How are you? If you’re in the US and are lucky enough to have today off, I hope you’re having a lovely holiday so far! My weekend was absolutely fab, and the highlight was definitely an early morning run with my fellow Fitfluential friend Jessica. It’s not often that I get to run with other people because not many folks I know are willing to get up at 4am, but Jess and I decided that, having known each other for about 2 years now, a run together was long overdue. We’re both participating in the Under Armour What’s Beautiful 3.0 competition, and we had an awesome, awesome run.
If you missed my post about my goal for the What’s Beautiful 3.0 challenge, be sure to check it out. This is a campaign unlike any other I’ve done before, and it’s about so much more than just declaring a goal and taking selfies with your phone!
Alright, now you saw the word ‘chocolate’ in the post title and you’re probably wondering what that’s about, right? Well, after having posted my favourite post-workout recovery smoothie recipe a couple of weeks ago, a couple of you wrote to me saying:
“But Angela, what if I don’t have a blender and time to make a smoothie?”
“But Angela, what if my stomach just doesn’t agree with smoothies?”
“But Angela, smoothies don’t make me feel full. I need solid food!”
If that sounds like you, then I’ve got just the trick! Let’s face it – sometimes you don’t have a blender available, nor do you have the time to make a smoothie. Maybe it’s not very nice outside and the last thing you really want is an ice-cold drink. Or maybe your body just really wants solid food. In these cases, I like to have some healthy post-workout snacks on hand that taste good and help my body to recover at the same time. Case in point:
Those are the most recent baked goods to come out of my kitchen and I’m calling them Chocolate Coconut Protein Squares. Here’s a little info about the star ingredients inside:
You’re probably already well aware of the health benefits of chocolate, and if you’re a chocoholic, I’m sure you’ve used them at some point to justify the odd (or frequent?) indulgence. You also likely know that it’s the dark chocolate that’s good for you, not the bars of super sweetened milk chocolate that you find at the grocery store check-out. (Sorry Aeros, Kit Kats and Mars Bars!) Raw cacao comes from cacao beans, which contain all sorts of lovely things like protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, iron, zinc, copper, calcium and magnesium. It also contains chemicals that make us feel excited, focused, and completely blissed out. Raw cacao is one of the world’s most highly concentrated sources of antioxidants, and contains even more than goji berries, acai berries, and dark chocolate.
Since these bars are baked, I imagine I’ve probably destroyed some of the antioxidant benefits that you’d get if you consumed the powder raw. However, the flavour raw cacao produces (while being free of sweeteners or any other nasties) is SO delicious, and along with the protein powder in this recipe, makes the bars super chocolatey.
Maca Root Powder
Just like I mentioned in my smoothie post, maca is an adaptogen, meaning that it can help the body respond more effectively to stress. This includes stress of all types, not just physical. Maca helps to balance hormones and treat hormonal issues (hello PMS!) , and is known for its libido-enhancing effect (wink wink!) It contains a nice little cocktail of minerals and vitamins, especially vitamin B-12 which provides us with energy. While it is available in capsule form, I prefer the powder because it adds a slightly nutty, caramel-y flavour to my smoothies.
Whey Protein Powder
Sorry to my vegan friends, but I haven’t quite vegan-ified this recipe just yet. While I certainly plan to try (I’ve got my VegaSport vanilla at the ready!), there is a LARGE amount of bars that needs to be worked through before I allow myself to do any more baking! Whey is the fastest-digesting form of protein, and because it is so quickly processed by our bodies, this means that our muscles receive the help they need to recover really quickly. I’m always an advocate of whole foods first, but when time doesn’t allow you to prep high-protein whole foods like eggs, beans, lean meats, legumes and other sources, the powders can certainly come in handy. Just be sure to look for one that contains little or no artificial sweeteners or flavours, and no other fake ingredients.
My all-time favourite spice, hands down. Also featured in my recovery smoothie, cinnamon is brilliant as an anti-inflammatory. It helps to ease the inflammation that builds in your body (which you may not even be conscious of) and adds a subtle hint of warm spice to these protein squares.
And now, the recipe!
As I mentioned above, I’m still working on a vegan version. I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve mastered it (which will be after I’ve eaten my way through the large number of test batches in my fridge and freezer!) These squares are a bit of a riff on Jamie Eason’s protein bars, but with a few changes and all of the superfoods listed above incorporated.
Chocolate Coconut Protein Squares
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Ingredients (16 bars)
- ¾ cup oat flour (just pulse about 1 cup of oats in your food processor until they form a flour)
- ¾ cup chocolate flavoured whey protein powder (3 average-sized scoops)
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp cacao powder
- 1 tbsp maca root powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ cup Krisda baking blend or other cup-for-cup stevia baking blend
- ½ cup egg whites
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- ½ cup water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp coconut extract
- ½ cup unsweetened flaked coconut (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350F.
Spray a 9×9” (or similar size) baking dish with cooking spray or olive oil. (Note: Do not skip this step! It’s crucial if you want to be able to get the squares out of the pan!)
Combine all of the dry ingredients in one bowl (except for stevia and coconut) and all wet ingredients (including stevia) in another.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until an even batter forms. Then stir in the flaked coconut, if using.
Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the baking dish comes out clean.
Allow the dish to cool almost completely before cutting into 16 squares.
Store in an air-tight container in the fridge, or wrap individually and freeze.
Approximate nutrition info per square: 57 calories, 1g fat (0g saturated), 13mg cholesterol, 24mg sodium, 6g carbs, 1g fiber, 2g sugar, 6g protein.
Approximate calorie breakdown: 52% carb, 6% fat, 41% protein.
As you can see from the approximate nutrition stats, these bars have the same ratio of carbs to protein. Ideally, it’s good to have a ratio of 3 or 4 parts carbs to 1 part protein for recovery. A single square is also pretty low in calories (and not what I’d consider a meal). Because of this, I’ll typically have one of these squares with a bowl of fruit and Greek yogurt, with a green smoothie, or with something else that contains quality carbohydrates. After a workout, it’s super important to not only give your muscles the protein they need to repair, but also restore the glycogen supply in your body, which is the primary fuel source when you’re working out. These bars are a tasty way to help you do it! 🙂
So tell me…
- Your dream bar flavour: What would it be?