Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Home made protein bar recipe with vegan alternative

The Husbando is a hard core triathlete.  What that means is that he is always training for something and I am constantly feeding him.  Examining our food budget, we realized a ton of money was being wasted on protein bars that weren't necessarily very healthy.  So I tried out about 9 different home made protein bar recipes and basically ended up creating my own through a lot of trial and error and a lot of disgusting outcomes that the Husbando was very sweet about rejecting.  I use natural nut or seed butters so I keep the bars frozen after I make them--they are definitely not as convenient as the preservative full store-bought ones, but great for the every day bar eating!  I have made three variations of these bars now and am including those ideas in this recipe.  We like to rotate flavors.  The ingredients may change but the steps are the same.  To make the bars vegan, eliminate the whey protein and substitute carob chips for chocolate chips and agave for honey.

Dried Cranberry Oat and White Chocolate Protein Bars
1.  2 cups oats (I used Old Fashioned today but sometimes cut in 1 cup of steel cut with 1 cup of old fashioned)
2.  1/4 cup of chocolate whey protein powder (eliminate if dairy allergy or vegan)
3.  1/2 cup honey (use Agave if vegan)
4.  1/2 cup sunflower seed butter (I also used peanut butter and almond butter depending on what's in the cupboard or refrigerator or what you're allergic to)
5.  1 cup dried cranberries (we also make them with dried apricots--yum!)
6.  1/2 cup to 1 cup of white chocolate chips (regular semi-sweet chocolate chips are the easiest to spread, then butterscotch, then white chocolate--if dairy allergy or vegan, use carob chips)

 Chop your dried fruit so that it will easily mix with the dry ingredients.

Combine oats, protein powder and dried cranberries in large mixing bowl.

 Combine honey and seed butter.  No need to mix it.  Microwave it for about one minute (depending on your microwave oven).
 Pour honey and seed butter mixture into dry ingredient bowl and mix with a spoon.
 Mix until combined.  (Use a spoon!  Do not use your hands--you will burn yourself on the hot honey and seed butter!)
 Spray the pan you will use.  I'm using an 8 x 11.5 pan.  Or you can use two smaller pans or even a larger pan, it just means your bars will be a different thickness or will yield a different number.
 Moisten hands and press into the pan so that every inch of the pan is pretty much equally covered.
 Put your white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and begin to microwave.  Probably in 30 second increments so that you don't burn the chips.  It may take awhile.  I tend to be more daring and start the chips in the microwave at 1 minute and then do 20 to 30 second increments of heating after that.  Continue to mix it until it is melted.
 Spread with a spoon or spatula onto your bar mixture.  Now this can be a bit tricky because your pan is greased so your bar mixture will want to move.  Also, regular chocolate chips melt and spread the best.  White chocolate chips are a total pain and don't look as nice.  Do your best to spread it evenly.  Also, experiment with how much you want to start out with in terms of chips.  I would go VERY light if you're using butterscotch chips---a little butterscotch goes a long way!  You can also drizzle chocolate instead of making to a frosting-type topping.
 Once you have spread the white chocolate topping on the bars, freeze for at least 20 minutes in the freezer.
 After 20 minutes, use a knife to cut around the edge of the pan, loosening up the bars.
 Turn the pan over and flop the bar mixture down onto a cutting board.
 Cut your bars.  I made five big bars and six small bars.  Generally this yields between 8 and 10 bars depending on how you cut them.
 Here are the finished bars.
 Here are the three variations of bars with different nut and seed butters and dried fruit and chip toppings.  I individually wrap the bars and stick them in the freezer for easy on the go access.  They don't need to be defrosted--you can eat them pretty much immediately (unless you have super sensitive teeth!).  I store them in the freezer because they are made with natural seed or nut butter which means they have no or few preservatives and wouldn't keep well past a few hours outside of that.  If you're using a butter with preservatives your bars are probably safe to use and consume like regular baked goods.

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