The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

June 14, 2010

Homemade “Power Bars” and “Wheat Thins” Without Plastic

You guys, I made Wheat Thins and fake Lara Bars this weekend! I actually baked without making a huge disaster. Not even a small disaster. And I cleaned up the kitchen too.

When I decided to live plastic-free, I had to give up energy bars, crackers, and most processed snack foods. Other plastic-free bloggers have found themselves with the same dilemma: how to munch without the plastic, as well as the additives that come in those crunchy snacks.

Healthy Snacks To GoWell, my blogger friend Katie from Kitchen Stewardship has published a whole e-Book called Healthy Snacks to Go. (If you purchase via links on this site, My Plastic-Free Life earns a small commission!) Katie sent me a copy to review, and what I love about this book is that most of the snack ideas can be made plastic-free.

Katie’s recipes are very, very easy to understand even for someone like me who is phobic about baking after an early pita bread fiasco left me covered in flour with nothing to show for my efforts but a bunch of tooth-breaking frisbees. Each recipe in the book is labeled with icons indicating features of that snack, such as whether there are certain allergens in it, how expensive it is to make, and how much work is required. The Power Bars I made (actually Power Balls) were “medium intensity” and the Wheat Thins are labeled “hard.” But honestly, if I could make them, how hard can they actually be???

Homemade “Power Bar” Balls

The ingredients for the Power Bars can be rolled out into bars or rolled up into balls. Balls are way easier for me, so that’s what I chose. There are 14 different Power Bar recipes in the book. Here are the ingredients for the one I decided to make. It’s a modified version of Katie’s Basic Date and Nut Bars using only ingredients I already had in the house:

Power Bars ingredients

1) Almonds from the Whole Foods bulk bin
2) Dates from Whole Foods bulk bin
3) Coconut from Whole Foods bulk bin
4) Cocoa Powder from Whole Foods bulk bin
5) Spectrum Organic Coconut Oil in glass jar (There is plastic inside the jar lid.)
6) Frontier Organic Fair Trade Vanilla in Glass bottle. Unfortunately, the cap and label are both plastic.
7) Tiny bit of maple syrup from Whole Foods bulk container (not shown). That ingredient was not part of Katie’s original recipe, but my sweet tooth required just a little extra sugar. :-)

I purchased all the bulk items using my own reusable bags and containers. And here is the result:

Homemade Power Bars

These balls were so delicious I had to restrain myself from eating them all at one time.

Homemade “Wheat Thins”

I just couldn’t believe I would be able to make crackers that actually tasted and crunched and stayed together like storebought crackers.  But I had to give this recipe a try because I used to love Wheat Thins, which I don’t buy anymore because of the plastic bag (inside the box) treated with BHT, a preservative suspected to cause cancer.

Here are the resulting “Wheat Thins” and the ingredients I used to make them:

Homemade Wheat Thins

1) Whole Wheat Flour from Whole Foods bulk bin
2) Salt (from cardboard box)
3) Organic Sugar (from Whole Foods bulk bin) but another sweetener could be used
4) Paprika, which came from a plastic bottle that I’ve had for over three years. Once this is gone, I’ll be able to switch to bulk paprika from Whole Foods.
5) Spectrum Organic Coconut Oil in glass jar.
6) Frontier Organic Fair Trade Vanilla in glass jar (with plastic cap and label)
7) Tap Water

Katie’s recipe actually calls for cold butter, but I didn’t have butter in the house because I am, as Alicia Silverstone calls it, “flirting” with veganism. And Katie assured me that coconut oil can pretty much always be substituted for butter in recipes. In this case, she was right!  I also sprinkled grated cheese on the tops of a few of the crackers before baking them because I am still working on that huge 12-pound wheel of cheese I wrote about last year, and because I am only “flirting” with veganism.

Katie’s recipe suggests using parchment paper, but I rolled out and baked mine right on a lightly greased stainless steel cookie sheet, and they came out just fine. They did not stick. They crunch like real crackers and taste much better than actual Wheat Thins. I used them to scoop up fresh hummus (the other ingredient in the photo above.) And you know what? Even though I had to bake and use a rolling pin and get flour all over the kitchen counters and myself and the floor, I would do it again!

