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Homemade Protein Bars

Homemade Protein Bars

These homemade protein bars are no bake, endlessly customizable energy bars. Just like Luna and Power bars, and made with your favorite protein powder.

These homemade protein bars are no bake, endlessly customizable energy bars. Just like Luna and Power bars, and made with your favorite protein powder.

This protein bar recipe started out as something I was just making for my family, and that was that. After much hesitation, I had finally purchased some Vega Essentials protein powder (I mean, they even sell it at CVS now! I could use a coupon!) and was just freeform experimenting. The kind of experimenting I rarely get to do any more, where I just throw a bit of this and a bit of that into a recipe. Very few notes, even fewer apologies.

And my kids couldn’t get enough of them. The bars had even gotten good enough that my husband mentioned them out of the blue one day. “You know, those protein bars were really good.” That’s high praise for him. My kids had started asking, “Are those bars hard to make?” That’s code for “please make them again.”

These homemade protein bars are no bake, endlessly customizable energy bars. Just like Luna and Power bars, and made with your favorite protein powder.

I started out making them with super soft, packed-with-fiber, deliciously sticky medjool dates. I buy them by the pound at Trader Joe’s, and they’re essential for recipes like my healthy Paleo fudge. They hold everything together so beautifully, and add just the right amount of sweetness.

These homemade protein bars are no bake, endlessly customizable energy bars. Just like Luna and Power bars, and made with your favorite protein powder.

And then I realized how frustrated I have always been with the recipes out there on the Internet for homemade protein bars of all sorts: they’re so specific. They either rely upon one specific type of protein powder, they call for a million different funky ingredients I’ve never heard of, or they are one flavor and one flavor only.

I realize that you may not know where to buy medjool dates. Or you may think they’re too sweet. Or … you may think that a protein bar must be made with nut butter to hold it together. I’m here for you, my friends.

These homemade protein bars are no bake, endlessly customizable energy bars. Just like Luna and Power bars, and made with your favorite protein powder.

I have included two basic recipe formulas for homemade protein bars below. One is made with dates to hold the bars together, and sweeten them, of course. You can include unsweetened melted chocolate in the mixture, or not. It really helps the bars hold their shape and gives them a richer flavor. If you prefer a more neutral-tasting bar, use a vanilla or unflavored protein powder, and leave out the melted chocolate.

The other recipe formula is made with nut butter, and no dates. I like it best made with cocoa powder and melted chocolate, but I include plenty of options for making it more neutral-tasting (including making it with cashew butter). I’ve tried these bars with every single variation I recommend. They all work.

These homemade protein bars are no bake, endlessly customizable energy bars. Just like Luna and Power bars, and made with your favorite protein powder.

My favorite way of making these bars, the way that I will make them going forward, is the “date version,” including the melted unsweetened chocolate—and without the chocolate coating. Leaving off the chocolate coating makes the bars easier to handle and transport. Including the melted chocolate in the bar itself makes the bar richer in taste, and more firm for easy handling.

You can use any flavor protein powder you like in the date version and leave out the melted chocolate, and you’ll change the flavor profile any way you like. If you have another favorite protein powder, use that! If you prefer a dairy protein powder, try whey protein. Oh, and I promise I’m working on a grain-free version, too. For now, yes, you do need to include the oats. There’s no substitute!

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Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 10 to 12 bars

Ingredients

For the date version
2 1/2 cups (250 g) old-fashioned certified gluten free rolled oats (if gluten free isn’t necessary, use any oats)

1 scoop (36 g) gluten free protein powder (I like Vega essentials chocolate flavor protein powder, but you can use whey protein, or your favorite protein powder (vanilla or chocolate))

10 pitted soft medjool dates (150 g, as pitted)

1/4 cup (84 g) pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) milk (any kind), plus more as necessary

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped and melted (optional)

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped and melted (optional, for coating)

For the nut butter version
2 1/2 cups (250 g) old-fashioned certified gluten free rolled oats (if gluten free isn’t necessary, use any oats)

1 1/2 scoops (54 g) gluten free protein powder (I like Vega essentials chocolate flavor protein powder, but you can use whey protein, or your favorite protein powder (vanilla or chocolate))

1/2 cup (40 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-processed) (can replace with more protein powder)

3/4 cup (192 g) smooth natural nut butter (I have used peanut butter, almond butter and cashew butter—all work well)

1/4 cup (84 g) pure maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) milk (any kind), plus more as necessary

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped and melted (can replace with 2 tablespoons more nut butter + 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup)

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped and melted (optional, for coating)

Directions

  • Line an 8-inch square baking pan or standard 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.

