Power Trip

Outdoor Street

    One-point-four-billion: that's how much this country spends on Captain Power energy bars and their kin every year.

Captain Power

    Heck, if you look around, it seems like every briefcase, gym bag, purse, and backpack has become home to these edible tribbles. And why not? I mean, they possess the convenience of a candy bar. And although they often contain just as much sugar and fat as your favorite candy bar, they sometimes manage to pack in some pretty high-end nutrition. Sometimes, they don't even taste like sawdust. But still, they're all a little too mysterious for my liking. They're also willing to be helpful. They want to help us play more, lift more, work more, run more. And somehow—mysteriously—I don't know, lose weight more ... but at a price. They are very expensive.
    The answer? Make your own. Heck, with a little nutritional know-how and the right ingredients, we can beat old Captain Power at his very own game, and not only create energy bars that are good for you but are seriously ...

["Good Eats" theme plays]

The Kitchen

    Although energy bars might appear to be modern marvels, mankind has been seeking out compact nutrition sources for centuries.

The Middle Ages

GUESTS: Knight and Page

    For instance, back in the Middle Ages, no well-equipped Crusader left the castle without a dense fruitcake called pan forte packed with honey, grains, nuts, and dried fruit. Pan forte was the most calorie-laden food of its day and it delivered vitamins and minerals and energy and enough fiber to keep the most noble knight a regular guy.

Early American Frontier

GUEST: American Frontiersman

    And then, there was pemmican. The Cree Indians taught early American frontiersmen like Alexander MacKenzie how to pound dried deer and buffalo meat with fat, bone marrow, and dried berries, and then to sew up the whole thing in a rawhide sack sealed with tallow. Sounds pretty gross. But the resulting bar—called pemmican after the Cree word for fat—gave Mackenzie the strength to become the first European to cross the North American continent coast to coast back in 1793. Pretty impressive.

Early Power Bar Factory

    Hundreds of bars designed to deliver quick energy were unleashed on the public. These "handy bars" were indeed loaded with calories. But no one really thought to add, you know, good nutrition until 1975 when Nestlé hired an inventor to concoct a healthy, easy-to-carry, tasty bar for the "Me" generation. The result? The granola bar. Want to make one? Okay, we'll get to that. First, let's take a moment to consider a few nutritional matters.

The Kitchen

GUEST: Adrenaline

    The universe of energy bars is often classified according to the percentages of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins that they contain. Ever wonder what these things do?


    Well, carbohydrates include sugars, and starches from the plant world. Simple sugars are made up of either one or two molecules, and once ingested, they move quickly into the bloodstream where they are literally burned up in the power plant of your metabolism. Now this is very, very good news if you are running a marathon, chopping wood, or lifting weights. If, however, you are simply lifting the remote control, this isn't so good.

    That's because when excess glucose doesn't get used up by your body, your pancreas sends out insulin to neutralize it. That means in a couple of hours, you're going to have a glucose deficiency, which your body is going to counter with a hormone adrenaline.


ADRENALINE: [which looks very similar to Tender, starts beating AB's head]

    And adrenaline is just going to make you feel nasty, cranky, and muddy-headed. What's more, excess carbs easily convert to fat, you know, in case of starvation.

AB: Would you cut it out?

    Speaking of fats, they are extremely efficient when it comes to storing energy, a whopping nine calories per gram, in fact. Which means if my calculations are correct, I have the same potential energy as a small thermonuclear device.


    Luckily, fats do serve a purpose other than just keeping me from seeing my shoes. Without fats, your body cannot utilize fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, or K. Nor can it maintain healthy organs or cell membranes. Fats also supply fuel for your muscles when no carbs are available. Oh, and here's another crucial fat fact; fats are composed of fatty acids, some of which are required for human life, which is why they're called "essential fatty acids". So if you're fat, don't blame fats because they're good.


    With the exception of fat, water, and the minerals that make up your skeleton, most of the body is made from protein. Three-quarters of your dry weight, in fact, is muscle, nails, hair, skin, stuff that has to be renewed and renovated every now and then lest you simply fall apart. Now proteins are made out of tiny building blocks, called amino acids.


    Twenty different amino acids are required by the body for human life. Now a healthy body can manufacture eleven of these, but the remaining nine have to be imported from the outside world or the whole system falls apart. Now the challenge is in finding protein sources that provide all nine of these essential amino acids.

The Red Blocks]

  1. Isoleucine
  2. Histidine
  3. Leucine
  4. Lysine
  5. Methionine
  6. Phenylalanine
  7. Threonine
  8. Tryptophan
  9. Valine

The Yellow Blocks]

  1. Alanine
  2. Arginine
  3. Asparagine
  4. Aspartic acid
  5. Cysteine
  6. Glutamic acid
  7. Glutamine
  8. Glycine
  9. Proline
  10. Serine
  11. Tyrosine

In addition to granola bars, Stanley Mason is credited with inventing
the squeezable ketchup bottle and dental floss dispensers.