Homemade Wheat Thins

In addition to the recipes, the book includes a handy list of snacks that are so easy and obvious that they don’t even require a recipe, and yet many of us forget about them when scrounging for something to eat.  But what really rocks my world is Katie’s list of strategies for “Reduced Waste Healthy Lunch Packing” at the back of the book. Not everyone who buys Katie’s book is thinking about reducing waste. They just want yummy snacks with whole ingredients. Well, packaging is an ingredient too, and Katie wants to remind people of that.

Don’t know how to use an e-Book? Don’t worry. Katie’s book has instructions for that too!

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3 years ago

Coconut oil is unquestionably the worst fat out there. No one should ever put it in their mouth. It is great for hair and skin though.

12 years ago

Those wheat thins look awesome. I have been looking for a better cracker recipe! I also wanted to share the simplest granola bar recipe ever. I make them for my kids all the time and can be made plastic free. All you do it warm 1 cup bulk almond butter and 1 cup local honey on low until they are warm enough to blend together. then stir it into 2 1/2 to 3 cups bulk oats (toasted or raw) and up to a cup of whatever you like. I do flaxseed, pecans, and chocolate chips, all on bulk. I also recently did home dried apples, flaxseed and cinnamon. All you do is mix them up and press them into a buttered pan. refrigerate until it is firm enough to cut into squares. Then, freeze them. They are chewy and crunchy from the freezer and softer from the fridge, unless you opt for peanut butter, which tends to be firmer than almond butter in the fridge. Hope you like!

12 years ago

Sounds delicious! Thank you so much for posting this!

12 years ago

The granola bar recipe has piequed my interest! I love granola bars, but have been avoiding them for the last year or so.

And I’m all over that Wheat Thin recipe!

12 years ago

As soon as I saw the mention of a cracker recipe I had to have a look. That is the one that interests me the most because I have recipes for meusli bars and muffins. It would be great to have alternatives though – especially as they are placsic free!!
I’d like to see a plastic-free alternative for packets of dried fruit. There are some that use cardboard but many don’t and the cardboard is sometimes re-wrapped in plastic.

12 years ago

I am most interested in her reverse engineered larabars. I hadn’t heard that term “flirting with veganism” before, but that is a good description of me. I didn’t see when the deadline is for entering the giveaway, but I’m hoping since I didn’t see a winner announced that I’m not too late!

12 years ago

The powerbars and wheat thin crackers you made look amazing. I would also love to get my hands on the tater skin crispies. they sound delicious.

12 years ago

The banna flax muffins have perked my interest. I already make a mean pumpkin and apple-carrot muffin, but really don’t cook with bananas that much. Believe it or not, I have been thinking of adding more flax into my diet. I’ll have to see if flax seeds affect the apple carrot muffin taste too much.

I would love to win the book.

12 years ago

Mm, I’d love the banana muffins!

12 years ago

Mmmm… tater skin crispies! Honestly though, it all sounds really good :)

12 years ago

Oh, I’ve been on a quest for a wheat thins recipe. I just cannot seem to motivate myself to make crackers (which is odd, given that I bake bread all the time!). lol

12 years ago

I made the powerballs (or a close approximation of them, at any rate) and they are *awesome*! Also, mine came out to about $.50 a ball, and keeping in mind that I live in Hawaii–that is ridiculously cheap for a high energy/protein snackfood. Thanks so much for posting this. I might have forgotten all about my hairbrained idea of making my own.

12 years ago

The pumpkin muffins! No, the tater crisps! Oh, oh – so delicious!

I’d have to go for power bars/balls for the boy during his day at summer camp (they’re teaching him surfing!) and I’ll manage with creamy garlic veggie dip! MMmmmm…..

And . . . I’ll be coming back on a daily (reading) basis!

12 years ago

I’ve got to say that the Creamy Garlic Veggie Dip caught my attention the most. Stomach is definitely rumbling now.

I’ve already cut back majorly on unhealthy snacks like potato chips and Doritos, but if there was a healthy way I could make these myself, I’d be in some cheese-flavored version of heaven.

