Snack and energy bars are great. Whether you’ve just finished working out or you’re simply watching your child at a practice or a game, these bars help replenish vital nutrients and give you the feeling that you are not just eating but actually improving your health. Wouldn’t it be even better if the snack bars were custom designed to perfectly match your own particular tastes and nutritional needs?

In packaged “health” snacks, there are sometimes ingredients such as additives and preservatives. Often their sweet taste is the result of mystery sugars that would never be found in your local grocery store. For instance, ingredients like corn syrup solids (doesn’t exactly sound appetizing) are made of dextrose sugar. By using this form of sugar, the manufacturer can advertise that they don’t use high fructose corn syrup, which is made of fructose sugar. While the corn syrup solid isn’t as sweet as high fructose corn syrup, they both turn into sugar in your body. If you are going to use sugar in your snack bar, then why not use the old-fashioned kind that’s probably already sitting in your kitchen. At least you know what you’re getting.

There are many benefits to making your own snacks. There’s a double bottom line for you in the DIY approach: First, it’s fun and second, you have control over the ingredients that go into the bar. If you are preparing snack bars for family members, they might participate in the process, which enhances family bonding and a few added endorphins.

You can customize the snack to you or your child’s preferences by balancing the amount of taste, fiber, fat, protein and sugars that go into it. This flexibility allows you to put in favorite ingredients, including organic ingredients, and to remove any that might cause allergies or be too high in sugar content (and that includes sugar itself). It also lets you accommodate special dietary needs, like gluten-free diets. 

Most snack bars contain a mixture of nuts, fruit and grains. These ingredients aren’t arbitrary. During a workout, glycogen and protein are depleted along with water. The protein, carbs and other ingredients in a snack bar can help the body refuel, repair and rebuild broken down muscle tissue after a workout.  Make sure you have plenty of water on hand as well to complete the recovery cycle.

The same premises hold true for DIY smoothies — homemade is better. With the current trend being towards juicing, this alternative might be more appealing to you or your child. Some people, however, feel more satisfied with the chewing experience of a snack bar.

Once you have finished making your own snack bars, the temptation is to eat them right away. But hold off! To have the best effect, the snack bar should be eaten sometime within 30 minutes to an hour after a workout.

Here are two snack bar recipes (one requires baking the other does not) and a collection of smoothie recipes that offer a lot of flexibility for what ingredients you put into it:

Here’s a gluten free recipe for Peanut Butter No Bake Gluten Free Energy Bites: