Saturday, September 8, 2018

DIY Homemade Power Protein Bars

I first learned a version of this idea a couple years ago from a web search, but I have changed it a LOT and I like it even better with the changes I made! (updated again 9/17/2020)

This is an easy project, though it is time consuming and messy!

You will need a food processor and either a stand mixer or a big bowl and a strong mixing arm! (side note ... I have had my Kitchen Aid 5qt Tilt Head Stand Mixer for 25 years and it's still going as strong as ever! TOTALLY worth the investment! I'm not always gentle with it LOL)

I have chosen ingredients that are nutrient dense to make this a POWER PUNCH of nutrition fuel. You can research the nutritional values for each item, I include some comments about why I chose each ingredient.

Choose organic, bulk, local or homegrown ingredients as suits your lifestyle, but I always recommend getting the highest quality ingredients that you can afford and are available for you. I have included some Amazon affiliate links for items I buy.

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (it's a complete protein and a pseudo-grain, and helps provide the sustaining fuel for your morning! I make a decent batch and use the rest for salads and pilafs! YUM!)

  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (high in protein)
    • optional add 1 cup of any sort of nuts you like. I occasionally throw in walnuts or Brazil nuts. You can substitute for the pumpkin seeds, but I tend to add them as additional.

  • 1 can drained or 1-1/2 cups cooked beans. Mung beans are the most nutritionally dense, but are are more expensive and can be difficult to find canned, so you have to buy them dry and cook them. I most often use garbanzo or black beans for ease of access. The photos show canned drained garbanzo.

  • 12 dried figs. Darker figs are more nutrient rich, but are not available everywhere.

  • 1 cup fresh ground nut butter of your choice. I use peanut because I like it best and I'm allergic to almonds. Do NOT use the peanut butter that has ingredients (Skippy or Jiff)! If your nut butter has ingredients other than nuts and salt put it back on the shelf and walk away! The added industrial sugar and hydrogenated whatevers will wreck your bars and your health! And that's not nutritionally sound. Check those nutrition labels.

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder. Cocoa is not only tasty but is high in antioxidants. Make sure this is 100% cocoa, no added sugar or flavor. No, chocolate milk mix is not a substitute.

  • 1/2 cup unflavored unsweetened protein powder. I use a pea powder because most of the whey powders I have found in my area have added soy which I do not eat. Again, read labels.

  • 1 bar of 100% cocoa baking chocolate all chopped up. Unsweetened. You can also use a cup of carob chips, or dark chocolate chips, I just don't like all the added sugars.

  • 1/3-1/2 cup dark or black strap molasses. You COULD use honey, but molasses is amazingly rich in minerals and adds a richness to the overall flavor of the bars that I LOVE! (click here to get molasses on Amazon)

  • coffee or water as needed for the texture.

Ready? ... let's get messy! I've got lots of pictures to walk you through each step.
  1. First up, get out your food processor and put in the beans, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, nuts if you are using them and the figs (take the little stems off as you toss them in! You'll be glad you did!)

  2. Whir that around until it's as blended up as your machine will get it. It DOES NOT need to be smooth or creamy.

  3. Dump this into the mixing bowl.

  4. Add all the other ingredients and mix it up.

  5. It can be dry and crumbly, so add 1 tablespoon at a time of coffee (the beverage! not the grounds!) until you have a dough about the consistency of playdough. If you don't want the added caffeine of the coffee, use water.

  6. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. You can use a brownie pan, that seems to be a good size. The one I use is a 1/4 sheet commercial pan that I got at a local food service supply. You will thank me for this step of lining your pan with paper! It makes everything that comes later so much easier!

  7. Dump in your dough. Using a second piece of waxed paper, pat, press and rub the dough out evenly into the pan. Snip the corners of the parchment paper as necessary to miter them so it's not all bunched up in the corners and causing issues there!
  8. After it's all flat, trim away the excess parchment that is sticking above the pan.

  9. Bake at 325 degrees for only 15 minutes! You are not COOKING this! The ingredients are already cooked. You are heating it to meld the ingredients. If it cooks too long you will have a crumbly mess.

  10. Take it out of the oven and put it in the fridge to cool for several hours. All day or all night is great! You want it to be cold all the way through.
  11. After it's cold, turn the cold pan upside down on a cutting sheet or another piece of parchment, and peal away the paper that lined the pan!
  12. Now, cut into brownie sized squares!

    Store in a container or zip-lock bag in the fridge. They are NOT shelf stable! BUT will be fine for the day in a lunch box.

And there you have it! NOW! Go clean up the kitchen!

Did you try this recipe?
I'd love to hear your experience with it! Please comment below and share the link to this article so other people can find it too!


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Responding Instead of Reacting

When we make our inquiry, then sit quietly and listen for a reply we will hear it.
Now, I don't mean necessarily mean sit, but we do need to quiet our minds so that we are able to receive an answer.
That applies equally to our interactions with the people in our lives! How many times do we ask our spouse/partner something and expect an emmediate response!?
If we are certain our query was received by our loved one, what if we become ok with letting the response process for 30 seconds, a minute, 5 minutes?
Unless a response is urgent, like, someone is in danger, what's the harm in letting one another process to a healthy respectful response instead of blurting out a reaction.
I need to work on being ok with letting ME ponder more before opening my mouth. Slowing my reaction down to a response is not an instinct for me. But it does feel better when I can!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Living Well is More Important Than Ever

I was cleaning the gutters of our house and feeling so blessed for  the health and ability to do this task. Thankful that I could spend that time with my husband, working on the care of our home together.

Sometimes it's the simple things that make our lives good, right?

How you define Living Well?

As we more and more frequently hear of celebrities choosing to end their lives; and more and more people in our own circles following suit, I can't help but ask what's happening?

But maybe more importantly, what acts of kindness can I, can we, implement into our lives that might help encourage another person?

You never know if the person passing you in the grocery store isle is hurting. Physically, emotionally. That is exhausting stuff.

You don't know if that person pushing you through traffic is late for a job they are scared to loose.

I have made a small practice over the last handful of years of smiling at strangers. Commenting kindly at the store. Trying to connect to my fellow humans in small genuine ways.

Sometimes it is received with a smile.

Other times with suspicion.

But, maybe if all of us thought about the broader collection of neighbors we share the planet with, with a little more kindness and curiosity people might feel a little less disassociated, more connected, more alive.

Didn't we learn this stuff as kids from Fred Rogers? Why do so many people think that is only for TV? Only for children? Only for the Land of Make-believe?

It's not!

It's more important than ever to just #benicetopeople

I am going to do more random acts of kindness.
Smile more and hold conversations with strangers.
Engage in life more with my family.
Ask questions.
Listen to answers.
Care up close, instead of at a distance.

There are a couple of projects I am doing to put this into action!

I am making quilts for my kids made with bits of fabric from their childhood.

I am going to make little crochet hearts that my friend is going to sprinkle along her path driving her daughter across country. The idea comes from the Payton Heart Project:

I am making breast prosthesis in honor of my friend who was just diagnosed:

I am sharing my growing collection of reusable grocery bags by helping people bag their groceries at my local WinCo!

I am smiling at strangers.

What might feel right for you to do?
Share in the comments! You just might inspire and encourage someone through that!

Live Well!