12 years ago

I would be super excited about all of the power bars for my kids but also for granola.

Sarah S
12 years ago

Peanut Butter Kisses! Assuming there is chocolate in them, that is.

Nana Sadie
12 years ago

Oh! Peanut Butter Kisses (after I go try the Wheat Thins)
Thank for adding me to the contest!

12 years ago

Oh protein bars. I am looking for a good recipe that is not too sweet, maybe this would be it? Or the popeye bars, always thinking about how to eat more spinach.
Thanks and hope I win!

12 years ago

Wow, You have totally inspired me to try this!

12 years ago

I need to try the Wheat Thins, I love the commercial version, but don’t buy them. I also like the sound of the stove top rice pudding.

12 years ago

Yummy! I’ve been trying out different homemade crackers lately, and am not 100% thrilled with the results, so I’d love the wheat thins recipe. My go-to plastic-free snack is popcorn (discovered this when trying to do the 100-mile diet a few years ago and had to take away the kiddies’ Cheddar Bunnies). I would love to find a plastic-free substitute for tortilla chips–we love our nachos (I do make my own tortillas–using masa harina, from a plastic bag; I could by local corn meal and garden lime and make my own masa, though) but I’m not thrilled at the idea of dee-frying anything!

Tammy (aka psmflowerlady)
12 years ago

What an awesome looking book – thanks for the giveaway opportunity – you’re nice to share. I have two teens in HS and my goal this summer is to find recipes for lunches and after-school snacks that are healthful and they will eat (they really are rather adventurous eaters, so it should be fun as well!). I’m definitely going to try the Wheat Thin recipe – thanks.

12 years ago

Thanks for hosting a great giveaway! I’d love to try the protein bars and the power bars/balls for my husband. He rides his bicycle a lot and buys individual packs wrapped in plastic. Hopefully, I can change his ways. :) And thanks for your site. I’ve learned a lot! ~~Rhonda

Elizabeth B
12 years ago

I have to pick one??? ;)

Ooooh, protein bars. Power bars. Rice pudding. *drools*

Lara S.
12 years ago

Oh my god, it looks like this is a giveaway in which I can participate, because you wouldn’t have to send anything by post, right? Yay!!! :D
I’d like to try this because this kind of ingredients are the ones I can get in bulk (oat, dried fruits, seeds, flour, cocoa, coconut) and are completely vegetarian and can be veganized, for what I see…
I’d love to try the pumpkin muffins!

12 years ago

Totally the smoothies and yogurt!

12 years ago

Yum! I know what I’m making this weekend!

Stormy R
12 years ago

I would love to try the homemade cinnamon applesauce.

I would also love to find to find a homemade alternative to Goldfish or really any cheesy type cracker.

12 years ago

I am a horrible mother because I won’t buy crackers.
Please save my children from the Children’s Aid by awarding me this book!

~ Crackerless in Toronto

The Green Cat
12 years ago

Perfect timing Beth! I’m just about to make my own protein bars for the first time tonight. I’d love to check out Katie’s e-book and see how she handles protein bars!

The Green Cat
12 years ago

Perfect timing Beth! I’m just about to make my own protein bars for the first time tonight. I’d love to check out Katie’s e-book and see how she handles protein bars!

12 years ago

Oh Beth! I’m so excited! Just last night, less than twelve hours ago, I was wondering aloud to my husband and roommate if I’d be able to make granola bars from scratch! And here before me appears a power ball recipe and wheat thins no less! Fantastic. Snack food is always a big deal for me because I’m hypoglycemic, and I especially need protein snacks when I’m exercising regularly (which currently I am). I refuse to buy packaged granola bars anymore because of the packaging, but what that really means is a lot of days I spend a lot of time roaming around the kitchen (or work) grumbling about how there’s nothing to eat two hours before or after a meal. I’m definitely going to make the power balls. And looking at Katie’s table of contents, I would try pretty much every variation of the granola and protein bars as well. Of course, I’ll substitute carob because I’m allergic to chocolate (I know, tragic), but I really like carob so that’s easy for me. Oh yay! Even if I don’t win the book– what a great find! Thank you!


