The Search for Animal Chia Bars
(Chia bars with dark chocolate, coconut, and almond butter)
Prep time: 10 minutes. Bake time: 15 minutes. (Allow one hour to cool.)
I’ve been waiting to use this pun for a long time. If you’re new to the game and haven’t seen The Search for Animal Chin, do yourself a favor and go watch it. The Search for Animal Chin was a 1987 Bones Brigade video that centered around the Powell-Peralta team (then consisting of rippers like Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, and Tommy Guerrero, to name a few) traversing skate spots around the U.S. in search of the alleged creator of skateboarding, the wise “Animal Chin.”
As hungry skaters looking to optimize our time on the board, we also embark on a seemingly endless search—the search for the right kind of pre-sesh snack that (1) will fill us up without weighing us down; (2) give us both quick and sustained energy; (3) have ingredients we can pronounce; and, perhaps most importantly, (4) won’t taste like the seven plies of maple under our feet. Much like how the Bones Brigade spent weeks searching for the wise, ancient Animal Chin, I also spent weeks searching for a (snack-)wise, ancient (grain) energy bar to fill this void. Enter The Search For Animal Chia Bars.
From a high-level view, these bars have both simple and complex carbs to give you that initial boost of energy and keep you sustained for a few hours, healthy nut- and grain-based fats to keep you feeling satiated, and a little extra protein to help your war-torn legs recover from a punishing sesh. The operative ingredients here are going to be the chia, quinoa and oats, but the almond butter, coconut and dark chocolate will add a moistness that will turn those crunchy grains into delectable, chewy energy bars. Here’s what you’re getting with these power grains:
Oats: I’ll jump out on a limb here and guess you know what oats are. Just know that quick/instant oats (as opposed to rolled or steel cut) are “fast” carbs will get you the quick energy you need to start your sesh off with a bang.
Chia Seeds: These seeds are not only packed with omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, iron, and calcium, but they are also a complete source of protein as well. As a bonus, chia seeds “gel” in your stomach, which will help you feel fuller for longer.
Quinoa: quinoa is another ancient grain that is high in iron, B-vitamins, and fiber, as well as a complete source of protein. The protein/carb ratio in quinoa makes it ideal for powering through a longer skate session.
Add in the ground flax seed, dark chocolate, coconut, and almond butter, and you’ve got a fully charged battery to jumpstart your session.
Let’s get cooking.
- 1 cup oats (quick cook oats will work fine)
- ½ cup dry quinoa (I use tri-color quinoa, but white quinoa will work just the same)
- ½ cup whole chia seeds
- 2 tbsp ground flax seed
- ½ cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)*
- ½ cup almonds (chopped, crushed or diced)
- ½ cup (vegan) dark chocolate morsels
- ¼ cup + 2 tbsp agave syrup
- ½ cup creamy almond butter
*“But wait,” you say, “I don’t like coconut!” If coconut isn’t your thing, feel free to substitute another dried fruit instead. Any dried fruit should keep the bars moist and composed, but you’ll be trading off some of the fat in coconut for more carbs in other dried fruits. Additionally, if almond butter doesn’t appeal to you, or if you want to save a couple of bucks, regular creamy peanut butter will work just as well. Lastly, if you can’t find agave as a low-glycemic sweetener, pure maple syrup will work too. Just be aware that pure maple syrup doesn’t mean Aunt Jemima; if it doesn’t say “pure” on the bottle (which is very often a glass bottle), then stick with the agave.
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. While that’s preheating, pour all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and whisk them up so that all the ingredients are evenly mixed. There’s no specific order to adding them, just mix them up like an indiscriminate “friends” section in the middle of a Zero video.
2. In a separate mixing bowl, mix the wet ingredients and stir until the agave and almond butter are blended together. Microwave the mix of wet ingredients for one minute, then pour the mixture into the dry ingredients and stir it up with a spoon so that it’s all clumped together and there are no rogue grains of quinoa or chia seeds rolling around. Once the wet ingredients start to cool off, you may want to get a little more tactile and use your hands, as it will be more difficult to stir. If that’s the case, a little coconut oil on the hands will keep the mix from sticking to your fingers.
3. Pat the mix down into a parchment-lined 8×8 baking pan so that it’s evenly spread to the edges and relatively compact (make sure you use parchment paper, otherwise you’re looking at sticky mess stuck to the bottom of the pan). Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the quinoa and oats look just slightly toasted. Take the pan out of the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before throwing it into the fridge for an hour.
4. Take it out of the fridge, and cut into 12 bars. These can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a week.
5. Eat one and then go shred for hours.
Makes 12 bars; 1 bar (50g) = 280 calories, 15g fat, 30g carb, 8g protein
- Johnny Lozano