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Making your own energy bars is an economical way to fuel you and your family. Not only are they affordable, they're also packed with flavor and can be customized to your preferences.

The market for energy bars has taken off in recent history, and it's not hard to see why. First, bars are unparalleled in their convenience, both storing and traveling well. Second, so many of us need a boost! Whether it's getting you to quitting time, powering your kids through school, or reinvigorating you or your kids after fun in the sun, quick energy is in demand. Last, but not least: they taste great! Energy bars are usually on the sweet side, often incorporating fruit and even chocolate to create tempting flavors.

Store-bought energy bars can be pricey, though, and some of them have less-than-desirable ingredient lists. You can treat yourself and your kids by making them at home. They are surprisingly easy to make — just process a handful of ingredients in a blender or food processor, press into a baking dish, cut, and serve or store. You'll feel good knowing you've not only saved money, but have made a nutritious snack made from whole foods.

An added bonus is you can tailor homemade energy bars to suit your flavor preferences. Switch up which fruits, nuts, seeds, and grains you use. Experiment with spice combinations or by adding citrus zest. You might enjoy coming up with different flavor combinations as much as your kids enjoy sampling them.

*1 cup of pitted dates
*1/2 cup of mixed nuts
*1/2 cup of sunflower seeds
*1/2 cup of raisins
*1/2 cup of cranberries
*1 ½ tablespoons of honey
*And Ziploc® brand Sandwich Bags

1. Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and process on high until the ingredients are about equally distributed and a piece of the mixture pressed between two fingers holds together evenly. The mixture does not need to be completely smooth.
2. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment or aluminum foil. Press the mixture into the pan until evenly distributed, making sure to press it all the way to the edges. If using the optional garnish, roughly chop the apricots and pistachios and gently press them into the top of the mixture.
3. Move the pan to the refrigerator for at least an hour before cutting the mixture into nine bars.
4. Store in Ziploc® brand Sandwich Bags