I have a hard time with "mile marker" snacks during marathons. The well-meaning volunteers hand out such things like crackers & cheese sandwiches, chocolate cookies, fruit jelly snacks (along with the occasional banana or orange), which do serve their purpose of providing energy, but they're obviously not vegan. So mostly I pack a few CLIF shot blocks (which are vegan-friendly!) and some pretzels in my belt pack. But honestly, it's not enough to sustain me for 26 miles! So, I created my own energy bar to keep on hand. With pretzels, salted nuts, and tart cranberries, this bar has the sodium, protein and glucose needed to keep me going to the finish line!
There are also a number of other great benefits:
1) It's so easy to make your own.
2) I'm not a huge fan of raisins (in fact, I don't keep any in the house in case my mischievous Mookie sniffs his way into a container). But it seems that a lot of trail mixes and energy bars have them in it. But by making my own, I get exactly what I want! You can add coconut (if that's your thing) or granola or... the sky's the limit! Oh, although, hold off on the chocolate chips because they'll melt from all the heat. You're better off leaving it as a dip at the end.
3) I also save a little bit of money. Most bars are in the $1.25-$1.50 range and these cost about $0.75 to $0.80, depending on what nuts are added (I use the more expensive macadamias and cashews, but you can stick to peanuts if you're on a budget.)
1 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots (about 20)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup roasted salted peanuts
3/4 cup roasted salted cashews
1/2 cup roasted salted macadamia nuts
3/4 cup roasted whole unsalted almonds
1/3 cup roasted salted sunflower seeds
(I used mostly salted nuts to replace the sodium I lose during races, but if you're watching your intake, then I would use the unsalted variety.)
2 oz. coarsely broken pretzel sticks
4 cups brown rice crispy cereal
(In all, you want about 10 cups of "stuff".)
1 1/4 cup brown rice syrup
8 tbsp (1 stick) Earth Balance butter
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Using 11" x 17" jelly roll pan, cut parchment paper to cover bottom and sides of pan. Set aside.
In small saucepan, combine brown rice syrup, butter and evaporated cane juice. Heat to boiling.
Combine dried fruits, nuts, pretzels and cereal in large mixing bowl. Pour boiling syrup mixture into cereal mixture and stir to coat.
Pour mixture onto pan and press flat using a silicone spatula.
Bake for 30 minutes. Cool for approximately 10 minutes and score into 20 pieces (I did 18 rectangles about 2" x 5" [3 rows of 6 across] and then had a small 2" strip at the bottom which I cut long ways into 2 pieces.) Each bar is approximately 350 calories.
If you want to be extra fancy, you can melt some chocolate chips (Sunspire or Enjoy Life brand) and brush a layer of chocolate on the bottom of the bar.
Wrap individual bars in parchment paper and store in airtight container.