    Decidedly old school, granola bars still deliver a satisfying crunch combined with a considerable nutritional punch that stems mostly from this tasty payload: eight ounces, that's approximately two cups, of old-fashioned rolled oats. Now when it comes to eating oatmeal, I'm not a huge fan of rolled oats. But when it comes to making granola products, they're the only way to go. 8 Ounces Old Fashioned Oats
    Here we have an ounce and a half of raw sunflower seeds, three ounces of sliced almonds, and an ounce and a half of wheat germ all measured by weight, of course. 1.5 Ounces Raw Unshelled
    Sunflower Seeds
3 Ounces Sliced Almonds
1.5 Ounces Wheat Germ

    Now a word about wheat germ. You've got to remember that it is the actual embryo of the kernel. And like an egg yolk, it contains most of the fat and vitamins that the kernel has to offer. Since most of the fats inside of it are unsaturated, this stuff will go rancid if it's left out at room temperature. So always keep it tightly sealed and in your chill chest at all times.

    There. Although they are loaded with complex carbohydrates, and proteins, vitamins and minerals and what not, these nuts and grains aren't exactly packed with flavor ... yet. Just as a plain piece of white bread becomes something completely different when toasted, 15 minutes at 350 degrees will change everything. Just make sure that you stir them about every five minutes. And after this point, of course, you might want to use a spoon or a spatula.


For more fiber, crunch and flavor use unshelled sunflower seeds.

The Kitchen

    While our nuts and grains combo gently toasts, we will prepare the binder. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat and add six ounces of honey, one and three-quarter ounces dark brown sugar, one ounce of unsalted butter, two teaspoons of vanilla extract, and half a teaspoon of kosher salt. Just stir that until the sugar has completely dissolved.

6 Ounces Honey
1.75 Ounces Dark Brown
1 Ounce Unsalted Butter
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt

    Then add your freshly toasted oat mixture, and just to up the soluble fiber—not to mention the flavor—add six and a half ounces of chopped dried fruit mix: apricots, cherries, cranberries, blueberries, the choice is yours.

6.5 Ounces Chopped Dried

    When the mixture is completely mixed and no more liquid seems apparent, move that into a well-oiled 9 x 9 baking dish. Then oil the bottom of another baking dish or pan and use that to tamp down the top of the granola so it's nice and even. There.

    Park in the middle of your 300 degree oven for 25 minutes.

300° for 25 Minutes

[AB runs a knife around the edge of the dish, turns it over onto a cutting board and cuts it into 16 squares] Stored thusly [in a plastic bag], these will keep for two or three weeks in your cupboard.

    Allow the bars to cool completely. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, turn out onto a cutting board and cut into 16 squares

    Now let us take just a few moments to consider nutritional information on this device. I think you're going to be surprised that this nice big block only contains 193 kilocalories. A kilocalorie is what you and I usually call a Calorie, only a little bit more precise. We've got 30.52 grams carbohydrates, 4.5 grams protein, 6.8 grams fat, 3.66 grams of fiber, and only 61.28 milligrams of sodium.

193 Kilocalories
30.52g Carbohydrates
4.5g Protein
6.8g Fat
3.66g Fiber
61.28mg Sodium

    That means that this little bar is as good, if not better, than most of the commercial granola bars on the market. And as far as sodium goes, well, let's just put it this way: this thing's [commercial granola bar] got 160 milligrams. That's just too high. Best of all, this thing [homemade bar] cost about, oh, I don't know, five cents to make. You do the math.
    One of the most popular new bar categories is the protein bar, favored by body builders looking to add some muscle tissue and followers of the low-carb cult, whose bodies have been tricked into burning fats and proteins as major energy sources, rather than carbohydrates. Most manufacturers seem to be having a tough time making high-protein bars taste anything other than, I don't know, potting soil. Although I do have to admit that the Captain Power Protein Puck Pack doesn't taste too bad. Of course, there are a few ingredients on here that I'm not that familiar with. Maybe it's time to consult with an expert in such matters.

High Security Holding Cell

GUEST: Koko Karl (now a prisoner after committing crimes as "Auntie Pudding")

KOKO KARL: Well, well, well. Look what the cat drug in.
AB: Hello, Koko.
KK: To what do I owe the honor? Do tell.

