Video: Big Sur Power Bars Recipe

A homemade powerbar recipe packed with lots of toasted nuts and coconut, crisped rice and ground espresso beans. Video how-to as well as written instructions.

Video: Big Sur Power Bars

I wrote a homemade powerbar recipe for my last book, and it's one of those recipes I never get tired of. Wayne and I spent a few days in Big Sur last week so I made a batch with a few twists. The Big Sur version is packed with lots of toasted nuts and coconut. The crisped rice is flecked with a sizable dose of ground espresso beans. It has been a while since I've shared any video, so I thought I'd share some of the footage from our trip, along with a show-and-tell of how the powerbars come together. The written recipe instructions are still down below.

Video: slightly larger version

Let me know if you have ideas for other twists on this recipe - I was thinking toasted walnuts, cocoa powder (to turn them chocolate flavored), and even more espresso than I used in this version. Sam did a beautiful version here (with a lovely photo).

Related links:
- We stayed at the fantastic Treebones Resort in a yurt. (ask for #15 or #8)
- This is the state park you see in the video, we hiked the Ewoldsen Loop.
- For those of you looking for a no bake, high-protein, high-fiber bar (it is sweetened with agave nectar and stevia instead of sugar) have a look at Elana's version.
- Allen of Eating out Loud's hickory nut, blueberry, and flax seed version.

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Big Sur Power Bar Recipe

If you can't find the crisp brown rice cereal, no worries - just use regular rice cereal for ex: Rice Crispies - just stay clear of "puffed" rice cereal, it will throw the recipe off. Feel free to substitute other types of nuts, seeds, or whatever little goodies you can dream up.

1 tablespoon coconut oil (or regular butter)
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup slivered almonds
2/3 cup (unsweetened) shredded coconut
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups unsweetened crisp brown rice cereal
1 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup natural cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2 tablespoons ground espresso beans
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking pan with the coconut oil. If you like thick power bars, opt for an 8 by 8-inch pan; for thinner bars, use a 9 by 13-inch pan.

On a rimmed baking sheet toast the pecans, almonds, and coconut for about 7 minutes, or until the coconut is deeply golden. Toss once or twice along the way. Mix the oats, toasted nuts, coconut, and the cereal, together in a large bowl and set aside.

Combine the rice syrup, sugar, salt, espresso, and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir constantly as it comes to a boil and thickens just a bit, about 4 minutes. Pour the syrup over the oat mixture and stir until it is evenly incorporated.

Spread into the prepared pan and cool to room temperature before cutting into whatever size bars you desire.

Makes 16 to 24 bars.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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Great looking power bar: adding shelled hemp seed will up the protein and add even more nutty flavour.


Wow, what a great idea! I honestly never thought about making your own power bars. It's so hard to find ones in the supermarket that 1) taste good, and 2) are good for you. Thanks!

Jen O

Thank you for this post. Big Sur is one of my favorite places on Earth; I actually wept at the natural beauty the first time I was there. I must try this recipe. I'm thinking ideas for a protein boost could include hemp nuts or crispy soaked and dehydrated buckwheat groats. Mesquite powder could be a wonderful addition for it's toasty malted flavor and fiber-filled punch.

Heidi R

I love such bars and your recipe is very tempting! Great video! Cheers, Rosa


Hi Heidi, I'm planning to try these power bars tonight.. do you know how long they would keep at room temp? I'm considering shipping some to a friend along with a batch of buttery chocolate chip cookies (they can cancel each other out.. hmm..) Thanks!


Could you tell me what are expresso beans ? What are they useful for ? For those who do not want too much sugar, you can add dried fruits such as grapes or apricots and no sugar but still some rice syrup (maybe less) as it helps digesting the oats.


I could really use this recipe when I start going on long bike rides in the spring. Thanks!

the vegan blog tracker

Any substitute for the coconut? I love these bars as I am wheat intolerant and my husband is a diabetic so he can eat them also but I do not eat coconut


I love this recipe! I just made it yesterday and added a couple of spoonfuls of cocoa powder and dried cranberries. My husband can't get enough of them. Thanks for this awesome recipe!


This was great! I'd love to see more of your travels/cooking. Well worth the view. Thank you! Marilyn


I can't think offhand of a way to bind them using no sugar at all, but has anyone tried ramping down the sugar? Could we leave the 1/2 cup cane sugar out and just rely on the syrup? Sweetness is less important to me than protein content.

vegetarian weight lifter

I just loved your video. Very well edited! I'll definitely be making these for my next camping trip. Thanks!


