Powering your vacations, one bar at a time

Jenna Cho Almond peanut butter power bars

Vacations. So good, yet so potentially bad for your eating habits. If you're anything like me, you take your vacations seriously and tend to overindulge on everything. Shopping, dining, snacking. Especially snacking.

So acceptable lunches become McDonald's meals on the road, and snacks become bags of potato chips and mounds of chocolate malt balls, maybe both at once. Because they're there. Because you're temporarily free of all obligations.

If your near future involves some time sitting in a car or idling in an airport, as I am right now, or if you're going on a nice long hike and are looking for something healthy to snack on, pay heed. This is the homemade power bar that revolutionized my last road trip, that satiated fleeting hunger pangs and I didn't want to be weighed down by a whole Clif bar with all 240 calories.

These bars are so tasty. So simple and easy to make. So satisfying to eat. I love that there are only five ingredients, and most of them are pantry staples. I love that you are the master of your own bar — you can make these any size and shape you want, and they have just what you want to put in your body, no more, no less. They're just sweet enough, just chewy enough that you'll be thinking dates but not getting overwhelmed by them.

I like to shape these into small squares, about 1½ inches by 1½ inches. They're slightly crumbly, so some time in the refrigerator before hitting the road will serve them well. I kept them in a plastic container, as I didn't want them to lose their shape while hanging wild in my bag. You could also wrap each bar individually with some plastic wrap or foil. They'll keep for several days.

Almond peanut butter power bars (but technically called "peanut butter bites")

From www.sproutedkitchen.com

1 cup almonds

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup pitted dates

Heaping ½ cup peanut butter

2 pinches of salt (if using unsalted peanut butter)

In a food processor, grind the almonds into a coarse meal. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until combined. The final result will be slightly crumbly but will hold together once you pack them into shape.

To shape, scoop a small fistful and flatten to about a ½ inch thickness. Shape into desired width and length.

Cover and keep in the refrigerator until travel time.

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