[AB holds up a Captain Power energy bar to the window]

KK: Hmmm. How nice. You brought Karl a goodie. Hmmm, a Captain Power Protein Puck, no less.
AB: You know, Karl, I never would have figured you for health food.
KK: Healthy? Maybe for the Captain's bank account.
AB: What do you mean?
KK: No no. That won't do. Quid pro quo, my dear AB.
AB: All right. Quid pro quo the wrapper.
KK: [takes the wrapper and smells it] Mmmm, yes. A few of my favorite things. [smells again] High fructose corn syrup. Oh, lots and lots of sodium, and [smells again] oh, oh, lovely [smells again], luscious, palm kernel oil.
AB: What's the big deal with palm oil?
KK: It's the only fully saturated fat that stays liquid at room temperature!
AB: That means that products that contain it can remain moist and unctuous, and still have the shelf life of uranium.
KK: Nice. It can learn.
AB: You know, saturated fats are bad for you. [holds up a piece of the bar]
KK: [eyes the bar longingly] Only if you eat them.
AB: Well, at least this one's packed full of protein [hands the bar to Koko Karl through the air hole]
KK: [sucks on one end of it] That's because it's been hydrolyzed.
AB: What do you mean?
KK: Extracted from cow hooves and skins [makes sucking sounds, homage to Hannibal Lechter]
AB: Guess that's your way of saying it's low quality, then?
KK: Like eating glue, only tastier. Ohh, Captain, you're a bad boy, yes you are. You're a ba ... [begins to eat the bar somewhat ravenously] Now if you'll excuse me, I'd like to enjoy my sugar rush in private. Mmmmha ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha ...
AB: [hurries' off]

Palm oil is obtained by pressing the fruit of the oil palm.
Palm kernel oil is pressed from the seeds of the plant.

The Kitchen

    Now here is a four-ounce power bar [displays a slab of meat]. It's got all the protein you need. All of the essential amino acids are there. A total of 28.65 grams of protein, in fact. But it's also got 365 calories, almost 27 grams of fat, ten of which are saturated. Not so healthy. There is, however, a way to get the complete protein we need into a convenient and tasty package without all the calories or all the fat. Soybeans ... or, more exactly, soybean protein powder, which is indeed, a complete protein. Now we will build our bar using the muffin method only without any leavening.

    Step one, set your oven to 350 degrees. Then combine 4 ounces of soy protein powder, 2 and 1/4 ounces of oat bran, 2 and 3/4 ounces of wheat flour, and 3/4 of an ounce of wheat germ, along with half a teaspoon of salt. Combine well. 4 Ounces Soy Protein Powder
2.25 Ounces Oat Bran
2.75 Ounces Whole Wheat
.75 Ounces Wheat Germ
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
    Then, chop up three ounces each of raisins and dried blueberries, and two and a half ounces each of cherries and apricots. 3 Ounces Each
Raisins & Dried Blueberries

2.5 Ounces
Dried Cherries & Dried

    In another bowl, combine one 12.3-ounce block of silken tofu, 4 ounces of dark brown sugar, 2 large eggs, 1/2 a cup of unfiltered apple juice, and 2/3 of a cup of natural peanut butter. If you are allergic to peanuts, either almond butter or cashew butter can be used here. 12.3 Ounces Soft Silken Tofu
4 Ounces Dark Brown Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1/2 Cup Unfiltered Apple
2/3 Cup Natural Peanut

    Time to pour the wet and gooey onto the dry and dusty. And since there's not much in the way of gluten here, you can just mix that all you want. Just don't forget to stir in your fruit at the end. Since stirring can actually be a little tough, I like using my hands. The glove's optional.
    Finally, add this to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish that has been lined with oiled parchment paper and just kind of push the batter in. You might want to oil that glove, too.

    Park this in the middle of a 350 degree oven until the internal temperature hits 205 degrees, and that's going to take about 35 minutes.


    Once they're completely cool, turn them out and odds are good, the parchment will come off and stay in the pan. Now you could cut these with a sharp, narrow knife. But there's a good bit of drag because of the density. So, I like a pizza cutter. There we go.
    They'll keep in the refrigerator for, I'd say, a week. But they freeze very, very well—if properly wrapped—up to three months. Now these bars are dense, they are cakey, and they are delicious. And I am pleased to say, they are darn good for you.

    Just look at these numbers. We've got 154.01 kilocalories or calories, we've got 21.08 grams of carbohydrates, 8.41 grams of protein, 4.79 grams of fat, 2.14 grams of fiber, a measly 91.92 milligrams of sodium, and 17.7 milligrams of cholesterol. I dare you ... No, I double dog dare you to find a protein bar in any market anywhere that can beat this one. Certainly not for flavor. You're just not going to find it. [takes a bite] Well, not for texture, either. Uh uh.

154.01 Kilocalories
21.08g Carbohydrates
8.41g Protein
4.79g Fat
2.14g Fiber
91.92mg Sodium
17.7mg Cholesterol

    Do you know what those are? Sure you do. They are icons of the snack world. And you want one bad, don't ya? The problem is that they've got all the nutritive value of, uh [polystyrene chips fall from above] ... Actually, packing chips might have a little bit more fiber. But of course, these do have some sugar. Luckily, we can rebuild them, remake them from scratch so that not only will they be good, they'll be good for you. [puts a marshmallow crisped rice treat back on a stack of them] I don't need that.

