Mocha Crunch Bars (Low Carb and Gluten Free)


Tomorrow morning, I head down to the Cape with a few friends to run the Hyannis Marathon as a relay. My portion of the relay is 7 miles. A few weeks ago, I was really looking forward to this race, but right now? Not so much. For one thing, I am battling quite the sore throat at the moment. It feels like I’ve swallowed some daggers and they are sticking in my craw. It’s awful, and I just hope and pray it’s better by Sunday morning. But what also gets me down about the race right now is that my level of fitness isn’t anywhere near what it was when we signed up. The god-awful winter we’ve been having has made it hard to run outside and I find treadmills only so useful when training. Add to that the multiple bouts of illness for my kids and myself lately, and I’ve only managed to run three times in the last 2 weeks. I originally had a goal of completing my 7 miles in 56 minutes (an 8 minute pace) but now I have no goals beyond finishing. I can run 7 miles, but it ain’t gonna be pretty!

All of this is really neither here nor there regarding the recipe at hand, I just feel like venting a little! I was trying to create something akin to an energy bar here, as commercial versions aren’t really great for my blood sugars. I had it in my head to make something mocha-flavoured, so I tossed in a good amount of instant coffee powder. I don’t run without a little caffeine in my system. My husband can get up and go first thing in the morning, but I like to have my cuppa and a little food to fuel me up. So I figured that an energy bar with the caffeine built right in would be ideal. I also tossed in lots of ground nuts and seeds for energy, and some coconut oil and a bit of xanthan gum to hold it all together. I was using my own Chocolate Nut Energy Bars as a rough guide, but I was really making it up as I went along.

The Results: I am not entirely sold on these, I have to admit. They are not bad, I just find them a bit too rich-tasting and the mocha flavour doesn’t come through enough, despite the several tablespoons of coffee powder I added. I think the culprit here is the coconut oil. It is a very rich taste and it seems like it is overpowering the mocha. If I were to try these again, I’d cut the coconut oil with almond butter, but I simply didn’t have any at the time. But that is how I will write up the recipe for anyone who wants to give these a try.

The funny part is that my picky eater, my baby, loves them. LOVES THEM! I’ve been letting her munch on them after dinner and she always squeals with delight when she sees it. I really can never figure out what she’s going to like and what she’s not going to like, but I can get on board with her liking these!

Mocha Crunch Bars

1 1/4 cup toasted nuts and seeds (I used a mix of pecans, almonds, sunflower seeds and pepitas)
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tbsp granulated erythritol
2 tbsp instant coffee
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup almond butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
12 drops stevia extract

In a food processer, grind toasted nuts and seeds until fine. Mix in a large bowl with flax seed, cocoa powder, erythritol and coffee.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt coconut oil and almond butter together, stirring until combined and smooth. Off heat, add vanilla and stevia extract.

Pour coconut oil mixture into the nuts and seeds and stir until it comes together. Press into an ungreased loaf pan and chill in refrigerator until set. Cut into 8 bars.

Keep unused bars refrigerated.

Makes 8 servings. Each serving has a total of 11g of carbs and 4g of fiber, but only 8g of carbs if you subtract erythritol.

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  1. ravienomnoms says

    Good luck in the race! My guy and I always stay in Wellfleet when we go to the cape. His uncle has a place so I know right where you will be. Make sure to stay warm! These bars look great by the way!

  2. Becky says

    Good Luck in your Marathon. Looks like the bars will give you the fuel that you need. You are so creative to make your own energy bars!

    Please stop by my blog to pick up the Stylish Blogger Award, which you certainly deserve.

  3. Cait says

    just came across your blog! you have some great insight on your posts! i can't wait to see what you come up with next! Good luck in your race!

  4. Joy, The Herbed Kitchen says

    Carolyn, the fact that you can even contemplate running a marathon is an incredible achievement. Best of luck to you to do this! I know you can! Just think of the pampering you'll get afterwards when you have to rest your weary muscles.

    I'm not sure I'll end up making the energy bars because I try to make most things nut free because Miss N's school is nut free and I'm just not organized enough to make two batches! They are lovely though. Perhaps soaking the nuts in brewed coffee would help the coffee flavour come through?

  5. Jeanine says

    Fantastic photo! I know you'll get these figured out next time.
    Praying you'll be feeling better on Sunday! Good luck with your run!

  6. Ang says

    Gosh even if you show up and attempt to finish the marathon I give you kudos for that. I'm praying for a full physical recovery by Sunday.

    These crunch bars look great btw!!!

  7. savoringeverybite says

    These look really good and I like that you add your taste testing opinions. I am definitely going to try these, along with your suggestions!

  8. Three-Cookies says

    All the best for the run. Since you have low expectations you may end up really surprising yourself. Sometimes I start a run without much enthusiasm but totally different story once I've warmed up. You will be fine.

  9. Island Vittles says

    Another tasty looking treat from you! Have a great race — strike a pose as you finish your leg, and everyone will remember how great you looked as you crossed over the finish! Theresa

  10. Scarletta @ Scarletta Bakes says

    I think these look great! I can't wait to give them a try.

    I'm so sorry to hear about the winter weather and illness that you've been contending with lately. I hope things get better (and warmer) for you SOON!

  11. Steph says

    GOOD LUCK!! I hope you're feeling better, with lots of energy and feet with wings :)

    I think these little goodies look so yummy!

  12. Susi says

    Carolyn, best of luck in the race! I'm sure you will be fine and hope that your sore throat will be better by race day!
    Great looking and sounding bars that I'm sure are so much better for you than anything store-bought!

