Protein bars are all the rage and it’s no wonder, they pack some serious nutrition in the size of a candy bar! The market is so huge, between parents on the go and the casual exercise fanatic, that a trip into the grocery store can lead you wondering just how healthy a protein bar really is.
The Nutrition Behind a Protein Bar
Proteins bars are full of protein from milk, soy, and/or eggs. You will also find that protein bars are full of fiber, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. They offer benefits to a wide variety of people.
People looking to change eating habits for health purposes, or to lose weight, can include protein bars for snacking so that they can avoid the unhealthy options they are used to. The protein in the bar will fill them up and keep them feeling satiated for longer. The fiber allows their systems to adjust to the new diet change that could result in short term digestion issues. The carbohydrates can recharge them if they are feeling sluggish. The fats, vitamins, and minerals can keep their health in balance.
For the athlete or the regular gym attendee, the protein bar easily offers a fast recharge and satiation from feeling hunger and depleted after a grueling workout or sports match. For those engaged in weight training, protein bars support the continuing muscle building that happens during the time when we aren’t working out.
Why should we eat protein bars?
There are plenty of pros when it comes to eating protein bars for weight loss, health improvement, and athletic support. They are:
- help build and maintain muscle mass for weight loss
- improve red blood cell function to improve wounds or muscle tears
- provide extra boosts of energy
As far as cons go, the major issue is relying on a protein bar for your nutritional needs. Although protein bars provide plenty for positive health, we cannot rely on protein bars alone. Eating well balanced healthy meals and using protein bars occasionally will help your health in generous ways.
Save Money, Make Your Own!
Protein bars can be pricey, it’s absolutely best to make them at home and save yourself some money. One of the best reasons to making your own is you can personalize your bar to fit your tastes and goals. Here are some basic no-bake recipes that you can practice with. Don’t be shy about changing it up!
2 cups raw almonds
20 medjool dates, pitted
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (we used dark cocoa powder)
1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- Place almonds into a food processor and process on high until you’ve created a fine almond meal.
- Next, pit 20 medjool dates. Then, add those into the food processor along with the cocoa powder, peanut butter, maple syrup, and sea salt. Process on high until everything is pulverized. You may need to add a few teaspoons of water to the mixture depending on how sticky your dates are.
- Scoop a heaping tablespoon of dough into your hands and roll into a ball. Repeat.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
1 cup quick oats, divided
3 scoops flavoured protein powder of choice (30 gram scoops)*
1/2-1 cup dairy free milk of choice**
Sweetener of choice***
Optional- Add ins of choice (I used dairy free chocolate chips and vegan white chocolate chips)
- Line a deep baking dish with baking paper and set aside.
- Divide half the quick oats and blend them to a flour.
- Combine the oats and protein powder in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add the milk of choice until a very thick batter is formed. Stir through your add ins of choice and transfer to baking dish and press firmly. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm. Cut into bars and enjoy!
1⁄2 cup skim milk
1 cup natural-style peanut butter or 1 cup low-fat peanut butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 1⁄4 -1 1⁄2 cups of whey protein powder (I use vanilla, but I’m sure chocolate would work too)
2 cups dry uncooked oatmeal (not quick cooking kind)
- Combine peanut butter, honey and milk in a pot.
- Warm over low heat. Add the protein powder and mix well.
- Add the oats. You don’t want to cook it, just warm it through so you can stir it. Add more milk if it is too thick to stir.
- Press in a 9″ x 13″ pan. Let the bars sit until cool, and cut into 16 equal sized bars.
- Wrap each bar in foil or Saran wrap and store in plastic baggies. They do not need refrigeration.
1 cup protein powder, your favorite flavor
1 cup flour (your choice of coconut, almond, oat, or quinoa)
1/4 cup milk (cow, coconut, or almond)
16 oz of dark chocolate (the darker the better), melted
- Mix your protein and flour together.
- Bind together with milk to create a dough. If too hard, add small amounts of milk. If too wet, add a bit more protein and flour.
- Shape the dough into bars and place on parchment or wax paper.
- Pour the melted chocolate over the bars.
- Freeze the bars for 30 minutes.
4 ounces soy protein powder, approximately 1 cup
2 1/4 ounces oat bran, approximately 1/2 cup
2 3/4 ounces whole-wheat flour, approximately 1/2 cup
3/4-ounce wheat germ, approximately 1/4 cup
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 ounces raisins, approximately 1/2 cup
2 1/2 ounces dried cherries, approximately 1/2 cup
3 ounces dried blueberries, approximately 1/2 cup
2 1/2 ounces dried apricots, approximately 1/2 cup
1 (12.3-ounce) package soft silken tofu
1/2 cup unfiltered apple juice
4 ounces dark brown 2 large whole eggs, beaten
2/3 cup natural peanut butter
Canola oil, for pan,
- Line the bottom of a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish with parchment paper and lightly coat with canola oil. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the protein powder, oat bran, wheat flour, wheat germ, and salt. Set aside.
- Coarsely chop the raisins, dried cherries, blueberries and apricots and place in a small bowl and set aside.
- In a third mixing bowl, whisk the tofu until smooth. Add the apple juice, brown sugar, eggs, and peanut butter, 1 at a time, and whisk to combine after each addition.
