Aztec Energy Bars

The newly introduced Aztec Energy Bars at chic Viceroy Zihuatanejo on Mexico’s Pacific coast have quickly become a hit with fitness-conscious guests – and the favorite after-workout pick-me-up at the resort’s gym. They are prepared with oats, nuts and dried fruits, but what really sets them apart is a traditional Mexican grain – the nutritional, and gluten-free, powerhouse of amaranth that was a staple of the ancient Aztecs. Amaranth was a food of the gods in the Aztec world, representing as much as 80% of their caloric consumption and used in ritual drinks and dishes. It held such sway over the Aztecs that the Spanish outlawed its cultivation after the conquest.

These Aztec Energy Bars are easy to make at home, particularly since the magical amaranth grain has been discovered by nutritionists and foodies in the U.S. (it has more protein than wheat, low carbohydrate content and is rich in amino acids, fiber, calcium, magnesium and iron) and can now can be found in health- and specialty-food stores or online.

Viceroy Zihuatanejo’s executive chef, Paco Isordia, created this recipe to reward guests who commit to working out while on vacation, jumping into everything at the resort from martial arts classes and yoga instruction to stand-up paddle boarding, fly-boarding and the well-equipped gym. He drew inspiration from the various uses of amaranth in Mexico today.

A paradisal on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Viceroy Zihuatanejo is nestled on one of the country’s most beautiful and pristine beaches, Playa La Ropa, on tranquil Zihuatanejo Bay. The enchanting two-story adobe-inspired casitas, housing 46 luxurious suites and guestrooms, are tucked in gentle hills above the picturesque fishing village of Zihuatanejo. The garden landscape is rich with coconut trees, rainbow-hued bougainvillea and vibrant hibiscus. The resort’s exquisite white-sand beach stretches for 600 feet along a gorgeous coastline. Guests enjoy massages and treatments at an intimate spa in a lush tropical setting, fitness center, yoga program and an array of activities from water sports to cooking classes.

Moonbeam Bars and Energy Bar Cookbook Givewaway

Sales of energy bars have sky rocketed from moms on the go, home chefs, casual or endurance athletes, teens, and just about everyone. I  am so excited about the new book, Power Hungry, The Ultimate Energy Bar Cookbook, by Camilla V. Saulsbury as she challenges store-bought snacks with 150 fabulous homemade bar recipes. Her recipes are 100% soy free and highly adaptable for gluten free, vegan and even Paleo diets. In this recipe for Moonbeam Bars, the brown crisp rice base renders the bars light and crisp, while the additions of oats and protein power lend enough substance to stave off hunger for hours. Nut (or seed) butter adds depth and subtle natural sweetness, and of course a thin schmear of white chocolate, dark chocolate, or Greek yogurt coating tops things off in the most delicious way (you could leave it off…but why?).

I am giving away 3 copies! YES 3!! To win a copy of this cookbook, tell me your favorite healthy go-to snack. A winner will be drawn randomly on October 30th at 8 a.m.

For more chances to win do the following and leave a comment letting me know you did:

1. Like Ingredients, Inc. on Facebook

2. Follow Alison Lewis on Twitter

2. Follow Alison Lewis on Pinterest

CAMILLA’S BAR TIPS

  • I mean it when I say firmly compact the bars. Press, press, press, and then press again! Thirty seconds of effort will pay off with bars that hold together every time.
  • If you don’t want to use protein powder, you don’t have to; simply increase the total amount of oats by 2 tablespoons. Alternatively, you can add 2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal or 3 tablespoons of nonfat instant milk powder.

BAR KEEPING

Tightly wrap the bars individually in plastic wrap.

ROOM TEMP: 2 days
REFRIGERATOR: 2 weeks
FREEZER: 3 months in airtight container; thaw 1/2 hour

 

BAR VARIATIONS

ZESTY LEMON OR LIME BARS

Prepare as directed but omit the cranberries; use any flavor nut or seed butter except peanut. Use 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon or lime zest in place of the orange zest. Add 1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice along with the salt. Use the White Chocolate Bar Coating (see below).

JOY OF ALMOND BARS

Use almond butter for the nut butter and omit the cranberries and orange zest. Reduce the total amount of crisp rice cereal to 2 cups and to it add 1/2 cup unsweetened flake or shredded coconut, chopped. Add 3/4 teaspoon almond extract along with the salt. Use the Chocolate Bar Coating (see below).

CHOCOLATE-COVERED CANDY
CANE BARS

Use any flavor nut or seed butter except peanut. Omit the cranberries and orange zest and add 1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract along with the salt. Use either the Chocolate Bar Coating or White Chocolate Bar Coating (see below).

WHITE CHOCOLATE MACADAMIA BARS

Use any flavor nut or seed butter except peanut and omit the cranberries and orange zest. Reduce the total amount of crisp rice cereal to 2 cups and to it add 1/4 cup roasted macadamia nuts, chopped. Add 1 teaspoon pure maple extract along with the salt. Use the White Chocolate Bar Coating (see below).

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE BARS

Prepare as directed, but omit the cranberries and orange zest. Use an equal amount of lightly packed all-natural, sweetened chocolate protein powder in place of vanilla. Add 1 tablespoon natural, unsweetened cocoa powder along with the salt. Use the Chocolate or White Chocolate Bar Coating (see below).

CHOCOLATE OR
 WHITE CHOCOLATE COATING

MELT 1/3 cup semisweet, bittersweet, or natural white chocolate chips in a microwave or double boiler according to the package directions.

WHISK in 2 teaspoons virgin coconut oil until blended

SPREAD or drizzle over cooled, uncut bars. Alternatively, dunk the ends of cut bars and place on an unlined cookie sheet.

REFRIGERATE for 30 minutes until the coating has hardened.

MAKES enough to coat one 8- to 9-inch pan of bars (double the recipe for a 9 by 13-inch pan)