Hi Heidi If possible you're even cuter out loud than you are in your writing :-) Loved the video and can't wait to make the bars later on today. If Sam ever gets the Black Forest version perfected I need a link to that recipe because it sounds amazing! xx


oh my - that coastline is in my dreams. never been. thanks so much for the video - you got me inspired. and i drank it up greedily, hands tucked under my chin, leaning forward close to the screen to absorb it all, like I was actually there. also sent the link for the yurts to my friend who loves that thanks for that too. a daily reader...up in frozen


I've never quite been brave enough to attempt power bars at home. I have a hard time finding ones I like at the store, and so somehow it never occurred to me to try to improve upon the recipe. But why not? They are great in a pinch -- any pinch. Post-workout food, stuck-in-the-woods snack, no-time-for-lunch pick me up.... I'll give this a try for sure!


I made these and they are definitely going on the "favs" list. Thanks for passing the recipe along - it is amazing!


I made a batch of these w/o the rice cereal, and used toasted pumpkin seeds, pistachios and dried apricots for flavor. Great recipe with plenty of versatility.


I love these bars... thanks. Do you happen to know the nutritional content?


Can't wait to make these for camping, but I think I will make a batch soon to put in lunches, they sound great!

Deborah Dowd

Can't wait tomake these for camping, but I think I will make a batch soon to put in lunches, they sound great!

Deborah Dowd

I love your blog and even though you always "speak" to me through your recipes... I LOVE THE VIDEO... please post more videos in the future...


Would malt extract be a suitable substitute for brown rice syrup - not sure if we can get the latter easily, if at all, here in the UK? Usually, in this sort of recipe, one would use Golden Syrup, but it's so vile (have never liked it - far too sweet). But perhaps black treacle - molasses - would be interesting, too. For a different twist, how about melting a little dark chocolate and dipping the bars - you could have half dipped, half undipped. Perhaps not if one used molasses! Chopped dried apricots and dried cranberries would be delicious in this, as might other dried berries.

Mrs Redboots

Heidi, per your request, here is my version of the power bar recipe It is sweetened with stevia and a dash of agave. I think it is the flax meal that binds it. Let me know what you think. Thanks, Elana


Try chocolate covered espresso beans


These look fantastic. If you're going to do a version with cocoa powder, toss in a bit of cayenne! Off the top of my head I'd swap in finely-chopped dates for the pecans, throw a teaspoon of allspice into the expresso, and zest a lemon into the syrup mix while it's on the stove.


Do you think that you might be able to make caramel corn with brown rice or agave syrup? It seems fairly similar to power bars in a sort of fluffy and less fibrous way.


Yay for videos! They're so helpful! Thanks for taking the time to make one, I know it can be time consuming. We just taped a video on "how to fillet a fish" at Whole Foods.


okay, i now know what i'm using my frequent flying miles for: to get to big sur and stay at the treebones resort. just looking at the pictures made my heart rate slow down a little (in a "man, i'm relaxed" way, not a "i think i'm dying" way). I love the idea someone upthread had about the cardamon. maybe a ginger-sesame- caradmon version with some candied ginger pieces folded in? Us vs. Food


Heidi - I've been living under a rock for, oh, about 12 years now, or ever since the day I had my first child (that would be 12 years ago today, actually). Which is just to say that somehow, I only found your site the other day, and I love, love, love it. All the best from Boston, Betsy


Hi, Heidi, On a raw, rainy day, your video was just the thing. Thanks, and please keep them coming! I especially loved the *crunch* sound they made. Yum!


This is so boyfriend was just telling me all about Big Sur last night and how he wants to take me there! btw-congrats to the Martha Stewart blog link.


Thanks so much Heidi!! I just want to say that I love your recipes... They seem to fit in so well with the lifestyle of active, busy people who value great tasting food and high-quality ingredients and want to eat healthfully. I will try these power bars just as soon as I have time to bake them! Air travel is frequent for me and I always take energy bars with me on the plane because you never know when you are going to be stuck sitting on a runway for six hours with nothing to eat except maybe a $10 "box lunch" of junk food! But I am sick of paying $2 or more per bar... What a racket! I am so glad to have this new solution to meals on-the-go and can't wait to try it.


It makes me so Poétic and plaisant this trip ,and surely , this bar trip is the idéal meat for a good trecking ; when it's healthy for the body , it's always healthy for the spirit ! have more good trip...enjoyed to see you from my french country .


Thanks for the great video. I live on the east coast and your video makes me want to move out west. Thanks for the recipe too!


Oooh . . . I'm so jealous! My husband and I stayed at Treebones the first few nights of our honeymoon, and it is such a magical place for me. I'm glad someone else appreciates it! I've just discovered your site recently and am having so much fun browsing -- already tried the pizza dough and it was the best I've ever made!

Kara Lewis

Hi Heidi: A lovely video. I long for the beach.....


Thanks for the video! I'm heading to Big Sur in April for the marathon and will now be taking some of those tasty looking power bars along! It looks beautiful there and I can't wait! Thanks again.


Great video and recipe! You should make meditation cd's you have such a soothing voice :)! I have a recipe for power bars from whole foods but I can't wait to try these out!