- Add this to the protein powder mixture and stir well to combine.
- Fold in the dried fruit. Spread evenly in the prepared baking dish and bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 205 degrees F.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely before cutting into squares.
- Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week. approximately 1/2 cup packed
2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1 cup mashed banana
2/3 cup vanilla protein powder
1/2 cup peanut butter, slightly melted
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped raw almonds
1/4 cup brewed sweet and spicy black tea
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut, or to taste (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8-inch square pan.
- Mix oats, banana, protein powder, peanut butter, cranberries, 1/2 cup coconut, almonds, tea, chia seeds, cinnamon, and vanilla together in a large mixing bowl; spread into prepared pan. Top with 1/4 cup coconut.
- Bake bars until lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool until they set completely, at least 15 minutes.
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup protein powder
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
2 very ripe bananas
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment.
- Spread oats out onto an unlined baking sheet in a thin layer, and toast until lightly browned, about 10 minutes; remove and allow to cool.
- Mix together the cooled oats, protein powder, whole wheat flour, and flax seed until thoroughly combined, and mix with peanut butter and honey.
- Mash the bananas into the mixture, and stir to combine.
- Press the dough down onto the parchment-lined baking sheet in a 1/2-inch layer.
- Bake in the preheated oven until the edges of the dough are golden brown, about 15 minutes; cut into bars while warm, and allow the bars to cool.
- Wrap bars in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use.
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup rolled oats
7 cups crisp rice cereal
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups crunchy peanut butter
1 cup powdered milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- Combine the sesame seeds and sunflower seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat.
- Cook, stirring until fragrant and toasted. Salt lightly, and set aside to cool.
- Combine the dates, raisins, apricots, cherries, chocolate chips and the toasted seeds in the container of a food processor.
- Pulse to chop until small but not pasty. Transfer to a large bowl, and mix with oats and crisp rice cereal.
- In a small glass bowl, mix together the corn syrup, sugar and peanut butter.
- Heat in the microwave until bubbly.
- Stir in the powdered milk, vanilla, and almond extract.
- Pour the peanut butter mixture over the bowl of cereal and goodies, and mix with a wooden spoon until everything is evenly coated.
- Press the mixture into a greased 10×15 inch jellyroll pan using wet hands.
- Cut into squares, and allow to cool completely before removing from the pan.
1 1⁄2 cups vanilla protein powder (whey)
1 cup whole oats
4 tablespoons honey
1⁄4 cup ground flax seeds (optional)
1 cup blueberries (thawed)
2 tablespoons sugar substitute
2⁄3 cup skim milk
2 teaspoons olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Chop oats in food processor or blender. In large bowl, add all ingredients, except oil; mix well.
- Use oil to grease a 9×9-inch baking dish and line the bottom with foil (to prevent sticking).
- Pour mixture into pan and bake for 25 minutes.
- Let cool completely before cutting into 6 bars.
1 cup oat flour
2 scoops vanilla whey protein
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄8 teaspoon allspice
1⁄8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg white
1⁄2 cup stevia, in the raw
8 ounces pureed carrots
2 ounces water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix flour, whey protein, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl.
- Mix egg whites, stevia, carrots, and water (optional) in a bowl.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix together.
- Spray 8×8 glass pyrex dish with non-stick butter spray.
- Pour ingredients into dish.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes.
- Let cool and cut into 8 bars.
1 cup rolled oats, Ground
3 egg whites
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons almond butter
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 cup pumpkin seeds, ground
1⁄4 cup sesame seeds, ground
1⁄4 cup sunflower seeds, ground
1⁄3 cup soy milk, unsweetened
1⁄2 cup spelt flour
1 cup protein powder, vanilla
1⁄2 teaspoon butter
- Mash banana. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
- Coat a 9×9 pan with butter and pour mixture in pan.
- Bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes.
- Cut into 10 bars.
2 tablespoons coconut cream
1 cup pure pumpkin puree
1⁄4 cup jaggery or 1⁄4 cup coconut sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1⁄4 cup skim milk powder
1⁄4 cup vanilla whey protein powder
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup sorghum flour
1⁄4 cup quinoa flour
1⁄2 cup amaranth flour
1⁄3 cup rice bran
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
3 tablespoons psyllium, husk fibre
1 teaspoon xanthan gum or 1 teaspoon guar gum
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons teff
1 large finely grated carrot
1⁄2 cup raisins, soaked in hot water and drained (reserve 1/4 cup liquid)
2 cups fruit and nut granola cereal
- Line a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with parchment and set aside.
- Using an electric mixer, beat eggs, coconut cream, pumpkin, jaggery, honey, milk and whey powders, salt and cinnamon until well combined.
- Add flours, bran, flaxseed, psyllium, xanthan gum and baking powder, mixing until combined.
- Fold in kaniwa, carrot, raisins (with liquid) and granola.
- Spread into the pan and allow to stand for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes.
- Let cool in pan before cutting into bars.
We hope by offering you these simple, easy to make protein bars you can add them to your diet. If you choose to buy your protein bars – we know how convenience sometimes win – please read the labels. Anything with processed sugars or flours should be avoided as they are not as healthy as you may think. Enjoy your new snack love!