Protein bars are in, but processed foods are out. What is the health-conscious protein lover to do? Make your own bar of course!
The majority of the protein bars on the market either have extremely long ingredients lists, use artificial sweeteners or stevia (I’m looking at you Quest Bar) or taste like non-food processed crap. This is a whole foods bar with plant protein, omega-3’s and minimal added sugar. What could be better?
Of course, there is one advantage the store bought bar will always have over homemade. Convenience. No mixing, no baking. For me, the 20 or so minutes it takes to make these bars is totally worth it. You only have to make them once and then get to enjoy wonderfully delicious bars all week long! These bars are sweet, salty and just a little bit tart. They make for the perfect post-workout snack, breakfast, or even a healthy dessert!
In order to simplify the ingredients I originally tried making these bars with maple syrup instead of brown rice syrup. Nope, big time FAIL. Even after hours of freezing the bars just don’t stick together. You end up with a sticky nut mixture, that is tasty, but definitely not a “bar.” Do yourself a favor and go buy some brown rice syrup at Lassen’s or Whole Foods. Be sure to line the pan with parchment paper, otherwise they will stick.
If you are wondering why I call these protein bars but don’t actually add any protein powder I would like to direct you to this recent study which found a strong association between protein supplement use (in the form of pills and powders) and testicular cancer. Totally legitimate study (British Journal of Cancer) with alarming results. I have officially changed my stance on protein powder from being generally unimpressed to really strongly recommending that you don’t use it. Save your balls, make these bars instead.
- 1½ cups lightly salted mixed nuts, roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- ⅓ cup chopped dried apricots
- ⅓ cup Grapenuts Cereal
- 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
- ¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
- ¼ cup brown rice syrup
- 1 tbsp almond butter
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Line 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper
- Mix all dry ingredients together in a medium bowl
- In small bowl, stir together syrup and almond butter until combined. Pour into nut mixture and mix until well combined.
- Transfer bar mixture to prepared baking dish.
- Using an extra sheet of parchment paper, press down firmly on the mixture to form it to the pan.
- Bake for 15 minutes; allow bars to cool completely in pan. Place in fridge or freezer for faster cooling.
- Remove parchment paper with cooled bars from the pan and using a serrated knife, slice into 10 even bars. Remove parchment paper from bottom of each bar.
- Wrap each bar with plastic wrap to store for a snack. Store bars at room temperature for up to 1 week and up to 2 weeks in the fridge.