Loving the BITE: Fresh Lemon Fuel Bars


Another ride.  Same ol’ bar.  If your fuel on the bike is anything less than inspiring, it’s time to make a change.  This week, we’ve got a Lara Bar-ish knock-off that’s sure to refresh your taste buds, legs, and wallet.    It’s no-bake, easy to make, and uses only 6 whole-food ingredients.  And, this is not your grandma’s granola bar.  It just happens to be perfect for your ride.

Recipe of the Week: Fresh Lemon Fuel Bars


  • 1 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 2 lemons
  • 18 pitted Dates
  • 2 Tbsp organic honey
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp organic coconut oil*


Place cashews and dates in food processor, process until finely chopped.  Zest 2 lemons, juice 1 lemon.  Add zest, juice, honey and salt to food processor.  Process until smooth, but not quite a paste (this doesn’t need to be exact).  Press into a greased bread loaf pan (if it’s sticky, you can use wax paper to press).  Place in freezer 1 hour, or in refrigerator until firm.  Cut into 12 equal bars or squares.  Store in refrigerator – wrap in plastic wrap to take with you.

*If you’re planning on having these while ridin gor when it’s warm, they may fall apart due to the coconut oil melting (~78 deg F). If this is the case, either plan on eating them straight out of a baggie, or omit the coconut oil.

Makes 12 bars.

Nutrition (per bar): 192 calories, 20 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 52 mg sodium, 258 mg potassium, 16 mg calcium, 82 mg magnesium


Instead of a stale, processed bar that tastes overly sweet and sugary, you can enjoy a homemade version that’s citrusy and fresh.  With 20 grams carbohydrates and 5 grams of protein, it’s perfect fuel before or during your ride.  And, with 200 calories, healthy fats from cashews, and protein, it’s got sticking power that will last through some tough hours of cycling.  What else can it do?  Well, its key ingredient, lemons, has a lot to offer for training and for overall health and disease prevention.  They provide:

  • High levels of Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that works in the body to fortify the immune system, fight free radicals that can build up during intense physical work, and reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
  • Anti-nausea properties.  When you’re nauseous, not many things help.  However, the smell and  taste of lemons can provide relief.  Since many athletes feel slightly nauseous when eating on the bike, including fresh lemons can ease an unsettled belly.
  • Anti-bacterial compounds.  These components of citrus can reduce putrefactive bacteria in both the intestines and the mouth, and thereby provide fresher breath and reduced gastrointestinal distress.
  • Mucus-busting action provides relief to athletes who suffer from build-up while training.  If you ever feel like you’re constantly “working the junk out of the lungs,” you’ve got a friend in lemons.
  • Unique flavonoid compounds that have anti-cancer properties.  In fact, limonoids have been shown to help fight cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon.


Issues in temperatures over 78 deg F: Anytime you use a coconut oil-based recipe, you’ll have some issue with them melting and falling apart when their environment is warmer than about 78 deg F (temperature at which coconut oil melts).  When I’m riding in the Spring/Summer, I often smash these into cubes or balls rather than leaving them as bars…as smashed as I can get them…they hold up better. Or, I simply eat them right out of the baggie, like you would a gel – kind of. In this case I actually appreciate not having to chew as much when I’m working hard on the bike. I always find it annoying when I bite into something hard-to-chew when I’m breathing hard from pedaling. Alternatively, if this is a deal-breaker, try either freezing the bars ahead of time OR leaving out the coconut oil (although I don’t recommed the latter since coconut oil is a valuable fuel).

For lasting energy with fresh lemony flavor, eat one bar 1-2 hours beforehand, or during the first half of any 2+ hour ride.  With any luck, you’ll ride stronger, have fresh breath, less mucus, and not one hint of nausea.  In the long run, you’ll reduce risk of cancers and fortify your immune system.  Not bad for a bar.

Fuel Your Ride.  Nourish Your Body.

Enjoy Your Ride

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21 Responses to “ Loving the BITE: Fresh Lemon Fuel Bars ”

  1. Meg on June 11, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    In the new recipe there are no instructions for adding honey but it’s listed as an ingredient. With all the sweetness of dates is the honey necessary anyway?

    • Kelli on June 12, 2015 at 5:51 pm

      Hi Meg, Thanks for the comment & question. Geesh – I really messed this one up with edits! Oh well, fixed now. The honey isn’t necessary for taste, but it does help increase the carbs for an athlete who wants them while training (the other nutrients are beneficial as well, but not as quick as carbs). If you’re using it more for a snack bar, then you can definitely leave out the honey.
      Thanks and let us know what you think! Kelli, RD

  2. Leanne on June 6, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    You mention coconut oil for this recipe (which is exactly what I’m looking for to fuel a long run) but the ingredient list and instructions do not include coconut oil. Can you please explain how much you used and at what point it was incorporated?


