The grocery store ran a special deal last week: if we spent more than $250, we got a bonus box of goodies. Hubby and I definitely didn't think our bill would be that high so we ignored the flyer but, lo and behold, at check out we got a prize pack! Yikes, groceries are getting expensive. The bonus box was a nice surprise though, because it had a lot of pantry staples - just not the brand I usually buy. One day I looked at the ingredients on the deeelicious bonus box granola bar I was munching on and I realized it had a crazy amount of sugar! No wonder they were so tasty... Since quitting (but ultimately just cutting back on) sugar I've been reading labels carefully but because the granola bars we got were free, I didn't look. The packaging was all about "nourishing" bodies, but the label revealed the truth: packed with sugar - fake sugar, real sugar, corn syrup, you name it! Sure, there were some healthier ingredients, like nuts, but that wasn't the whole truth. I felt duped. If I'm going to eat a whole whack of sugar, it better be in a chocolate bar or a sundae - not when I think I'm eating something "healthy"!
It's been awhile since I made my sugar-free zucchini brownie or my avocado protein brownie but since I was now craving granola bars thanks to the bonus box, I decided I better bake some of my own homemade bars! I wanted something a little less dessert-like and I'd had a lot of success experimenting with protein bite balls so I decided to try something similar. It's seriously EASY to make homemade protein bars and homemade granola bars - just whirl a bunch of ingredients in a food process until it's a sticky "dough," press into a parchment lined pan and bake. It's a great way to use up dribs and drabs of ingredients in the pantry.
Here's my latest batch of homemade chocolate protein bars:
I photographed these chocolate protein bars right out of the oven - they were still steaming and warm - so they're especially moist. I store them in the fridge and they do harden up a bit, but remain very chewy.
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 2 cups oats
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 1 cup unsalted mixed nuts (or any nuts you prefer)
- 1/4 cup flax-seed
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup chocolate protein powder (look for one with no added sugar)
- 2 bananas, sliced
- 5 tbsp unsweetened, unsalted almond butter
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 4 tbsp brown rice syrup
- Splash of almond milk (if necessary)
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 3 tbsp stevia
- 3 tbsp shredded coconut
- 2 tbsp stevia-sweetened chocolate chips
- 2 tbsp unsalted sunflower seeds
- 2 tbsp unsalted pumpkin seeds
- 2 tbsp dried cranberries (look for no added sugar)
How to Make Your Own Chocolate Protein Bars:
The steps for making your own protein bars or granola bars are so simple!
Grab your food process and shred the carrots first. Then add the mixed nuts, nut butter, shredded coconut, coconut oil, bananas, brown rice syrup, flaxseed, protein powder, cocoa powder and oats. Mix until it's all really finely chopped and blended completely, but not quite a paste - you want some texture to remain, not smooth like baby food! It should only take a few minutes of pulsing. If the mixture becomes too thick or your food processor struggles, add a splash of almond milk.
Press the mixture into a parchment lined pan (I used 8 x 8 for a thicker bar) and bake at 350 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes. Before the bars are done, melt the coconut oil and stevia in a pan on medium heat. When the bars have been in the oven for 15 minutes, take them out and pour on the oil. Cover with toppings: shredded coconut, stevia-sweetened chocolate chips, nuts and seeds or dried fruit (but watch for extra sugar in dried cranberries). Pop back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes.
You can skip the topping completely, or just boycott the stevia if you prefer but I find that the tiny bit of stevia in the coconut oil and the chocolate chips adds a hint of sweetness I crave. The brown rice syrup in the bars (also optional) is not very sweet so, overall, these bars are not sugary in the least. The beauty of this recipe is that you can adjust to your own taste preferences - and easily make these 100% sugar-free (brown rice syrup is approved by the I Quit Sugar program I followed).
Remove and let cool an hour before cutting up. Store in the refrigerator in a covered container.
Each time I make these protein bars I alter the ingredients a little but they always turn out so delicious - and filling!