Christina Todd

Great suggestions everyone, I love hearing where you might take an idea like this! Glad you like the video, and thanks for the encouragement :) Jay - As Ginger mentions later on in the comments, for those of you with oat allergies, try substituting another non-oat flake, quinoa flakes are a great alternative. (thanks for the great suggestion Ginger!) You might be able to get away with wheat germ, which is pretty easy to come by? I've been tempted to throw some wheat germ into the mix here, but haven't thus far, so I'm not 100% sure how it will behave. Chip, I saw Old Joy! hah. Luckily I didnt have to camp on the side of the road (this time ;)... Rachel, great question. I updated the post with a link to Treebones Resort. It is a small collection of yurts overlooking the Pacific - really beautiful site. It is quite far south, something like 30 miles north of San Simeon. Tahnee, you can trade in something other than nuts if you like - dried fruit, cacao nibs - things with similar volume. Sam, you know I would love to try your Black Forest version. Kristine - I love the idea of a savory, non-sweetened breakfast bar. I'm currently using the sweetener as the binding agent, so I will need to rework the structure of the bar.....but now I've got the wheels in my brain churning. Pen and Paper - give the rice syrup a try if you can, it is a beautiful, mellow sweetener - round and not harsh, or sharp the way some sweeteners can be (white sugar)....The little jars can do about two batches of these if I remember correctly. Jonk - That waterfall into the ocean is just a short walk from the state park I link to up above (I added it to the post). We did the big hike, ate some powerbars, and then walked down to the overlook. It was stunning. Pat, I might suggest honey as an alternative, but it is much sweeter than the brown rice syrup. I'd have to test it out.


First off, I love Big Sur -- we usually go camping at Julia Pfeiffer state park every year ... unfortunately, it didn't happen last year. Great video -- keep 'em coming! I wonder what the bars would be like with the removal of espresso powder, but the use of a chai spice mixture instead (cinnamon, ginger, cardamom) ... just enough to give it a subtle warm flavor. I might pair this with pistachios and chopped dried apricots ... oh, or bits of spicy crystallized ginger ... hmmm, I'll have to try this out and get back to you :-)



douglas subbiondo

The bars look great, it was a treat to get a sneak peak into your trip to big sur, I'm sure you've just inspired many trips to the coast (where ever that may be) :)


i like the fruit/nut idea....dried apricots & pistachios, dried blueberries & almonds, etc. to sub sugar, maybe try some agave nectar.

shiwa sangmo

Wow, these look delicious! I'm a martial artist and these look like a great pre-training snack! I hope you don't mind, but I'd like to put your link in my Taekwondo blog :)

RLD: Taekwondo Happiness

I've not heard of brown rice syrup before. Don't think I've seen it here in Australia. What might be a substitute? Cheers!


This is my first comment here, and I thought I'd let you know that I absolutely LOVE your website and all of the well-written recipes that are in it! I'm always visiting when I get an email update to see what's new. Great video and recipe, keep up the good work! The scenery was very beautiful, by the way. You got some great shots!


I think this looks good, but I would love to find a power bar that does not have sugar in it. I love the idea of a meal-in-a-bar, but why do they have to be sweet?


Lovely video. I encourage you to make more.


Yay Heidi! I can't wait to try these, and your video is beautiful. Well done!


For all those folks with oat issues, I believe you can find quinoa flakes in your local health food stores, or even rice flakes, they should sub just fine. I am headed to the West coast next month, thanks for the views to look forward to!


great video and great recipe (like all your recipes!) my husband and I love big sur (and monterey) so so much. I'm jealous. last time we went was summer 2006... I'm thinking we need to take the drive very soon. :)


I'll echo several folks, but 1) it was a treat to hear your voice — and 2) what a delightful, serene three minutes or so to calm me down after a hectic day. Lovely images, soothing sound and fabulous food. A real winning trifecta! Thanks


Love your website and the video was great! One I buy "unsweetened crisp brown rice cereal" in the cereal section? or with the rices? and do you know any name brands to search for?


I love the sound of the recipe and the idea of homemade energy bars, especially such delicious ones! By any chance, is there a good substitute for the oats in this recipe? I recently discovered I have an allergy to oats (probably from overindulgence!). Thanks :)


Howdy. Got coordinates for that spot around 3:13?


Heidi, Thanks for the recipe. Power bars are handy to have. One comment re instructions: confusing about size of pans - obviously one would need a cookie sheet type edged pan for roasting upon; but, then to let the mixture cool in, one could use the same pan or substitute an 8" x 8" or a 9" x 9" baking pan.


I loved the video, especially the bit at the end with the relaxing waves! How about some cacao nibs (if you can get 'em) for chocolate without too much sweetness? I'm also a sucker for dried cherries in anything like this for that sour/sweet kick.