Marshmallows were once made from the
root of a plant called the marsh mallow.

The Kitchen

GUEST: Thing

    First thing is, we will replace the regular puffed rice with 3 ounces, or 6 cups, of puffed brown rice, which contains rice bran oil which is very effective at controlling cholesterol. Now we're still going to use 7 ounces of marshmallows, but hey, it tastes great, and, uh, after all, they are fat free. We will counter that with some extra nutrition, say 3 ounces of toasted slivered almonds, an ounce and a half each of dried cranberries and dried cherries, which, of course, we will chop. And last but not least, an ounce of blueberries. We don't need to chop those.

3 Ounces Puffed Brown Rice
7 Ounces Mini Marshmallows
3 Ounces Toasted Slivered
1.5 Ounces Each Dried
    Cranberries & Dried
1 Ounce Dried Blueberries

    Now 7 ounces of marshmallows won't provide much sweetness. So, we will augment them with 1 tablespoon of honey.

THING: [hands AB a jar of Orange Blossom honey]
AB: Thank you, Thing.

1 Tbs. Orange Blossom Honey

    I like Orange Blossom honey, but you can use whatever you like. The reason I like honey is that it is very, very hygroscopic. It's not just sweet, it's water-loving. And that means that using it in these treats will keep them moister and chewier longer. Chewy is a good thing.

    Now treats like this usually call for a lot of butter. We don't want that. So we are going to use a different oil altogether, flax seed oil, 3 tablespoons of it. Since this stuff is mostly unsaturated, you're going to want to keep it in the chill chest at all times.

3 Tbs. Flax Seed Oil

    Bring a large cauldron of water to a bare simmer and place over it your largest metal mixing bowl. Add to this your honey, your flax seed oil, and last but not least, of course, your mini-marshmallows. Now one of the reasons that I like mini-marshmallows so much is that they're so gosh darn good in a cup of cocoa. But I also like them because they're small, and therefore, melt quickly. This will take about four to five minutes just to work this into something resembling marshmallow fluff.
    In the meantime, let us talk about flax seed oil. This is a flax seed. Sorry [holds magnifying glass in front of the seed] ... THIS is a flax seed. Inside this magic seed is a magic oil. And inside the magic oil, a magic substance, an essential fatty acid, in fact, called alpha-linolenic acid which just so happens to be an omega-3-fatty acid. What's an omega-3-fatty acid?

Found in certain fish and vegetables Omega-3s are a special class of polyunsaturated fatty acids which are considered highly heart healthy.

    Fetch down a 9 x 13 inch baking pan—metal would be best—and give it a good lubing with vegetable or canola oil. Make sure you go all the way up the sides. When the marshmallow goo is melted, turn off the heat, but don't remove the bowl. Pour in the puffed rice, the nuts, and berries, and all the other little bits and pieces, and be ready to do some serious stirring. If you take the pan off the hot water, I promise this will become a real problem.
    Now when it all turns into an untenable mess, move it off, and dump it into your pan. But before you do that, you're probably going to want to lube up your hands, because they are just about the only tools you've got in your kitchen capable of doing what needs to be done, which is to pack this brick-like substance into the corners of the pan.
    Now I know some of you probably don't like the feel of oil on your hands. But the alternative is club hand! [shows his hand completely covered in the goo] ... and we don't want that. Once the mixture is in, let it cool thoroughly, and then turn it out and cut into blocks.

    Gracious, would you just look at that nutritional information. We've got just over 93 calories, or kilocalories per serving, for each delicious puffed rice delight, just over 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1.16 grams of protein, 3.72 grams of fat, 1.01 grams of fiber, and only 4.31 milligrams of sodium, and it tastes good too! It's like an entire grocery store in your mouth. [takes a bite] But in a good way. Mmmm, love cakey.

93.75 Kilocalories
15.13g Carbohydrates
1.16g Protein
3.72g Fat
1.01g Fiber
4.31mg Sodium

Outdoor Street

[the billboard that had Captain Power on it now has
Lactose Man's picture on it and says FOR RENT 555-1212]

    Well, that's a little more like it. The mambo of modern life can take a lot out of a person. Putting the right stuff back can indeed be a challenge. But the way I figure it, even if I fall down on the nutritional job from time to time, as long as I've got one of these power-packed snacks on my side, odds are good I won't fall on my face. And if I do, I'll get up running.
    So I hope that you will set down those high-priced, factory-born bars you've become addicted to, and give your own brand a try. I'm betting that you will find a whole new source of good eats.
    See 'ya around, Captain Power. Ha ha ha ha ha.

Transcribed by Michael Roberts
Proofread by Michael Menninger

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Last Edited on 08/27/2010