David experiments with new formulations while working as a chemist, and he experiments with new recipes while at home in his kitchen.
No-Bake Chocolate Protein Bars
Over the past few months, I have become addicted to store-bought protein bars. They are always on display in the cleverest locations in the grocery stores and even at my local pharmacy. Often I get peckish when on the go, yet don’t want to over-indulge, so I often pick up a convenient and low-fat protein bar. Being a creature of habit, I usually choose a chocolate-flavoured protein bar, but sometimes go wild and get a chocolate coconut or a chocolate nut combination. I tried strawberry, toffee and caramel, but chocolate always wins!
There are three things I love about protein bars; the flavour, the texture and obviously the protein concentration. I often find that these bars have a fudge-like and dense consistency due to their high protein content and this I love. Unfortunately, I do not like the price, and I guess this is why I sometimes make my own at home. Since I am a little addicted to cooking, I often have many of the necessary ingredients and equipment at home, which is handy. Although if you are a little shy on supplies, no fear, as protein bars (or protein balls) typically only require a few readily-available ingredients. A typical homemade protein bar recipe would usually contain simple base ingredients such as oats, peanut butter, protein powder, honey or maple syrup. Cocoa powder, nuts, coconut, or other fruit can be included depending on the desired flavour and nutritional characteristics. These ingredients are also typical constituents of protein ball recipes and often it is just the shape that is different. You can choose on the day whether you want a bar or a ball. If you are lacking motivation or maybe feeling lazy, then balls may be the way to go.
Due to their convenience, I prefer no-bake protein bar recipes. These require no oven or cooking time, but some freezing, cooling or resting of the mixture may be required to achieve an ideal hold and consistency. Another positive is that the ingredients, especially the protein, are not subjected to high temperatures, which may be damaging.
My favourite thing about homemade protein bars is that one can easily adjust their protein, fat and carbohydrate concentrations. Adding whey protein powder is recommended to achieve high protein concentrations while keeping the carbohydrate and fat levels down. Without these powders, you may have to add extra peanut butter, cashew or almond butter to pump up the protein concentrations, although these ingredients also add extra fat and carbs. Protein powders also act as binding agents and help to hold the mixture together. Using these powders, you will also achieve a denser and fudge-like consistency, which is always good!
The recipe discussed below will produce eight protein bars, each containing 20 grams of protein. This can be adjusted if less or more protein is required.
|Prep time||Ready in||Yields|
8 (20g Protein each)
- 1 cup (90g) Oats, coarsely processed
- 1 1/2 cups (135g) Protein powder, chocolate, vanilla or unflavoured. I use ON Gold standard WHEY protein powder
- 1/3 cup (23g) Desiccated coconut
- 1/3 cup (47g) Walnut, chopped
- 2 tbsp (15g) Cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup (130g) Peanut butter
- 2 tbsp (45g) Honey
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup (80ml to 120ml) Almond milk
1. Roughly process the oats in a food processor for a few seconds. You don't want whole oats or a fine flour, but a coarse consistency somewhere in between.
2. If you are using whole or halved walnuts, process the walnuts in a food processor for a few seconds. Alternatively, you may roughly chop using a knife.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oats, half of the walnuts, half of the coconut, whey protein powder and coco powder and thoroughly mix. I say add half of the walnuts and coconut, as the rest will be used for the topping.
- Note: the protein supplements I use in this recipe are usually BioTech USA or ON Gold standard WHEY protein. If you don't have chocolate flavour powder then plain or vanilla is fine, just make sure you add enough coco powder.
4. Pour the almond milk (or water, or regular milk) into a food processor, along with the honey and peanut butter (or almond or cashew butter). Process on high speed to incorporate all wet ingredients.
5. Combine the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and fully incorporate using your hands. You may also combine these ingredients in your processor if it is large enough and powerful. My processor couldn't handle all of these ingredients so I used the mixing bowl.
Please note that the mixture will have a very glutinous texture due to all of the protein, this is normal, and don't let this scare you!
6. Transfer the mixture into an 8 x 8- or 9 x 9-inch baking tin lined with greaseproof paper. I can't stress how important it is to line with greaseproof paper as this mixture is very sticky.
7. Wrap some greaseproof paper around your hand and flatten the mixture. As I mentioned, the mixture is quite sticky and it will be literally impossible to flatten it if you do not use the paper.
8. Sprinkle the remaining chopped walnut and coconut over the mixture's surface and press in gently.
9. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes to set. This also makes the mixture much easier to slice.
10. Remove from the freezer and slice the mixture into 8 slices.
11. For best results, eat the protein bars the next day. They literally get a yummy fudge consistency the following day. I typically place them into the refrigerator overnight before eating. Enjoy!
© 2016 David Branagan