Cranberry & Pecan Power Bars

Do you have a little voice inside your head that tells you what to do?  Does it tell you things like eat your greens!  Or, get off this couch – NOW!  Or, stop looking at that pizza like that!  ‘Cause mine does.  Tell me about your little voice; I promise I won’t judge.
The little voice inside my head kicked my butt through 42 miles of cycling on Saturday.  Up and down and up more hills, through long winding flat road, and even through a little bit of rain.  That voice pushed me to go harder.  Sometimes that little voice sounds a lot like Jillian Michaels.  I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.
Lucky for me I made these delicious and energizing power bars before my ride.  It wasn’t until I started doing long bicycle rides that I understood the point of the power bar.  Before this summer, I had never done a workout longer than 2.5 hours and I didn’t realize how badly your body needs carbohydrates and glucose during long workouts.  Having a nutritious and healthy snack during a long ride or workout really makes a difference.
 
The original recipe called for rice cereal, but I substituted puffed millet and also added in some quinoa flakes for a little extra protein.  There is a lot of room for substitutions and adjustment on this recipe so feel free to get creative.  These bars are chewy, nutrient dense, and definitely keep your energy up.  I also love them with a cup of tea for breakfast or as a post-workout snack.  
Cranberry and Pecan Power Bars
Adapted From Enlightened Cooking
Makes 12 bars

1 1/4 cup puffed millet cereal
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking oats
2 Tablespoons quinoa flakes (optional)
2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed (flaxseed meal)
1/3 cup dried cranberries (or another dried fruit)
1/4 cup cup chopped pecans (or another nut)
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup almond butter (or any nut butter of your choice)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the millet, oats, quinoa flakes, flaxseed meal, cranberries, and nuts in a large bowl.

Combine the syrup and almond butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until melted and well-blended.  Stir in vanilla until blended.

Pour almond buter mixture over cereal mixture, stirring until coated (you will probably have to get your hands in it to thoroughly mix it).  Press mixture firmly into an 8-inch square pan (sprayed with nonstick cooking spray) using a large square of wax paper to really tamp it down.  Cool in pan on a wire rack and chill at least 30 minutes to help it set.  Cut into 12 bars, wrap tightly in plastic, and store in refrigerator. 

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