I'm always on the lookout for healthy snacks for my family, especially easy recipes since I am pretty busy. We love my recipes for healthy chocolate truffles, no-bake cookies, and kale chips, but this recipe for homemade protein bars is one of our all time favorites.
It's a great grab and go snack and is full of yumminess that you and your family will love.
If you've been buying protein bars in the store, here is your chance to make them at home for much less money and likely with much healthier ingredients.
I like to make these bars in bulk (I make just about EVERYTHING in bulk) and then place in the fridge or freezer for a fast healthy snack for the family. Sadly, however, the freezer party typically doesn't happen. Most of my recipes make it to the fridge and that's it. They get eaten faster than I can get them there….but I'm working on it!
I know that a lot of people still purchase ready-made protein bars in the stores for convenience purposes, but it really is great if you can carve out a little bit of time and make a big batch of something like this and have it on hand.
You'll save a ton of money, have total control over the ingredients and well, they taste great too.
Try it and once you find a mix of ingredients you like, make a bunch of batches, freeze them, then grab them and go when you are on the run.
This protein bar recipe is a lot healthier for you and for your wallet, plus who doesn't love some chocolate now and then, especially when it's this healthy?
How are they healthier?:
- Seeds and nuts give a great dose of healthy fats that are good for you and great for leveling out your blood sugar levels.
- The optional protein powder provides a nice dose of protein. (Yes, I know this is not a “real food”, but for those of us dealing with food allergies, sometimes this is the best we can do)
- Coconut oil is a great healthy fat as well
- No preservatives
- No questionable “natural flavors”
- No highly processed protein powders (depending on what you choose if adding a protein powder.)
- No extruder-processed puffed grains and such that have been cited for questionable effect on health
- Low Carb for those who need it
- Allergy-free – You can make these bars however you need to in order to avoid allergens or sensitivities
Carbs and Store Bought Protein Bars
I learned the hard way how the store-bought bars can be a real problem.
Recently, I bought a bunch of “healthy” bars on clearance for my kids. I thought I was doing a good thing for my family as they were heavily discounted, and some of them had more protein that most other bars in the store.
However, the addiction factor kicked in pretty quickly.
See, we don't have many processed foods in our home. I don't typically realize how “odd” this is, but when visitors look in our cabinets and fridge, they comment something like “Wow, you guys really do eat healthy!”
And the carbs have had a bad effect on one of the members of our family, who shall remain nameless.
My experience is that we are passing down weakened guts and immune systems to subsequent generations, and as such, more and more people can't handle carbs. Well, these bars have more carbs (in the form of nice sounding “organic cane syrup”, etc.) than I would typically let my kids eat, and thought I figured that the protein and fats would balance it out, the fact is that they don't. My kids do better on my homemade stuff and there is just not much of a way around it. So even though I thought I was giving them something “healthy”, I learned my lesson. Organic cane syrup is sugar. And we don't do well on it.
With these bars, you can control your carbs, which can be a very important thing.
Back to the Protein Bars…..
These originated as a recipe for Almond Power Bars on Elana's Pantry. I tweaked the recipe a bit, made it more suited to variation, and gave nutrient boosting and sugar-free alternatives.
The only problem with these bars is that they don't travel well in warm weather. So take a cooler bag along with you if you plan to eat them on the road when it's not that cool.
One warm weather tip – making the bars and the topping with cocoa butter instead of coconut oil will make them more stable.
By the way, any of the following links may be affiliate links. If you click on them and make a purchase, I might make a commission. Your support is much appreciated and helps keep this free resource up and running.
- 2 cups nuts or seeds (almonds, sunflower, pumpkin, or macadamia. Mixing several kinds is fine too. Soak and dry these if at all possible. Sub 1⅓ cups coconut butter for nut free.)
- ½ cup flax meal (flax seeds ground in a blender or spice grinder) (alternatively, use rice bran or protein powder)
- ½ cup shredded coconut (unsweetened and organic if possible)
- ½ cup seed or nut butter (again, made from soaked and dried nuts is preferable. Use coconut butter for nut free.)
- ⅜ teaspoon salt (I use Real Salt)
- ½ cup coconut oil (or alternative solid fat. Use cocoa butter or butter for a more warm weather-stable bar)
- 2 Tbsp liquid sweetener - use 1/32 tsp of stevia extract (read my post on stevia here.)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Top with either my Homemade Chocolate / Carob Bar or melted Homemade Chocolate / Carob Chips (1 cup of chips per bar recipe)
- Place nuts or seeds, flax meal, coconut, seed or nut butter and salt in the bowl of a food processor.
- Process until the nuts or seeds are ground into a coarse meal
- Melt coconut oil over low heat. If the temperature of your home is around 76 degrees, you can skip this step and add the oil directly to the food processor as it will be soft enough to process easily.
- Add coconut oil, sweeteners and vanilla to processor bowl and process until well combined to form a thick, yet crunchy paste.
- Press the mixture into an 8x8 square pan (you can be quite flexible here. A 9x9 will work just fine. A larger pan will produce thin bars, while a smaller pan will yield thicker ones.)
- Place in refrigerator to chill.
- While bars are chilling, prepare Homemade Chocolate / Carob Bar, but don't harden it.
- Top bars with the Homemade Bar. Alternatively, use your own or my Homemade Chocolate / Carob Chips before melting, or melt and top with those.
- Place back in refrigerator to chill (if you can wait that long :-)!)
- Cut into squares and serve.
- Store in refrigerator.
- *I also have used xylitol and erythritol. Here's where to buy xylitol and erythritol.
Substitute up to the total amount of the flax meal with the same amount of rice protein for an extra punch of protein. Nutribiotic makes a great brand from non-GMO brown rice. You could also use some of this great grass-fed gelatin to firm up the bars and give more protein.
Hope you enjoy the taste and the healthy boost to your wallet!
Other Processed Food Replacements for your kitchen:
Do you have a processed food that you would like me to remake into a “homemade” version?
Photo Credits: Naomi Huzovicova