Protein bars can be chalky, overly sweet, expensive, have a lot of palm oil in them, and can be just plain fake-tasting. I don’t buy them often because I don’t buy into the whole “you need more protein” messaging. However, there are some that are genuinly delicious, and I like them as a treat because they’re so tasty. Lara Bars are honestly my favorite packaged treat, but as far as protein bars, I think Go Macro bars, ONE bars, and Clif bars are pretty good.
About the protein powder…
Naked Nutrition recently sent me some of their products for free, so I now have protein powder in my house (I never buy it–I get plenty of protein from whole, plant foods and try to avoid processed foods like protein powders). I created these bars to use some of it. I am impressed that their Naked Pea protein is made of ONLY yellow pea protein. That’s it! Not a single gram of sugar or sodium or anything. They also have seed protein, brown rice protein, and lots of other vegan protein products. There are similar brands on Amazon for pure pea protein powder, if you want to try out a smaller quantity (like this bag from Anthony’s).
I once tried to make my own pea protein powder by blending up dry green split peas. Yuck. So nasty. It sat in my pantry for months before I admitted I was never going to use it. However protein powder makers have discovered how to extract the protein only from peas–I’m happy they discovered it! It’s an improvement from powderized split peas.
I’ve made another version of these without oats that are higher protein, but I like the texture of these best with only 1/4 cup protein powder and some oat flour to give it a delicious texture that doesn’t taste chalky or have a weird texture. The crisp cereal also really improves the texture of these bars. They taste like a cookie bar or granola bar. They will be snarfed up, so good luck keeping some on hand for when you need a convenient snack!
If you don’t want to use protein powder, just use a little more oat flour. They will still have a decent amount of protein from the peanut butter, oats, and hemp seeds.
But seriously….where do you get your protein?
It’s a cliche question, but perhaps you’d like to hear my answer. The truth is that while protein is important, most people actually don’t need as much as they think. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day for adults. This means that for a person who weighs 70 kilograms (154 pounds), the RDA for protein would be around 56 grams per day. A 105 lb person only needs 38 grams a day. A 30-lb child only needs 15 grams a day (a 1/2 cup of soy milk and 1/2 cup oats in the morning and they’re already half way there). They say that protein is like oxygen, as long as you’re breathing enough you don’t have to worry about getting enough oxygen. If you’re eating enough calories, you don’t have to worry about protein. It’s in most foods, especially whole foods.
Teen athletes, pregnant women, body builders, and the elderly have increased protein needs, so I can see how a protein powder (and these bars!) can come in handy for those groups, but it still is not necessary if eating enough calories from a whole food plant based diet.
If you make these bars, please share and tag me!
Like a Perfect Bar or Go Macro bar, but homemade and even healthier (not to mention cheaper!).
- 1 cup rolled oats, blended until fine
- 1/4 cup vanilla or plain protein powder (or extra oat flour)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup hemp seeds ( or chia or ground flax seeds)
- 1 cup crisp cereal, like puffed brown rice, Chex, or Rice Crispies
- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, chopped chocolate, coconut, or chopped nuts
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter or almond butter
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Stir oat flour, protein powder, salt, cereal, hemp seeds and any mix-ins like chocolate chips together.
Pour in the peanut butter, maple syrup, and vanilla and stir together. I eventually use my hands to really work it in until well combined. You may need to add a tablespoon of water if it is too dry (this will depend on how runny the peanut butter was).
Press into an 8-inch square pan, or roll into 16 small balls.
Let pan chill for 1 hour before cutting into 8 bars. Wrap individually or keep covered in the fridge until ready to eat.
Each bar contains 3 g fiber and 10 g protein if using protein powder.