By Debra Soufleris, B.S., DTR
Protein bars can be a great, effortless way to increase your protein intake or keep you going until your next meal. They work nicely for a great on-the-go travel snack or quick meal replacement. But, homemade protein bars can provide the nutrition you need without the extra additives.
There’s no denying the convenience they provide for all of us who are super busy and just want something healthy and quick pre or post-workout. There are even some fairly decent options that you can buy in the store these days. However, many store-bought varieties are packed with processed ingredients, too much sugar, extra additives, and can be very costly if you’re on a budget.
Unfortunately, way too many of the bars on the market contain a lengthy list of hard to pronounce ingredients, are loaded with hydrogenated oil (aka trans fats), too much sugar—or even worse, artificial sugar that is known to wreak havoc on our digestive systems. Emergency bathroom run at the gym anyone? No thanks!
Additionally, in order to remain shelf-stable, they may contain all sorts of preservatives and a bunch of fillers that are void of nutrients. They may throw in some extra vitamins and minerals, and fiber – but seriously, you can get that on your own with real food. Some bars on the market are basically nothing more than glorified candy bars.
That’s where homemade protein bars come into play. By making your own bars, you are in complete control over the ingredients and flavors. You have the freedom to customize the macronutrient profile, sugar content, and salt levels to suit your personalized preferences. They are simple to make and require just a few ingredients that you probably already have on hand. Many recipes do not even require any cooking at all. So, no pressure! I find it fun to play around with the ingredients to create new flavors and textures.
To get started, choose from the many types of protein powder to pick one that matches your needs. Then, try one of the recipes below. I promise, once you start making your own at home, you will never turn back. You’ll end up with healthier, tastier bars that will save you a ton of money in the long run. For starters, try this recipe below.
Adapted from Sweet Peas and Saffron
*Optional Toppings: crushed nuts and seeds, unsweetened shredded coconut, cocoa nibs, mini dark chocolate chips, dried fruit, granola
Feel free to use any type of nut butter you like. I suggest experimenting with your preferred tastes and textures. Sky’s the limit!
|1. In a medium bowl mix the peanut butter, honey, coconut oil, vanilla until smooth. Add in the ground flaxseed meal and protein powder of choice and mix using clean hands until it becomes a cookie-like dough.||3. Make the chocolate layer by adding 2.5 ounces of dark chocolate to a small saucepan and melt until completely smooth. Pour the melted chocolate over the cookie dough until the whole surface is fully covered.|
|2. Press into an 8×4 inch pan lined with parchment paper.||4. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour before slicing into bars or squares. Bars will keep for up to two weeks.|