When I was growing up in Tennessee, I didn’t know how unusual it was to go to church so much. The church I grew up in met for two hours per weekend and sometimes had special double-services days, so those days had four hours of services. And then there would be mid-week Bible study, Friday night Bible study and so on. My friends who were part of traditional Southern churches, regularly went to two services on Sundays and every Wednesday night, as well.

If we were not able to make a service, we looked for an alternative, such as listening to a sermon tape, working on a Bible correspondence course installment or even setting aside the missed-church day for a time of personal Bible study and prayer. It was not an option to miss the opportunity to be spiritually fed.

Now that Ivan and I are focused on eating as healthily as we can, missing a meal is not an option, either. And each meal needs to be as nutritious as possible and contain the best ingredients at our disposal. I was reading the lengthy ingredients list on the wrapper of our current favorite meal-replacement bar and realizing that it does not fit into our paradigm at the moment. Since it was the most healthy one I have been able to find, I wondered what we would do now!

With our travel schedule, having a healthy meal-replacement bar is pretty important. We have learned that when we travel for long periods of time, eating in restaurants for three meals a day is not a very healthy thing to do. I decided to experiment with making my own energy bars and the result appears below.

If you make my Healing Body Bars, please share your feedback and any alterations you make that turn out yummy. I’m going for gluten-free, low glycemic and high protein.

Beth’s Healing Body Bars

Oven setting: 350 °

Serving size: 12 bars

Ingredients List:

2 cups gluten-free oats

2 Tbsp. flax meal

½ cup gluten-free flour baking mix

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 sea salt

1/3 cup raw pistachios, shelled and chopped

1/3 cup mixed raw nuts, crushed

1 ½ oz. raisins

2/3 cup raw almond butter

¼ cup raw agave syrup

¼ cup date syrup*

1/8 cup grapeseed oil

Toast gluten-free oats on a cookie sheet in a 500° for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Shake the cookie sheet every 2 minutes to avoid burning the oats. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly while mixing the dry ingredients together. Adding the toasted oats while warm will soften the almond butter and that will enable your ingredients to be combined more thoroughly.

Mix flax meal with gluten-free flour baking mix (I use Red Mill), cinnamon, and sea salt. Stir in shelled and chopped pistachios, mixed nuts, and raisins. Add the toasted oats. Add almond butter and incorporate dry ingredients together well.

Whisk together agave syrup, date syrup and grapeseed oil. Pour into dry ingredients and mix until the ingredients begin to stick together.

Press the batter evenly into a small cookie sheet and smooth the top. It should be about ½ inch thick. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cut into bars while still warm. Loosen from the pan and allow the bars to cool completely before wrapping in wax paper.

Bars may be kept on the counter if you plan to consume them quickly, or put into the fridge for about 2 weeks.

*To make date syrup, simmer pitted dates barely covered with filtered water in a sauce pan for about 5 minutes. Allow to cool and process until smooth in a food processor. Store in glass jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Notes: you can vary the type of nuts you use and add other spices, such as nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice and/or cloves. You may omit the raisins or use chopped dried figs, sulfur-free dried apricots or other chopped dried fruits according to your tastes. I don’t recommend dried cranberries, as it is nearly impossible to find unsweetened cranberries. You may wish to add unsweetened coconut flakes. And honey may be substituted for one of the sweetening agents, if you prefer.

There is a lot of room for variety with this recipe. Just be sure your batter holds together somewhat before pressing it onto the cookie sheet, or you will end up with a tasty granola, but not energy bars!