What a lovely video! I've never been to Big Sur and now I'm seriously considering taking up a friend's offer to go camping in the summer, even though I'm probably the worst camper ever. Do you think that a combination of molasses and maple syrup might work as a substitute for the rice syrup? I just can't imagine what else I'd use the syrup for after I made the power bars. (Of course, I guess I could keep it on hand for every time I *do* make power bars.)

pen and paper

Does anyone know any good substitutes for the coconut? My nephew is allergic but I think these would be a great gift for him...


Thanks SO much for this recipe! My fiance is planning a three-day hike and camp of the Appalachian Trail in May and will be incredibly excited to have these along for snack time!


The bar looks delicious. I can add some cranberries too. I just love your emails and look forward to them everyday. You have opened up a whole new world of food to me. I am so excited to try your Tofu and brussel sprouts recipe today! Yum Yum!


The bar looks delicious. I can add some cranberries too. I just love your emails and look forward to them everyday. You have opened up a whole new world of food to me. I am so excited to try your Tofu and brussel sprouts recipe today! Yum Yum!


Thanks for the recipe. This will will be great for a breakfast on the run.


Homesick :( Thank you so much for sharing the video Heidi. Big Sur is my most favorite place on the earth. I miss my trips from SF to Carmel terribly.


I'd like to find a way to do this without sugar...any suggestions?


Wow. this video is beautiful.. the views, the bars.. I'm overwhelmed...


Great video, the views are amazing!!! the recipe too, sounds so yummy!!! have you thought of adding cranberries and sunflower seeds...

Porsche Girl

your video made me homesick as well, how i miss the california coast! i make a version similar to yours with candied ginger and toasted nori for extra nutritional punch (you can't even taste the seaweed, i promise!) i love that you put espresso powder in these, that will *definitely* be in my next batch!


big sur is wonderful, but wasn't it freezing? I'm up in Sacramento and we have had the most freezing winter ever... As a personal peanut butter addict, I think that a nice cup of peanut butter would be wonderful with this bar but then it wouldn't be so healthy. But a little healthy fat never hurt anyone, right?


I tried making a chocolate bar from Sticky, Chewy... by Jill O'Connor, and I have to say it was a bit too chocolatey (Is that a word, and is it actually possible...?) Anyways, this is more to my tastebuds, I think, if I can get hold of brown rice syrup, that is...


I wish I could find a savory breakfast-type bar that is good for me. I have been trying to brainstorm such a thing but nothing has turned out. Any suggestions?


Hey Heidi - I have been working on what I call a "Black Forest" version of your power bar. I have made it a couple of times so far and have loads of notes so I can improve it even further. It's going to be wickedly awesome when I've twiddled with the few things I want to change. It' super delicious, sinful and pleases the vegans in my office as well as the non-vegans. When I've got it down to a tee, I'll post it up on my blog. So sorry i missed you the other weekend. Soon, I hope, I am currently sick so best wait til i get better. xxx


Wow! These sound amazing. I already have a camping trip in Big Sur planned for the summer but I think I'll have to try these before then!


Hi, It's great to hear your voice Heidi! Great video and music. Thanks for the power bar recipe!


Do you have any good substitute(s) for the nuts? I would love to make the power bars but it seems as if nuts are always a big part of any recipe I've found. I'm allergic to them.


So nice to see them in action! I have made them with a candied ginger/sesame combination, and also a nutmeg/pinenut/maple syrup one too. I love going down to Big Sur but it's always hard to figure out where to stay, do you have rec's?


great video; and great bar recipe!! sounds scrumptious!!


I love, love, love the video. It's such a perfectly simple recipe and having the video helps us remember that. I'm totally enthusiastic and I'm going to make some this weekend. Keep it coming, Heidi! You rule!


Thank you so much for sharing the video and recipe with us. It was just the mini vacation I needed today. A couple of years ago I made homemade granola bars from an epicurious recipe that had cardamom in it. They were delicious. I wonder if your more healthful version could incorporate the cardamom - not sure how it would go with the espresso - might need to leave that out - maybe adding a tea infusion to the syrup and sugar could lend some nice flavor.


Thanks so much for sharing the video, it was really cute to hear your voice. Off the current food subject but important none the less. Since you posted the Lively Lentils recipe, I have made it (with a few tweaks) three times. Hugs to you and your foodie brain.


Brys and I were simultaneously watching this and cross-emailed to tell the other to watch it. It's like the "Old Joy" version of 101 Cookbooks. More video, Heidi!


thoughts on an oat substitute? my wife is allergic to oats - that can be quite the pain as so many things use oats to sub for wheat :-(


Heidi, I just recently moved to Colorado from Sacramento and this video makes me so homesick. Thanks for the great recipe - I will make them before my first spring hike in Boulder.


Thank you. Looks like so much fun. Off to the kitchen to make power bars.


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