Paleo Protein Bars
Word on the street is that people should have protein within the 30 minutes straight after a weights workout. It helps with muscle recovery and ensure you don’t end up injured due to tearing over-worked muscles that didn’t get the nutrients they need to recover! During a workout you end up creating “micro tears” in your muscles (apparently) and taking protein directly after a heavy workout just immediately starts sending the hormones, enzymes, cellular messengers, nucleic acids, and immune-system components that your muscles need to recover! :) So – for the girls don’t worry about becoming “bulky” doing weights, OR moreover, taking protein shakes or bars after gym! Some of the hottest girls I know *cough*Cathy*cough* weight train HARDCORE (crossfit style) and have a whey shake after workouts!
So that is enough to motivate me – based on experience and the recommendations of people I trust, I introduced protein after workouts. Shakes. Are. Gross. I can’t. Great for you if you love them.. I can’t stomach a shake on a good day – let alone when I am exhausted, sweaty and shakey from a hectic weight session… So I started investigating bars. OMG. There are NO BARS in the world without sugar in them!! Okay. Wait. I take that back. There are no bars in the world without sugar in them that are less than R45 a bar. FORTY FIVE RAND? for a bar? I love love love Quest bars – totally paleo friendly! LOVE! But, they cost at least R45 a pop. Until recently were over R50!!! I just can’t. Imagine! 6 times a week you work out and need a bar – thats a whopping R300 a week!! R1200 a month?? No. Obviously they are still ideal for snack situations or meal replacements – on the fly when you are too busy for a proper meal. But as a steady source of protein after workouts you need something more financially sustainable :)
SO I started trying out bar recipes. IT’S NOT EASY. Trying to make a bar that is low carb, sugar free, low-calorie (don’t wanna eat my entire workout’s worth of calories) and tastes good?? It was a trial and error process of note. During this process I also found I am quite reactive to Whey protein (must be an extension of the dairy intolerance) so I now use Whey Isolate Powder – 97% lactose free. You can buy it in any Dischem, but whatever protein powder works for you will also work in this recipe.
Anyway, I think I made 3 or 4 different bars before perfecting it. First ones stuck in your teeth like waaaaaay too much. I mean most home-made bars have a certain degree of sticky/clingy/teethy texture, but this was unbearable. So first one out. Second recipe, the afore-mentioned Cathy practically spat hers out. The Head of Design at my office pretty much eats ANYTHING and even he pulled a face when trying one – needless to say, second one OUT. Third time I tried something with my Date Ball recipe – adding protein powder to make date bars… Aside from being ludicrously high in calories they tasted really bad.
Luckily I finally cracked the protein-bar-code and refined the recipe to be really delicious AND low-cal, and only sort of sticky ;)
Just a note – these bars aren’t sweet… The last thing I want after a workout is something that tastes like dessert. I made these to be quite light and non-descript. You are welcome to add a 1/4 tsp of Stevia if you feel that they are lacking in a bit of sweetness!
Also, if you want chocolate bars, add 1 tbs cocoa and dark chocolate chips instead of goji berries. In fact, the goji berries can pretty much be subbed out for ANYTHING YOU WANT. Walnuts and cranberries, pistachios, cinnamon and pecan nuts, dark choc chips and hazelnuts… go crazy. And you can add as many spices to mix up the flavour as you like. Next time I will be doing 2 tbs cinnamon with a dash of nutmeg for a more “spicy” bar!
YAY! Hope these help those gym/crossfit fanatics out there that are over shakes and refuse to spend their entire salary on Quest bars ;)
- 200gr Nut butter (I used 150gr Organic Peanut Butter and 50gr Almond Butter)
- 120gr Whey Isolate Powder (unflavoured - can substitute with unflavoured Hemp Protein, Pea Protein or normal Whey powder as well)
- 60gr coconut milk
- 1 tbs vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
- 1 tbs lemon zest (optional)
- 3/4 cup desiccated coconut
- 1 tbs coconut flour (optional - just reduces stickiness)
- 4 tbs honey
- 1/2 cup - 1 cup goji berries (or dark choc chips, or shredded coconut, nuts, anything you like!)
- 100gr extra dark choc (I used 85% Lindt bar, but any old dark choc will do just fine)
- Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender.
- Pulse / blend until everything is mixed together.
- May need to scrape down the sides a couple times, the mixture becomes quite tacky and thick.
- Put the blended "dough" into a bowl and fold in the mix.
- Take roughly golf ball sized chunks to form into bars.
- Melt chocolate on a broiler (or a bowl over a simmering pot of water).
- Drizzle chocolate over the bars - you decide how much you want!
- Freeze to set the bars and chocolate for about 30 minutes.
- You can then wrap each bar individually in foil or cling wrap and then just pop them back in the freezer in a ziplock bag, taking one out when you want!
- I got 12 bars out of my batch - perfect for 2 weeks of training!