Energy bars: delicious & diabetes-friendly!

by Cynthia

Editor’s note: This is a guest post for the American Diabetes Association. It will be featured in the ADA Tour de Cure’s Twin Cities July Red Rider Reader.

New Note (added after original publishing): I mentioned in the original post that I would try making pumpkin maple bars in the future. I made some last night and they were a hit! They were so very good that I will definitely make them again! After posting a picture of them on Facebook last night, I had several requests for the recipe. I have updated this post to reflect the addition of Pumpkin Maple Oatmeal Bars (seen below the Banana Chocolate Almond Bar recipe!)

Hello Red Riders! How is your summer going? Did you enjoy the Tour de Cure this year? I had a blast! It could not have been a more perfect day – weather wise and everything else too. Plus we raised a lot of money to help STOP diabetes. Yay! We had 1,805 riders and so far raised more than $630,000! Woohoo! It is wonderful to see so many people come together for a great cause. And as someone living with Type 1 diabetes I sincerely appreciate each person’s hard-earned efforts helping us move closer to a cure for diabetes. It fills my heart with so much gratitude and hope. I’m already looking forward to next year! June 1, 2013 is the date. Mark your calendars!

I received a special request for this month’s recipe for the Red Rider Reader – ENERGY BARS!! I thought this was a great idea as we are out cycling and active this summer. A healthy energy bar is an ideal snack for anyone before, during or after cycling or any other exercise. Thanks for this fabulous suggestion Janeece Oatman! Janeece is the amazingly talented and passionate Associate Director for the Twin Cities & Rochester, Minnesota Tour de Cure rides.

Once the request was made, the search was on for the perfect energy bar recipe! What I found? Many were just too sweet! Two cups of sugar in an energy bar? No thanks! This much sugar is not necessary or even healthy for anyone! Others were more like a dessert bar and not the least bit balanced or nutritious. None of them provided the nutrition and energy needed for a successful training ride — especially for someone riding or exercising with diabetes.

You can imagine my delight when I found the recipe I am about to share with you. It not only uses just 1/4 cup honey (or sweetener of your choice) but is loaded with protein and fiber and a nutritious amount of carbohydrate and fat. I also LOVE that the recipe includes oats! Yum! (for an oat sensitivity consider using quinoa flakes). I chose to use almond flour as 50 – 100% of my dry base ingredient to reduce the carbohydrate amount and increase nutrients. Almond flour is a super-food after all! What you get is an energy bar that is not only great tasting but also healthy and perfectly successful at maintaining good blood sugar levels with exercise. They are also just an all-around good snack that will not wreak havoc with your blood sugars but will actually hold them at a good level. I have been (happily) eating them in the days leading up to this post and been amazed at my steady blood sugars and how satiating they are too!

The best part of the recipe? It can be tailored to be what you like! You choose your bean, binder, soft sweet fruit, extract, dry spice, dry base ingredient and stir-in! (Click on link for The Ultimate Energy Bar Formula to find multiple examples of each ingredient you could use). No one will ever guess that they have beans in them — making them healthy and moist. The result? A totally yummy energy bar made exactly to your liking that can be switched up depending on your mood! Perfection! I made up two versions — Cranberry Coconut & Banana Chocolate Almond in preparation for this post and both were received with rave reviews! They received comments like, “I love how moist they are!” “Not too sweet!” and “Ooh, these are really good!”

Cranberry Coconut Energy Bars

Here is a link to the original recipe by No Meat Athlete called The Ultimate Energy Bar Formula. Below are the two versions of energy bars I created with their energy bar formula. Ingredients can easily be chosen for this recipe that are gluten free (the two recipes shown below are both gluten free). As mentioned above, if you are intolerant of oats, try quinoa flakes as a substitute. Also worth noting – there is a spreadsheet in the original post by No Meat Athlete where you can enter in the nutrition facts of the ingredients you choose to calculate the nutritional values (grams of carb, fiber, protein etc) of these bars.


  • 1 can garbanzo beans, strained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 10+ drops Stevia (if desired for more sweetness)
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free oats
  • 1/2  cup rice protein powder + 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut + 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup filtered water (this may not be necessary for you, add water sparingly at end to achieve good consistency)


  • 1 can black beans, strained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup Barney Butter (almond butter that tastes like peanut butter)
  • 1/4 cup mashed banana
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 10+ drops Stevia (if desired for more sweetness)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free oats
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut + 1/2 cup slivered almonds + 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup filtered water (this may not be necessary for you, add water sparingly at end to achieve good consistency)

Pumpkin Maple Oatmeal Energy Bars


  • 1 can garbanzo beans, strained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (I filled the 1/2 cup measure cup 1/3 full with pumpkin and poured maple syrup in to make 1/2 cup).
  • 10+ drops stevia (if desired for more sweetness – with less maple syrup I wanted the bar a little sweeter & used 10 drops)
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (for stronger flavor – add more to taste. It was too late for me to add more spice so I sprinkled pumpkin pie spice generously on top of the bars just before putting them in the oven to bake – this turned out great!).
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free oats
  • 1  cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut + 1/2 cup slivered almonds + 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup filtered water (this may not be necessary for you, add water sparingly at end to achieve good consistency)

From No Meat Athlete:

In a food processor, combine beans, binder, sweetener, soft fruit, extract, spice, and salt until smooth.  Add the oats and dry base ingredients and pulse just to combine.  Add stir-ins and pulse again just to combine.  If the consistency seems spreadable, you’re good.  If it’s too dry, add 1/4 cup of water; if it’s too runny, add an additional 1/4 cup of the dry base ingredient.

Grease 13×9 pan with baking spray or rub with 1 tablespoon oil, then spread mixture into pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

Note: You’ll have the most success if you use unsalted, unsweetened versions of the ingredients, and control the sweetness and saltiness through the sweetener and added salt.


Special notes about preparation & baking: For both recipes I had to add about 1/2 cup filtered water at the end as it was a little too dry. My oven also required me to bake them a little bit longer – for about 25 minutes. For version two I followed the steps in the recipe until I got down to adding in dry base ingredients. I mixed in the almond flour but waited to add the oats until the very end when I lightly pulsed them in with the stir-ins I used. I like the chunky texture of oatmeal in my baked goods. The protein powder in version one gave the bars a distinct “protein powder” taste and reminded my husband and I of the Power Bars we used to eat in the 90’s.

I hope you enjoy these delicious, healthy and easy to prepare energy bars as much as my husband, friends and I all have! I am looking forward to making pumpkin maple energy bars next! (recipe found on link to original post). Have fun experimenting in the kitchen and creating your own perfect energy bar! I would love to hear all the wonderful combinations you come up with – please share with us in the comments section below! Happy training!

Blessings, light and love,


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Cynthia celebrated her 25th year of living with Type 1 diabetes in February, 2012. She loves yoga, cycling and long walks with her husband & dog Jonah. She participated in her first ADA Tour de Cure in 2011 and had an amazing experience as a Red Rider. She is also passionate about behind the scenes stuff to make the Tour a success and currently serves on several sub-committees. Please send her an email ( to learn about some of the ways you can help with the Tour de Cure & meet a lot of fun and passionate folks too. Cynthia loves meeting new people — so please say “Hello” on June 1, 2013! Happy riding!



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Ed February 22, 2013 - 2:04 pm

These look wonderful, but I’d like it if you could include nutritional information.

jean April 3, 2015 - 10:24 am

WE really do need nutritional information to ensure it’s in our guidelines. Can you help?


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