    • Kelli on June 11, 2015 at 7:58 am

      Hi Leanne,
      Yes, this is confusing! I ended up taking the coconut oil out of the recipe due to the issues with it melting and the bars falling apart as warmer temps, such as in a cyclist’s jersey pocket:). However, if you’d like to add some, and especially if you’re thinking of trying these at home where they can be refrigerated OR if you are okay with more of a un-formed bar in a baggie, try 1-2 Tbsp coconut oil per batch. I hope you like them; and, I’ll go back and clean up this post and add the explanation in the content. Thanks! Kelli, RD

  3. Meg on February 21, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    These are so good but we’re mush 1-2 hr into my ride and it’s only February. Ideas?

    • Kelli on February 23, 2015 at 10:19 am

      Hi Meg,
      Thanks for the comment. Yeah, it’s a bit of an issue w/ any coconut oil-based recipe. When I’m riding in hotter temps, I smash these into cubes rather than leaving them as bars…as mashed as I can get them…holds up better. Or, I simply eat them right out of the baggie, like you would a gel – kind of. In this case I actually appreciate not having to chew as much when I’m working hard on the bike. I always find it annoying when I bite into something hard-to-chew when I’m breathing hard from pedaling. I’ll actually add this to the post.
      Thanks again! Kelli J., RD

    • Kelli on February 23, 2015 at 10:22 am

      Also, you could leave out the coconut oil and they will be a bit more stable. But the coconut oil is a valuable fuel, and in my opinion, worth the mush:). Take care! Kelli, RD

  4. Bob Thyer on February 12, 2015 at 3:21 am

    Hi the nutrition values are they calculated for the whole thing or per bar?

    Bobby T

    • Kelli on February 23, 2015 at 10:17 am

      Hi Bobby – sorry about the delay here…just one bar. They are nutrient dense and a good high-fat fuel option in addition to carbs options.
      Thanks! Kelli J., RD

  5. Steve Austin on April 10, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Found this via the Cycling 360 Podcast Kelli! Made a batch tonight and they are looking great!!

    Always looking for ways of making my cycling nutrition as natural and affordable as possible. This is brilliant. :)

    • Kelli Jennings on April 10, 2013 at 5:28 pm

      Thanks Steve – I’ll take brilliant any day:). These, along with the pb-chia-honey balls have become my go-to fuel for long rides. To me, the lemon is refreshing. Hope you like them!

  6. Ross Eagle on April 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Just made a batch for tomorrow’s long ride.  Don’t know if they’ll last until tomorrow.  They taste great.  Thanks!

    • Kelli Jennings on April 23, 2012 at 5:32 pm

      Let us know how they work for you on the ride.  I just rode with them over the weekend, and I really like how easy they are to get down…but would love to hear your thoughts, too.  Have a great ride!  Kelli, RD

  7. Pam on April 19, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Another wonderful recipe Kelli.  I will add this one to my list and will need to get busy in the kitchen to catch up with all of these.

    • Kelli Jennings on April 19, 2012 at 5:56 pm

      Hi Pam, Glad you’ve got a stockpile going! Hope you enjoy this one:)  Kelli, RD

  8. Paul Kirby on April 19, 2012 at 8:16 am

    I can’t stand cashews.  Can you recommend a substitute nut?

    • Kelli Jennings on April 19, 2012 at 10:04 am

      Absolutely – you can try almonds, peanuts, pistachios, pecans, or walnuts  – or a combo of nuts.  I wouldn’t go 100% walnuts, though, as these seem like they would be a little tougher to digest while riding than the other nuts.  This recipe is pretty forgiving since you just mash it all together.  You may need to experiment a little, but they should work fine.  let us know if you come up with a masterpiece! Kelli, RD

  9. Jessy Diamond on April 19, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Sadly, I’m not a fan of date-based energy bars. I don’t like the texture.

    • Kelli Jennings on April 19, 2012 at 10:02 am

      Hi Jessy,
      If it’s the dates themselves, you can try subbing 3/4 cup golden raisins or another dried fruit.  A combo of golden raisins and dried cranberries, for example, would likely go good with the lemon flavor.  I hope this helps!  Kelli, RD

  10. Ashley Hill on April 19, 2012 at 7:02 am

    I love it. I think I’m making these tonight 😀

    – Ashley

    • Kelli Jennings on April 19, 2012 at 10:05 am

      Awesome!  I’m having a hard time keeping these in the fridge until my long weekend ride…they’re getting eaten up too quick!  Kelli, RD

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Sugar Alternatives for Energy and Hydration

Question: I am using the homebrew sugar formulations (sometimes added to green tea).  I am also trying to wean myself off 1/2 dose adrenalean “lip tonic delivery system” (biorhythm brand- caffeine, hoodia g, synephrine, yohimbe) capsule for energy.

My question is other than juice, can you suggest modifications in lieu of table sugar for energy and hydration.


Both raw/organic honey or agave can work great in the homebrew (substitute in the same quantities for the sugar, or to taste), but you do have to shake well in order to make sure they don’t settle out.  Have you tried either of these?  Also, make sure to use at least the minimum amount of salt recommended in the homebrew as the temps rise, you need the sodium replacement if you’re sweating.

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Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to www.apexnutritionllc.com.

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