  13. Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels says

    Good luck with the race! I hope you feel better soon. How cute that your baby can't get enough of these bars. :)

  14. Kimberly says

    Good luck on the race! I hope you get feeling better, running with a sore throat is no fun. :-(

    I am SO glad you're little one liked these bars! They look delicious, I may have to give these a try!

  15. christine says

    Ugh, I hope you feel better in time for the race! I can't imagine running 7 miles with a sore throat.

    I think the bars look tasty. I've been thinking about homemade energy bars with dates and nuts… Maybe I'll throw in some coffee :)

    Good luck with everything!

  16. Kate @ says

    Kids can really surprise you … seems that their taste buds must be completely different from ours.

    Good luck at the race… I'm sorry you aren't feeling up to par, but it will get easier as soon as you step foot at the start line. The adrenaline will come rushing and you'll be on your way to the finish line before you even know it.

  17. Lizzy says

    Good luck with your relay, Carolyn!!! I'm sorry you're not 100%…hope a couple good nights of sleep will help. I know you can do it, my friend!!! Take good care~

  18. Katrina says

    Have fun in your marathon relay!! That sounds like fun!! I had my first 5K scheduled for April but this pneumonia has had me off the treadmill for 3 weeks now. :( I don't think it's going to happen (at least not in the spring).

    Great post! That's funny that your daughter loves these. We just never know what they are going to like?! – Katrina

  19. Lindsey says

    These bars look mighty tasty! Good luck with your race. Hopefully you'll feel better once you get there and getting going!

  20. sara @ CaffeIna says

    Good luck with the race and with perfecting these bars (that already look great to me). i'm glad though that the kids liked them already!

  21. Nancy says

    Just found your blog today and had to laugh out loud at the title…I actually say this phrase all the time! I too try to eat low-carb as my family has a history of diabetes. I also enjoy running and am contemplating signing up for my first race this Spring. You are inspirational and I am thrilled to find your blog. I haven't worked with many of the ingredients you use but am excited to try! Excited to see more!

  22. Michael @theflavorjunkie says

    I hope you feel better soon and I hope you kick that marathon in the ass!

    Love the bars. They look great and they must be if your daugther is devouring them. Kids know best, right?

  23. Susie Bee on Maui says

    Feel better soon!

    Buzzed this-I've been wanting to try making my own bars. Will take your suggestions and give it a try.

  24. Amy Bakes Everything says

    Good luck on your race, I had strep a few weeks ago and was begging my husband to shoot me! These bars look wonderful, I love it that your baby loves them! Great job!

  25. Foodiva says

    Best of luck with your marathon, I'm sure you'll be able to run a good pace. Especially if you stock up with these delish caffeine bars beforehand!

  26. Claudie says

    I'm sure you will do just great with your 7 miles! If that makes you feel any better, I have performed the training for all three of my half-marathons last year 95-99% of the time on the treadmill. I'm not kidding. That thing might be boring, but it actually does the work :)

    Regarding your mocha bars: I am all about putting in as much coffee into my day as I can, so your bars are a great idea! (They also look pretty yummy!) I'll certainly follow your suggestion of decreasing the coconut oil though, because I really like it when I can feel the mocha taste :) (Your baby on the other hand must prefer coconut :) )

    Good luck with your training!

  27. Emma says

    Talk about a burst of energy with these bars, they look great.

    Good luck with your race too, sorry to hear about you feeling unwell. Sore throats are funny thinigs, I tend to get them when I'm run down or stressed so look after yourself if you're not already :)

  28. Terra says

    Good Luck on your race, you will ROCK!!! This recipe sounds wonderful, I love new, fun energy bar recipes. I agree, sometimes the ones at the stores are not always what you are looking for. And the store bought ones can be too sugary, UGH! I was never a coffee drinker, but lately hubby and I have to have a cup every morning. That cup of coffee makes my day start perfectly!
    Take care,

  29. A little bit of everything says

    Hope you will feel better soon. The bars look amazing, thanks for sharing.
    Have a wonderful Sunday Carolyn

  30. kita says

    Everything you disliked about this recipe, makes me want to try it. I am not a fan of mocha flavors, but like the idea, so that it didn't come through strong makes me want to try them. They do look yummy regardless, and Ihope your throat eased up for your portion of the race. Good Luck! :)

  31. marla says

    Sorry to hear you were not well – hopefully your race went well this weekend. Funny how your little gal was all over these bars – my kids would be too. I also need homemade energy bars -store bought are way too sweet. xo

  32. She's Cookin' says

    I'm with your little one – these look pretty dang good! Love the crunchy seeds, flaxseed, and the rich coconut flavor! Great energy snack

  33. aimee says

    i love your blog! got here from Your Lighter Side (which i also love). i am wondering if your carb count is actual or net after subtracting the fiber? generally and specific to this recipe.
    thank you!

  34. Carolyn says

    Hi Aimee. Glad you like my blog. I always give the total carb count, not net carbs, and any fiber worth noting so someone can do their own calculations. I do this because I know diabetics who count total carbs and diabetics who count net carbs and I want everyone to be able to use this as they see fit. So in this particular case, the net carbs if you subtract for both erythritol and fiber, would only be 4g.

  35. Jen says

    Thank you for the great recipe. They are really yummy. However, mine fell apart quickly out of the fridge. That didn’t stop me from eating them with a spoon though :) Any suggestions for me? I followed the recipe.

  36. Judy says

    Yum! Perfect fit for my love of chocolate and coffee. Thank you for sharing so many wonderful recipes with us.

  37. Judy says

    Do you think I could use chia seed in place of the flax seed? I need to avoid flax seed do to being estrogen dominate.

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