Power Up: Chocolate Peanut-Butter Energy Bars

It's hard for me write about being healthy and staying active after attending a wedding cupcake tasting. We wanted to try everything at Confections in Manassas, VA! The spirit was willing, but the flesh is weak. My tummy can only handle so many cupcakes in a single sitting. On top of that, I'm addicted to the theme music from "Downton Abbey" and all it motivates me to do is nap. 

The moral of the story: don't watch hours of British drama and stuff your face with sugar like some people. How's that horrible saying go... do as I say, not as I do?

I've always hated that saying. We all need our moments of  cake and stories as a reprieve. Be kind to yourself. That doesn't mean bombard yourself with bon bons; you don't want to have a one-night stand with ice cream that you'll regret the next day! We live in a society where sweets have been conditioned to equate to reward. That may have been true back in the day when a slice of cake was considered a delicacy. Nowadays you can simply go to a gas station and grab a candy bar. Reward yourself with nutrients. Tasty nutrients.

The (soon to be) hubby and I love going to the gym and being active. It's one of the characteristics that attracted us to one another. We met break dancing. We were always digging for spots to practice and staying till they kicked us out! The fun and frustration is in overcoming the challenge. I hate to admit it, but I am competitive which is why I don't like to compete with others. Who better than to have it out with than your greatest opponent: the self. It's never been about impressing others.

One problem we run into on a regular basis is the dinner-gym balance. After work, we like to go to the gym but that leaves the question of dinner in the air. Unless it was prepped the night before, we tend to feel rushed and a bit stressed. Well... at least I do! Nobody wants to eat dinner at 9pm! Plus, we're freaking starving and Mike's ready to eat the floor boards.

To help ease the pressure of dins, I am trying to bring better snacks to work. Breakfast is usually a hearty bowl of oatmeal with fruit, then lunch, and finally a little sweet in the afternoon. That's honestly not much fuel. When I stumbled upon these bars in Health magazine, I knew we had to give it a shot before hitting the gym!

Packed with peanuts and rolled oats, these are bars a 100% win. They taste delicious and they provide just the right amount of fuel. Mike was all about eating a bar on the drive over. Why are these so lovely? As Health magazine says, "these treats not only taste better than most energy bars, but the peanuts may help prevent a blood-sugar spike, and both dark chocolate and cranberries are great choices for heart health."

The recipe calls for barley flakes or rolled oats. Watch what kind of oats you select if you decide to go this route. The generic oatmeal type tend to be a bit thinner. Rolled oats are thicker and hearty! Don't worry about left over oats- they're perfect for oatmeal. If you can, try finding unsweetened dried cranberries to cut back on the sugar. 

As perfect as these bars were, I am curious to see how dark chocolate would taste instead of semi-sweet. I'm a big dark chocolate lover but  he tends to go for the sweeter varieties. Plus, I may substitute the peanuts for almonds as they are a nutritious nut too and there's already peanut butter in the mix; it's a thought. 

For the full recipe, check out  the article in  Health's Magazine's! They even provide a breakdown of the nutritional information.