits would hopefully provide enough sweetness, I thought to myself. Out I took the almond butter that had been sitting in my pantry for several months. It worked out beautifully. These bars are packed with goodness: almond butter, bananas, almonds, seeds, rolled oats and dried fruit. Tasty and filling. The perfect snack between meals to keep hunger at bay. Definitely a keeper. Next thing will be to make my own almond butter.

(Print Recipe)

1/2 cup almond butter
2 bananas, mashed

1/2 cup whole almonds
1/4 cup dried apricots
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup mixed seeds (eg. pumpkin, sunflower... whatever you have at hand)
1 cup rolled oats

Yields 12 bars
Preheat oven to 160C/350F. Line wide loaf tin with parchment paper.

In a small pot heat almond butter and mashed bananas. Stir gently until well combined. Set aside.

In a food processor, coarse chop the almonds, apricots, raisins and cherries. Transfer to a bowl. Mix in seeds and oats. Fold in the almond butter mixture. Press the batter into prepared loaf tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool before cutting into bars/squares.

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