Need a healthy snack idea for between meals on busy days? Or a quick breakfast bite that doesn’t require cooking?
Protein bars can be a great solution for this, but the ones you find in stores can be full of processed sugar, chemicals and preservatives. Some of them taste amazing, thanks to unnatural ingredients, while others most would describe as “cardboard”. Not only that, but they can get pricey – up to $3.00 for one bar. If you repeat that daily, you’re spending a heck of a lot on your between meal snacks.
I’ve started to make my own protein bars more often for all of the reasons above. I want natural food that I can make in my own kitchen with full control over the ingredients, as well as freedom to experiment with various tastes and textures.
For myself as well as my clients, I find it very important to not only eat a snack, but one that has protein for satiation and helping to maintain muscle. It can be hard to eat enough protein, so I’m not a huge fan of just eating something like an apple as a snack. One, fruit is low in protein, high in sugar, and digests quickly so you’ll be hungry again after you just spiked your blood sugar (which can contribute to fat storage).
Homemade Protein Bars
I’m also a little on the lazy side when it comes to cooking. I’ve seen some great recipes for protein bars at home, but when I see I have to bake them I move on. Probably because I’m usually making these when I’m already hungry and want them ASAP.
I adapted this vegan protein bar (unless you want to use whey) from a WellPlated.com version (thank you, Erin!) because I wanted higher protein and less carbs, and didn’t want to have to spend time baking!
I like this one because it includes some superfoods (and I added more) that also provide texture, like chia seeds and flaxseed. I want to get in as many health-boosting ingredients into one bite as possible. However, many bars like this can lack protein and be full of sugar, so I adjusted things accordingly to taste sweet and have a nice thick texture.
No-Bake Peanut Butter Superfood Bars
- 1/2 cup dates (or you can do half dates, half raisins)
- 1/8 cup chia seeds
- 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
- 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- 2/3 cup natural peanut butter (creamy or chunky) or almond butter
- 1/3 cup raw honey (You can also do one part honey, one part sugar free maple syrup to reduce sugar and calories. But the honey is thicker and will hold the bars together better, and tastes better!)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5-10 drops Stevia (optional, depending on how sweet you like them)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt
- 1/2 cup vanilla protein powder (I prefer Vega One or Orgain for a vegan version, but something like Quest Protein will taste sweeter)
- 1/8-1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut (optional)
- Optional: 1/4 cup chopped or slivered almonds for extra crunch
- Places dates in a food processor and blend into small chunks with a slightly smooth consistency. Add a few drops of water to help blend as needed.
- Add chia seeds, flaxseed then blend for a few more seconds to desired consistency.
- Add oats ( I prefer a smoother texture, so I blend until oats are in smaller pieces, but not to the point of powdery/flour-like. You can also add the oatmeal later without blending if you like the chunkier texture.) Set aside.
- In a small saucepan over medium low heat, melt together nut butter and honey, stirring frequently until smooth. (In a bind of lack of patience – which I usually me – you can also microwave for about 20 seconds at a time.) Remove from heat, then stir in the vanilla, Stevia, cinnamon, and salt.
- Pour this into a mixing bowl, then add the date/oat mixture and stir until blended.
- Add in protein powder, starting with 1/4 cup, and stir until well-blended. Continue adding protein powder until mixture is hard to stir. You’ll probably need to use your hands at the end to combine well. It should be sticky and thick. Depending on the consistency you prefer, you can add in a few drops of water at a time to help smooth. You can also add in optional ingredients here, like slivered almonds or chocolate chips.
- Lightly spray a small baking dish with oil spray. (I use a small one – about 5×7 – for thicker bars, but you can use a larger pan if you prefer thinner bars).
- Dust bottom with half of the coconut, then transfer the protein bar mixture into dish. Use a rubber spatula (or hands) to press it down and smooth.
- Sprinkle coconut on top and lightly press down into bars. Place a lid or of plastic wrap over the top and refrigerate for about 2 hours. Bars will set and thicken over time, and the flavors will come out more. Of course, you can always take a few bites while they’re still warm and smooth 🙂