I don’t know about you guys but I can’t stand it when I find out things I’ve loved and thought were healthy are actually full of ingredients you can’t pronounce.
There used to be this one brand of protein bar that I loved when I was in my preteen years and I ate them all the time. Seriously, they were so good. I’m talking creamy peanut buttery filling coated in a thick layer of chocolate.
She and I were having a flavor flashback the other day (don’t you love those?) to our fave childhood foods and she said that I had to come up with a copycat version of these bars. I wanted to find out if there were any ingredients that I needed to try recreating them so I looked them up via the oh so helpful internet. Come to find out, the #1 ingredient is high fructose corn syrup and closely following was soy protein isolate (not a fan)! What!!! Yeah, you probably already know this, but that applies to most of your mainstream brands of energy bars that populate the fitness food aisles these days. Those sneaky marketers try to hide the truth behind pretty packaging and words like ‘refuel’ and ‘power’ but for anyone who cares to find out the truth, read the labels.
So by “no powder” I mean no soy protein isolate, and there’s obviously no corn syrup in these either. The protein in these is coming partly from the peanuts of course, but to replace the protein powder that you’ll find called for in almost every recipe like this, I used a mixture of cooked grains and lentils. It’s super easy and it only requires a little time to cook them together, but the combination makes these bars really filling. Not to mention that grains and rice are like way cheaper than buying protein powder (that stuff is such a rip), so plus 1 for your budget!
Before you make these, just keep in mind that when you’re making your protein grain/lentil base it likes to pop when it gets thick so please be careful and don’t let the heat get too high. I may or may not have a burn or 2 to show from take 1 of this recipe. Slow and steady wins this race my speedy little hares. Don’t let that scare you off though, these are so worth the effort.
Also, these are a bit soft at room temp, so I like to store them in the fridge or even the freezer and that also helps them last longer for easy snackage!
Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Protein Bars (Vegan+GF)
For the Protein Mix:
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup uncooked lentils
- 1/4 cup uncooked brown rice
- 1/4 cup old steel-cut rolled will work too
For the Bars:
- 1 cup natural peanut butter
- 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
- 1/2 cup dried figs or dates
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 2/3 cup oat flour
For the Chocolate Coating:
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 cup maple syrup or agave nectar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine lentils, rice, and oats with water in a medium saucepan with lid. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 25-35 minutes, stirring often, until liquid is absorbed and the rice is soft. Add more water during cooking if needed.
Once completely softened, cool for about 15 minutes. Grease a 13x9-inch baking pan with oil and set aside. Pour mixture into a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth.
Add all remaining ingredients for bars except oat flour and blend until well combined. Add flour and pulse a few times until mixed, you should have a thick dough now. Press mixture into prepared pan and place in freezer for at least 1 hour or until frozen solid. Remove pan from freezer and cut into desired size bars.
Combine coconut oil, syrup, and salt in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until melted. Add cocoa and vanilla and stir until smooth and remove from heat.
Dip bars in coating and place on a parchment lined tray about 1 inch apart to dry. Place tray in freezer for about 15 minutes until coating is solid. These bars are very soft at room temperature so they are best stored in the refrigerator and served cold.
Will keep for up to 2 weeks in refrigerator or they can be frozen for longer storage.