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!