  • To make the date version, place the oats in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until ground into a flour. Add the protein powder, dates, maple syrup, vanilla, salt, 1/4 cup milk and (optional) melted unsweetened chocolate. Process until the mixture is well-combined and is tacky (but not sticky) to the touch. Add more milk by the teaspoonful and process, only as necessary for the mixture to reach the proper consistency. If you opt not to use the melted unsweetened chocolate, you will have to add more milk, and the bars will not hold together as firmly when shaped.

  • Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press firmly into an even layer, smoothing the top as much as possible. Cover with parchment and place in the refrigerator or freezer to chill until firm (about 1 hour in the refrigerator, or 20 minutes in the freezer). Remove the bars from the pan and slice into 10 or 12 equal-sized rectangular bars. Dip in the optional melted bittersweet chocolate to coat and allow to sit at room temperature until set. Store the bars in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

  • To make the nut butter version, place the oats in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until ground into a flour. Add the protein powder, cocoa powder (or more protein powder), nut butter, maple syrup, salt, 1/4 cup milk and melted unsweetened chocolate (or more nut butter and maple syrup). Process until the mixture is well-combined and is tacky (but not sticky) to the touch. Add more milk by the teaspoonful and process, only as necessary for the mixture to reach the proper consistency.

  • Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press firmly into an even layer, smoothing the top as much as possible. Cover with parchment and place in the refrigerator or freezer to chill until firm (about 1 hour in the refrigerator, or 20 minutes in the freezer). Remove the bars from the pan and slice into 10 or 12 equal-sized rectangular bars. Dip in the optional melted bittersweet chocolate to coat and allow to sit at room temperature until set. Store the bars in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Love,
Nicole

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  • Mare Masterson

    Looking forward to the grain free versions!

  • K Yankovich

    Are any major brands of oats (in normal grocery stores) gluten-free?

    • Faith

      I find Bob’s Red Mill certified gluten free oats in most major grocery stores now. The come in both quick oats or rolled oats. Depending on the store, it may be in a separate gluten free section or with the organic section. The other brands you usually see, like Quaker, etc. are not g.f.

      • Laurie

        BTW, Quaker recently released GF oats and I’ve found them in my local grocery stores in Southern California. Trader Joe’s GF oats is still the one I purchase the most.

  • I would love to see grain free. I wonder if buckwheat would work as well as oats. I am allergic to all grass grains…which includes oats. Usually, that means GF will work for me. But even GF oats is a no go.

  • Laura E

    I, too, would like to see a version without oats – they do not sit well with me at all.

  • Jennie

    Yes, me too. I don’t think we have gluten-free oats available in Australia.

    • josie

      yes we do hard to find but specialty health food stores do sell them

      • Josie

        if your from Sydney MR VITEMINS @ chatswood

    • Victoria Donaldson

      They can be found in some chemist warehouses or on chemist warehouse online. A little ex’y but worth it if you want to try stuff like this.

  • Kathi Robards

    Are the Trader Joe’s Medjool Dates really gluten free? I haven’t been able to confirm that.

    • Since they’re a single ingredient, Kathi, and there is no allergen warning on the label, I use them. If you’re at all concerned, definitely submit a question through their website. I’ve done that before and they always provide good information in response.

  • loussin

    Just made the nut protein bar, its delicious. is there any was we can have the nutrition value ?

    • I’m afraid I don’t provide nutrition information loussin, but feel free to use one of the online calculators. That’s all I’d do!

  • Jennifer S.

    Oh boy – can’t wait to make these babies!!

  • Deb

    Sounds wonderful! Have you tried to add cranberries or coconut flakes?

    • I haven’t, Deb. You might be able to add some coconut flakes in place of some of the oats, and some dried cranberries in place of some of the dates. Since these aren’t baked, it’s all about the consistency so it holds together properly.

  • Julie Cataline

    Can I use deglet dates in place of the medjool?

    • Hi, Julie,
      Definitely. They’re slightly less sweet and a little less sticky, so just watch for the proper consistency as described in the recipe. :)

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