FEATURED ON OLD SCHOOL Given my busy training schedule I often find myself with clients (or driving like a maniac) during meal time. Although I really try hard to avoid processed food, my number one slip-up is protein bars.  I've searched high and low for a bar that has it all: made from real foods, low in sugar, high in nutrients, offers anabolic support (for muscle repair and regrowth), and gives me plenty of energy to hit those hills (again!). While I've come close to finding it, there is always something standing in the way of the perfect bar - usually sugar or processed soy. So I decided to hit the kitchen and see what I could come up with.  The final product was so delicious that it's now a regular on my weekly menu.  The bar (and how I eat it) continues to take many forms.  Try it warmed up and served with almond milk, or for a pre or post workout treat.

Note: Once you get used to the concept of making a protein bar, you can easily modify to accommodate your pantry supplies, creativity and specific energy needs. Some of my other favorite combinations have been:

Dried pineapple and crispy quinoa

Cacao and goji berries (best served raw)

Pecans and cranberries

Nut and seeds galore! (pumpkin, flax, sesame, sunflower, pecans, almonds, walnuts, etc.)

HOMEMADE POWER BARS

Tools:

  • Food processor
  • Baking dish
  • Parchment paper

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups whole rolled oats
  • ½ cup good quality protein powder (rice, pea, or hemp is the most easily digestible.)
  • ¾ cups chopped walnuts (or almonds, or pecans)
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 Tbs. poppy seeds
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds (brown or white)
  • 2 Tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 4 Tbs flax or chia seeds (best with a combination of the two!)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • ½ cup coconut oil (olive oil or safflower oil can be substituted)
  • 5 Medjool dates
  • 5 Dried apricots
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbs. pure maple syrup (or honey)
  • Zest and juice of 1 organic lemon
  • Zest and juice of 1 organic lemon

Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 325.

Begin by placing the flax and/or chia seeds in a small bowl with 4 Tbs. water. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine all your dry ingredients: oats, walnuts, poppy and sesame seeds, cinnamon and sea salt.

In a food processor, blend all the wet ingredients: banana, coconut oil, vanilla, maple syrup, dates, apricots, lemon juice and zest.

By this time, the flax/ chia/ water will have become gelatinous.  This will be used to bind the bars.  Add them to the food processor at the last minute and pulse to combine.

Now add your wet ingredients to the dry. Using a big spoon, mix well.

Place parchment paper along the bottom of a baking pan.  Add the ingredients, evenly distribute and press down your bars.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.

Let the bars cool then slice them into squares about the size of a deck of cards.

Enjoy them easily for a quick breakfast on their own, warmed and served with almond milk over the top, or as a healthy pre-workout snack. They will store in the fridge up to 2 weeks.

The Skinny: Why go to the trouble of making your own protein bars? Because anything you make in your own kitchen, will give you control over important things like oil, fat and sugar content.  Many of the bars on the market these days contain high sugar (immunosuppressant & blood sugar destabilizing), processed soy (harmful to the thyroid), whey protein (hard for most to digest), and preservatives. Plus, these bars are a great breakfast-to-go , which will help steer you clear of sweet rolls and sugary cereals.