As you probably know by now, I’m a HUGE fan of homemade protein bars. You know why? Because they’re eons ahead of store-bought ones. They’re so much healthier! Even the really ‘clean’ protein bars out there, they all contain a bunch of questionable ingredients – stuff like ‘natural flavoring’, dodgy sweeteners, and inferior sources of protein.
And it isn’t only what they contain that we should pay attention to, it’s also what they don’t. When picking a protein bar, we should ask ourselves “what does this bar give me, besides protein and a whole bonanza of fiber? Micronutrient wise, what does this bar add to my diet?” Most often than not, the answer will be “not much.”
This is why I’m such a strong proponent of homemade protein bars. Because you can design them to deliver not just protein and fiber but also antioxidants, healthy fats, and lots of vitamins and minerals. And you can completely eliminate any and all dubious ingredients. Take for example these bars. They’re gluten-free, high in antioxidants, magnesium, iron, essential fats, vitamin A, calcium, and devoid of natural flavorings, fillers, preservatives, stabilizers, AND artificial sweeteners. They’re also ridiculously tasty. What’s not to love!?
1/2 cup unflavored whey protein powder (see Note 1 below for subs)
2 strips cooked bacon (grilled until crispy and then chopped)
4 tablespoons coconut flour
1/4 cup cocoa nibs (see Note 2 below for subs)
2 tablespoons xylitol (or granulated stevia)
1/2 cup milk (I used cartoned coconut milk but almond or rice would be nice too)
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1. Blend all ingredients together, except for the bacon which you should add after blending so as to retain it’s texture. Meanwhile, melt 1/2 bar (50g) of 85% dark chocolate in a bain marie (i.e. a glass bowl on top of a pot of boiling water). Once blended, shape the mixture into bars and then dip the bars into 1/2 bar of melted dark chocolate.
2. Once your bars are coated with chocolate, transfer them to the freezer for 30 minutes and… that’s it. Your bars are done.
Macros per Serving (out of the 5):
Now, if your mix is too watery or sticky to mould, add a bit more coconut flour or even some casein. If it’s too dry, add a bit more milk. Remember to follow the basic guidelines for protein bar making that I outlined in my “Protein Bar Ebook: Your Guide to Protein Bar Wizardry“.
Let me try to describe what they’re like. They’re soft but at the same time crunchy inside. The bacon and the chocolate are a match made in heaven. Salty and sweet, bitter and mighty! They have a hint of chili running throughout which adds this spicy accent to all the flavors, enhancing them and setting them further ablaze.
All in all, I give them a 10 out of 10. I’d give them an 11 out of 10 but, as I wrote before, that’s one of my pet peeves. They’re phenomenal. Give them a shot! Unless you’re vegan, you won’t regret it.
Notes 1: I used unflavored whey protein powder, this one. I like it because its ingredients’ label reads as follows: Pure Whey Protein Isolate. You can substitute it with any other unflavored whey OR you can use a flavored whey protein powder – ideally chocolate although vanilla and toffee would also work.
Notes 2: Cocoa nibs are great. They’re basically just the cocoa bean! They’re somewhat bitter though so if you don’t like bitter chocolate it’s likely that you won’t like cocoa nibs in which case you can substitute them with cocoa powder in the recipe :-)
PS: If, for whatever recipe, you don’t want to use bacon, feel free to leave it out and sub it with some chopped nuts or seeds!