Protein Bars

To quickly sum up the last (almost) two months since my last post, pregnancy is over, my sweet baby is here, and we are slowly starting to arrive at our new normal.  This means I can actually start thinking about working out, eating right, and blogging.  I think full sanity won’t return until the little one is sleeping through the night (or maybe fully grown and independently living), but for now I am taking what I can get!

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One thing that is essential for healthy eating as a new mother of three is convenience…what can I quickly grab to satisfy hunger that isn’t processed.  Good thing it is summer and we have been pounding the fresh berries from Spooner’s while we can get them with some plain Greek yogurt.  We also love hard-boiled eggs and have started buying that monster 5 dozen pack from Costco…are we a little too crazy for eggs?

And those who have looked at my pinterest know that I am always on the lookout for good protein bar recipe.  I came across one that we REALLY like.  Everyone that I make it for asks me for the recipe, so I thought I would share it.  Because I have a sleeping babe on my chest right now, I will not type it all up, but you can find it here.
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I like it because it uses all whole food ingredients, healthy fats, and is deliciously satisfying.  I thought they were a little too greasy and not enough protein with the recipe as it was written, so I added two scoops of protein powder and then it seemed just right…until I calculated the nutrition info:

Calories 370 / Carb 21 / Fat 29 / Protein 10 / Sugar 13

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Some people don’t mind those numbers, but if that is a little too many calories or fat for one snack for, I substituted skim milk for the coconut oil and added another scoop of protein for the shredded coconut, which made the dough super sticky so I decided to add the chips to the middle instead of the top and bake them.  They turned out really tasty too, but more like a healthy cookie than a bar.  These are the new numbers:

Calories 281/ Carb 21 / Fat 18 / Protein 13 / Sugar 12

If you want even lower fat and higher protein, feel free to substitute more protein powder for some of the nuts, flaxseed.  If you are confused by all those changes, here is how the second version ended up as I made it:

2 cups almonds
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup dried dates
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup milk
1/4 cup honey
2-3 teaspoons vanilla extract
a few squares dark chocolate, chopped into chunks

Preheat oven to 350. Place almonds, flax meal, dried fruit and peanut butter in a food processor or high powered blender. Pulse briefly for about 30 seconds.  You may choose to pulse longer if you want the bars less chunky.  Add wet ingredients and pulse until you have a coarse paste. Press mixture into a sprayed  9 x 9 baking dish, adding the chocolate chunks as you do so. Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Let cool and cut into 12 bars.

Let me know which version you like better!

Do you have a favorite protein bar recipe?  Please share!

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The Making of an Addiction

I have tried a few times in my life to count calories, while seeking skinniness.  But in the end I usually give up on that, because calories are NOT the only things that matter when seeking to truly improve our health.  Take nuts for example…just because they are high in calories and fat doesn’t mean we shouldn’t eat them!

These yummy almonds have been shown to lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar & blood pressure, fight cancer, reduce risk of heart disease and birth defects, boost energy, and improve brain power.  So why not buy a big bag at Costco, roast em up, give em a whirl and make them into almond butter?  That’s what I do every week.

Making almond butter is actually SUPER easy if you have a food processor or a Vitamix and it tastes a million times better than the Maranatha brand that they also sell at Costco.  I’m not saying this to toot my own horn because really, it’s  all the machines that do the work.

Just take 2 cups of almonds and roast them at 350 for 10 minutes.  Let them cool for a bit, dump them in your food processor for about 10 minutes, and voila!  It will take those almonds from whole to crumbs ready for deliciously unhealthy English toffee, to almond flour ready for gluten free baking, to a huge ball of almond paste bouncing around noisily inside…then finally butter.

Deliciously creamy, fresh, and ready to slather on toast, sandwiches, carrots, celery, apples, basically anywhere you would put peanut butter and wherever else you can imagine.

Or better still, you can use in these “healthy” gluten-free, dairy-free cookies.  Again, certainly not low calorie, but a whole food approach to dessert with no refined flour or sugar.  Like the protein pancakes you will look at the recipe and wonder how it’s possible to be good; you will even shape the dough into cookies and wonder how it will work, but let me tell you it DOES!!

Let me know how it goes if you try it out!