Last month when I was trying to eat down the contents of my kitchen prior to moving, I found myself with unusually large amounts of a few different food items. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that my cupboards held enough oats, beans, nuts, quinoa and rice to feed an army, but the supply was certainly plentiful.
In addition to my pantry stock, I also had a lot of protein powder. If you’re a protein powder user, you’ll know that those tubs can take up a lot of real estate. This was a concern of mine because of the limited amount of precious space in my luggage, as well as my desire to avoid letting anything go to waste.
So what’s a girl to do?
She makes protein bars, of course.
Back in the day (as in back in 2013, which wasn’t that long ago but it feels like ages) I had an enormous love affair with Quest Bars. I loved those soft little bites of deliciousness and found myself going back to my kitchen cupboard, grabbing an open one, slicing off ‘just a sliver’, and returning only minutes later because I just couldn’t resist. I know Lay’s potato chips has the tagline “bet you can’t eat just one”, but if Quest Bars had come out first, they could have totally owned that slogan.
The problem with the beloved Questies (aside from their addictiveness and negative impact on my wallet) was that my stomach just COULD. NOT. HANDLE them. They always seemed like a good idea in my head (especially the Chocolate Peanut Butter and Cookies n Cream ones – #foodgasm) but let’s just say that all that fiber was not handled very favourably by my digestive system. Anyone else feel the same?
My Quest Bar habit died when I realized they weren’t doing me any favours, and now I try to limit use of store-bought bars to 2 situations: sports nutrition and those “getting-hangry-and-don’t-have-any-healthier-options” times. For fueling and recovering in training I’ll usually use Vega bars (Endurance Bars for during a long workout and Protein Bars for after sessions if whole food meals aren’t as readily available, like after races). Then, just in case an emergency situation should arise, you’ll find some sort of bar in my handbag – typically Simply Bars, Vega Snack Bars, and Larabars, although the latter never really seem to fill me up – they disappear way too fast! Regardless of the brand, a recognizable ingredients list is always the top priority and as you’d probably agree, there’s a LOT of seemingly ‘healthy’ options out there that really aren’t healthy at all.
That’s where my surplus of protein powder comes in – plant-based protein with 8 other totally-recognizable, whole food ingredients that you might already have sitting in your pantry right. this. very. minute.
Variations of this particular recipe have been in draft status on my computer for months on end, none of which were ever blog-worthy. The week before I moved was the week that the ingredients were revisited in attempt to make some progress, and the outcome was truly the best yet.
The type of protein powder you use will definitely affect amount of liquid needed to create the right consistency for your dough. I used Vega Sport Performance Protein for these No-Bake Chocolate Chunk Protein Bars and found that ½ cup nut butter, 1 tbsp honey (or maple syrup if you’re vegan), and between 1 to 1 ¼ cups of almond milk created the best, most easy-to-knead mixture. With that said, if you choose to use a different protein powder such as whey, you might need a bit more or less liquid to achieve the same. The cashews I used were these raw unsalted ones from Prana, but you could use roasted ones if you prefer.
You’ll know you’ve nailed it if you can get your hands in there to squish the ingredients into a dough with your hands, without having it all stick to your fingers. And if a little bit does happen to stick… well, I have no doubt that you’ll find a way to get them clean again. It’s all about thorough quality control, right?
Texture-wise, these bars are fudgy, soft, and best kept in the freezer after you’ve cut them up. If you have the self-discipline to reserve them only for post-workout situations, I’m willing to bet you’ll be anticipating those bites from the moment you start to get your sweat on!
Now I’d love to hear…
- Have you made any of your own protein bars lately? Any favourite flavours or recipes to share?
- Do you have a ridiculous amount of any particular ingredient sitting in your pantry? Let me know because I love a challenge and will try to create some recipes to help you use it up!