Oats are one of my favorite foods of all time, and over the years they are probably the most common ingredient in many of my recipes. Aside from porridge, I really love to try out new variations of homemade granola bars. Recently, I’ve been using bars as a quick form of recovery after hard runs or races. With races especially, I often find it difficult to eat anything offered at the post-race party that might help me start the recovery process in a timely manner. Common post race offerings include bagels, bananas, pancakes, and sometimes pizza, which are all great carbohydrate-rich foods that I cannot eat. Making these bars and stowing them in my bag are the new way to go!
The Sports Nutrition literature recommends eating a post-workout recovery meal or snack with a ratio of carbohydrate to protein of 3 – 4:1. Eating a food or meal in this range helps with muscle glycogen re-synthesis. That’s science speak for sugars in the muscle. Adding amino acids (the building blocks of protein) to the carbohydrate mix also help with muscle protein synthesis. If the muscles begin getting re-fueled and rebuilt quickly, they will recover and be ready to get back out there sooner!
In addition to fitting within the recommended carb to protein ratio range, these bars also contain turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon. Turmeric has been used for centuries in India. It contains a compound called Curcumin which has often been lauded with potent anti-inflammatory actions. Ginger also has been known to reduce inflammation and it helps settle the stomach. I’ve been struggling with a minor injury all summer and my stomach often begins to feel like I just stepped off a carnival ride after a hard run, so the addition of turmeric and ginger help the recovery process just a little bit more. With the addition of cinnamon, the flavor combination also just plain tastes good, and for that alone, I’d mix these spices in!
These bars are healthy, filling, easy to make, and can be eaten any time of day, even if you’re not an endurance athlete. I’ve also been throwing them in my lunch box all summer to eat between meals when I need a snack.
If you’re really interested in the bars’ nutrient break-down, I’ve included it at the end of the post. For more on healthy inflammation-fighting foods, check out this article from Runner’s World.Turmeric Ginger Seed + Nut Bars These can be adapted in infinite ways by changing up the types of dried fruits, seeds, and nuts. I also enjoy subbing out half of the oats for puffed rice or millet. The dash of black pepper will help the turmeric absorb and become more bioavailable, so don’t leave it out.
- 3/4-1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups rolled oats (use certified gluten-free if necessary)
- 2/3 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ginger
- 1/2 tsp. turmeric
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- dash of black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a square baking dish (approx. 8″ x 8″) or line with a piece of parchment paper so the bars are easier to lift out.
- In a large bowl, stir together the vanilla, 3/4 cup applesauce, and spices.
- Place the oats into a food processor and pulse until they are coarsely chopped, but still have a fair bit of texture. Then stir them into the applesauce mixture.
- Add the nuts, seeds, and raisins to the applesauce-oat mixture until thoroughly combined, and add a little more applesauce if needed.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and press down with the back of a spatula or spoon until it is compacted and even.
- Bake for about 15-20 minutes until the bars are firm and lightly golden along the edge. Wait until the bars are cool and then slice into squares or rectangles. This makes 16 small bars (~100 calories each) or 8 larger bars.