Monday, February 28, 2011

Moosewood Mondays: Homemade Protein Bars

For the past few weeks I've been successfully going to the gym.  There are two reasons why I've been successful.  The biggest reason is that my friend joined the gym and we have been going together. Just knowing that she is waiting for me is enough to get me up and out of the house.  It's a great motivator.  The second reason I've been successful is because my friend and I LOVE the Aqua Zumba class.  Neither one of us looks forward to putting on our bathing suits, but we do look forward to the class.  It's fun, it's somewhat relaxing being in the water, and it's just a great workout.

Even though I grab something to eat before the class, I am absolutely famished, starving, and ready to eat everything in site when I'm done with the class.  Being in that water makes you really hungry!  Last week I was unprepared and made some really bad food choices.  This week I am trying to get a bit more organized and think ahead.  I decided to make these Homemade Protein Bars so that I could pack them in my gym bag and have something to eat on the way home.  These homemade protein bars are great for anyone on the go.  They're delicious, filling, and very satisfying.  I think they'll do the trick just fine!

Homemade Protein Bars
Adapted from Sunlight Cafe by Mollie Katzen
Yields about 20 bars

Nonstick spray
1 cup soy protein powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup oat bran (I subbed wheat germ)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 2/3 cup (packed) brown sugar (I used 2/3 cup)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1-1/2 cups plain or vanilla yogurt (I used vanilla Greek yogurt)
1/4 cup canola oil (I subbed 1/2 peanut butter) *see list of variations below
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F (325F for a glass pan).  Lightly spray a 9-by 13-inch baking pan and a baking tray with nonstick spray.

Mix together the protein powder, flour, oats, oat bran, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.  Crumble in the brown sugar, rubbing it with your fingers to break up any clumps.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Measure the yogurt, oil, vanilla into a second bowl, stirring until well combined.  Add the wet mixture to the dry, and mix patiently until thoroughly blended.  (You may have to use your hands - it will be a thick batter, verging on a dough).

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan, patting it evenly into place with your hands.  Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes, the remove from the oven and cut into bars of any size or shape.  Place the bars on the prepared baking tray and bake for another 15 minutes, or until golden around the edges.  (For extra-crunchy bars, turn off the oven and leave them in there for up to 45 minutes longer.)  Remove the bars from the oven, and place them on a rack to cool.

Eat the bars within a few hours, or seal them in a heavy zip-style plastic bag and store in the freezer.  For maximum crispness, "refresh" them in a toaster oven after defrosting.

Replace the canola oil with 1/2 cup peanut butter or almond butter (softened in a microwave).

Replace the flour with quinoa, ground to  a powder in a blender or an electric spice grinder.

Replace the yogurt with mashed silken tofu (soft or firm).  Add an extra pinch of salt.

Add 2 - 3 tablespoons powdered egg whites.

Add up to 1 cup chopped nuts and/or sunflower seeds.

Notes/Results:  I think I'm somewhat obsessive about making homemade granola bars of any kind.  I always feel drawn to these types of recipes because of all the variations.  I made a couple of substitutions with these bars.  I subbed peanut butter for the canola oil, used wheat germ in place of oat bran, subbed milk chocolate chips for semi-sweet, added about 1/2 honey roasted peanuts, and added about 1/4 cup honey.  Also, I baked mine in the pan for the full 30 minutes and then removed them to let them cool on the countertop.  The recipe indicates to bake them for 15 minutes and then cut them into bars, place on a cookie sheet, and bake individually for another 15 minutes.  I felt like doing all that was too much work and also that the bars wouldn't have held together.  I think that baking them 30 minutes in the pan was definitely the way to go and I would do that again.   

I loved the bars and will make them again.  They remind me of  very thick and dense oatmeal cookies, but with peanut butter and nuts.  I found them to be very filling and satisfying.  Next time I'd like to make them with the ground quinoa just to up the protein in the bars. 


  1. Well now Kim I may need to try these bad boys! I could go for one now with my afternoon coffee. Can anyone join in Moosewood Mondays? Is`Natashya hosting ?
    Hope your snow and cold weather is going away...c'mon Spring!

  2. Do you have any idea what the nutritional data for one of these bars would be?

  3. Tina- Yes, Natashya is hosting Moosewood Mondays and anyone is invited, and encouraged, to join along.

    Ally - I'd love to have the nutritional data for these bars, but I'm not sure if there is a tool for that. Do you know of one? I'd venture to say they're fairly high in calories with the peanut butter and all, but still better than some other things I would end up eating if I didn't plan.

  4. I'm not sure if there is or not. WeightWatchers used to have a recipe builder but it'd just calculate points and not calories...

  5. Just like you I love making homemade granola bars. My kids love pretty much any kind I have made and yours look they would be a big hit as well. Great job on going to the gym. Wish I had your motivation, but I'm not quite there yet ;o)

  6. These sound delicious - I too am always drawn to granola bars (find it hard to put the exercise in first though!!!)

  7. great bars and that does sound like a great class

  8. woohoo! Mega congrats on your gym PROWESS. I started doing non-aqua zumba at my gym and I LOVE it. It keeps me motivated. ANd keeps me hoping that someday it will teach me how to dance...

    These proteins bars sound awesome! I should whip them up after my next long run.

  9. These bars sound great Kim! And your class sounds fun - it's nice to have someone to work out with and for motivation!

  10. These sound awesome!! I've been thinking of trying them too-now I'm convinced:)

  11. These sound great!! Perfect for after my yoga workout!! Thank you :)

  12. Good for you for going to the gym. The aqua class sounds like fun. Great protein bars - wonderful!
    Thanks for getting moosey with me. ☺

  13. I think it always helps to have somebody else w/ you to motivate! It's easy to "let yourself down"...but not so much others =) Love these protein bars...and I really think Aqua Zumba would be a blast!

  14. I am so jealous - I just drag myself to the gym and then drag myself throough the workout. Maybe if I had those wonderful protein bars waiting for me I would be more spirtited about it all. Oh! I can! You just gave me the recipe! Thanks!

  15. So funny--I had my Sunlight Cafe book out this weekend--looking for millet recipes ;-) and tagged a bunch of things to make--including these bars. I love homemade granola and bar recipes too. ;-)


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