12 years ago

The wheat thin style crackers peak my interest for sure, but I’d also really like to try to protein bars. I just started making my own granola and would love to try my hand at other recipes!

12 years ago

I’d really love to try out the peanut butter kisses! The power balls look really good too! I work at a gym and those would be nice to have after my classes!

12 years ago

OOh. The peanut butter kisses are intriguing…but honestly the wheat thins are what is making me salivate most now.

Yours look delicious!

12 years ago

I would love to win this book! I think the Wheat Thin Style Crackers would be wonderful! Also, the peanut butter kisses would definitely be something I could make for my dad.

12 years ago

I don’t even have to head over to the book to figure out which one I wanted to try. I am still eating out of a box of Lara bars that I bought for the kids and Eduardo who decided that they didn’t like them after all even though they had eaten boxes of them previously. *ARGH* But once these were gone I thought I was going to have to just give it all up. I also eat crackers still and not particularly willing to give them up.

So… your blog has actually hit the two things I would want most out of it!

12 years ago

always looking for good snacks especially for the kids

12 years ago

I’m definitely interested in learning how to make my own powerbars! That’s such a great idea.

12 years ago

I would love to try the fruit rolls for my girls – they’re always asking for the fruit rolls and gummi snacks at the store. I hope the recipe does not require a dehydrator, because I don’t own one.

For me, the peanut butter kisses and lara bars soud wonderful!

12 years ago

popeye bars?! Spinach (i assume) in a to go munchie? I’m intrigued!

12 years ago

I would love to know how to make fruit rolls.
I just love fruit, and while buying fruits involves very little plastic I have not yet found good recepies to make delicious snacks out of fruit.

12 years ago

Crackers—- all recipes about crackers. I would love a cracker replacement – I specifically have a slight addiction to stone wheat thins. I do worry about trying to make as many of the recipes as possible using local ingredients (like most stuff I eat) – but crackers have been my non-local, waste packaged weakness…so even with some non local ingredients required it is an improvement on the situation.

Ashley C
12 years ago

OMG homemade Wheat Thins! Youve given me a new reason to live LOL they are one of my most fav things and I miss them. But I had to do what was right for my body and my conscience, so this is super exciting to find out!!!

The tater skin crispies sounds yummy too! My hubby just introduced me to TGI Fridays potato skin chips and although delicious, they go against my feelings of right. So if they are anything like each other, Id be in heaven!

12 years ago

My nickname as a child was The Cracker Monster and I’m lovin’ the look of those Wheat Thins! Not something I have access to over here in Egypt. I’ve been making my own granola for a couple of years now so I’d be interested in learning about the Soaked Granola Bars.

12 years ago

That’s funny. This morning, I was wondering how could everybody give up snacks so easily! It’s easy for me not to buy food in containers. But snacks were more difficult. These are great ideas. Thanks, Beth.
I love Japanese snacks and Japanese tend to over-package everything. I hate to buy a plastic bagged rice crackers, which has another small plastic bags contain a few rice crackers for each serving! Too many wrappings!

12 years ago

soaked granola bars
all made me hungry!!!

knutty knitter
12 years ago

Ok I’m definitely in for those power bars (no idea what larabars are but assume they’re some kind of muesli bar) I’m absolutely fed up with commercial ones in individual packages!

viv in nz

12 years ago

As I have never had a larabar and they look so good I am REALLY wanting to know what they are all about-since everyone is raving about them!

I am always on the look out for snacks: healthy and garbage free. I find it hard when in the store, we are bombarded by products and marketing and my kids (2 and 4) “want things” that I won’t buy. I tell them that I make them real food with real ingredients and we don’t want the single use plastics, it’s wasteful and disrespectful to the planet. I don’t think they understand fully-they are too young-but it has to start somewhere. I am currently wracking my brain for something to bring to T-ball for snack that doesn’t include drinking boxes and granola bars.

Here is my bigest frustration. I lost my job over a year ago but still want to make good food choices, healthy, plastic free, and nutritious. So hard to find the information. So thank you for this link!

12 years ago

I am so excited about the wheat thins! Those look amazing.