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Homemade Fruit and Nut Protein Bars

05 Mar
Homemade Fruit and Nut Protein Bars

I’ve been doing a pretty good job of keeping on my diet. I usually try to consume between 1400 to 1600 calories a day, as this is the best way for me to maintain and lose weight. Any more than that, and I’ll gain weight if I’m not active enough. Kind of a shame, really, since I love eating.

The game plan, as of late, is to keep breakfast and lunch as low carb and low fat as possible. I tend to stick with anything that has natural sugars, such as fruit, and almost eliminate starches for this part of my day. Yogurt and fruit smoothies, canned tuna or chicken sans mayo, raw veggies, and small amounts of nuts as a snack tend to be the daily food items. If I’m really hungry, I’ll supplement with a protein shake.

Often times, when I forget to pack a lunch or I’m in a hurry, I’ll try to find a high protein bar, such as a Clif bar or Powerbar. The problem that I run into, however, is I feel that they don’t have enough protein, and they often have ridiculous amounts of sugar. Many of these bars range from 230 to 300 calories, versus a standard granola bar being no more than 160 calories. And, these high calorie bars are no more filling than the latter. The calories seem to mostly come from sugars, which would explain why they never keep you full.

I had heard of people making their own high protein bars, so I set out to find a recipe that I thought I could play with. I was pretty skeptical, of course, thinking that the end result would either fall apart in a mess and not be practical, or would just taste absolutely horrid.

In the end, though, I think I found a decent recipe that will be easy to play with in the future. It’s incredibly easy, and only takes about 10 minutes to put together once scaled.

So, I know this isn’t really cooking. It even kind of goes against what I sought out to accomplish in a blog, which is to provide accessible recipes for real food. These bars are essentially a supplement for real food, which is something I’ve often fought myself against. It’s the reason why I don’t eat meals out of a box or freezer. Well, maybe with some experimentation, I can assemble a real protein bar with nothing but real ingredients. Alas, I thought I would share this anyway, if only to show that even I have difficulty staying true to the things I believe in. And they don’t taste half bad besides 😉

Homemade Fruit and Nut Protein Bars

Makes 10 Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of dry oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 6 scoops of vanilla flavored protein powder (I used Muscle Milk because it’s cheap)
  • 1 package of dry Carnation Instant Breakfast, vanilla flavored
  • 2 Tablespoons of shelled roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons of shelled roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup of almond slivers, slices, or whole almonds pulsed in a food processor
  • 1/4 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup of natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup of water

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the oatmeal, whole wheat flour, protein powder, Carnation powder, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, and cranberries.

    Mix together the dry stuff

    Mix together the dry stuff

  2. Add the peanut butter and cut it into the dry ingredients with your hands like you would with butter if you were making a pie dough or scone.

    Cut in the peanut butter

    Cut in the peanut butter

  3. Add the water and mix together with your hands. It will be a very firm dough, somewhat difficult to work with. You may need to add another splash of water, as I did, so it’s not too crumbly.

    It makes a very firm dough

    It makes a very firm dough

  4. Press the dough into a 9 x 9 square glass baking dish. Refrigerate for an hour.

    Press into a 9 x 9 pan

    Press into a 9 x 9 pan

  5. Use a knife to cut around the sides. Cut into ten bars by going down the middle once, and then horizontally into fifths. The bars will stick a little to the glass, but I used a flat spatula and easily removed them one at a time once cut.

    Cut, store, eat

    Cut, store, eat

  6. Store these in an airtight container in the fridge.

 

They're better than I expected them to be

They're better than I expected them to be

The total recipe equals 1784 calories, 50 grams of fat, 156 grams of carbohydrates, 21 grams of fiber, and 190 grams of protein. Cutting the recipe into 10 bars yields a bar that is 178 calories, 5 grams of fat, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, and 19 grams of protein. Not too shabby.

I prefer cutting them into ten, but if you’re looking for a bar that packs more protein or carbs, you can cut them into any size you want.

Feel free to substitute different seeds, nuts, or dried fruit, although this will likely change the nutrition slightly. Laura even mentioned dipping them in dark chocolate, which would increase the antioxidants and add a small kick of caffeine, which increases metabolism, though it would also add a few extra calories.

My only real issue with these is the large amount of vanilla flavored protein powder, most of which use artificial sweeteners in lieu of actual sugar to cut the calories. I’m always weary of sweeteners, as some haven’t been studied very much, and the ones that have been have been found to be terrible for the body and metabolism. Perhaps milk powder could be a substitute?

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Posted by on March 5, 2012 in Food, Health

 

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