Loving the BITE: Protein Bars Exposed

Sure, a “protein bar” can be a good option for recovery after a hard ride, but do they make for good snacks?  As more and more athletes opt for protein bars and energy bars as part of their everyday food choices, it’s important to determine which, if any, works as a healthy snack.  You see, some bars are full of nutritious, whole-food ingredients, while others are little more than an expensive, glorified candy bar on steroids.  This week, we’ll discuss five criteria for judging a protein bar as an everyday snack, apply these criteria to a few popular ones on the market, and even make our own protein brownies (in less than 15 minutes prep time).

Recipe of the Week:  Homemade Brownie Protein Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 can no-salt-added black beans, drained and rinsed thoroughly (or 1 3/4 cup cooked black beans)
  • 4 large cage-free organic eggs
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp organic coconut oil, melted
  • 2 scoops high-quality protein powder to equal 40 grams protein (whey, soy, PB2)
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup organic honey
  • ½ cup 70%+ chocolate chips or chopped chocolate bar

Instruction:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease an 8-inch baking pan with organic coconut oil or spray.  Place all ingredients, except chocolate chips  in the bowl of a food processor and blend well until completely smooth. With a spoon, gently stir in the chocolate chips. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until just set in the center. Cool completely before cutting into bars.  Makes 12 brownie bars.

*To make Dairy-free, omit yogurt & increase organic coconut oil to 4 Tbsp.

Comments:

With such a healthy, easy, chocolatey, and inexpensive brownie bar recipe, you’ll likely never need to buy a protein bar again.  Right.  Even with my best intentions, I find that buying commercial products from time to time a necessity.  At least for back up.  For those days when I ride a little longer, and spend a little less free time in the kitchen.  But don’t get me wrong.  I do my best to steer myself, my kids, and my clients away from “products” for everyday nutrition, and towards whole foods.

Still, I do also live in the real world, and I know that a “bar” sometimes just fits the bill.  It offers “Grab ‘n’ Go” convenience.  It’s quick, easy, and not messy (for breakfasts in the car).  So, how do you pick an acceptable snack protein bar at the store?  Here’s what I look for:

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