Make Your Own Homemade Protein Bars

Granola Bars on White Background
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I'm often asked if eating a protein bar is a good idea for use as a meal replacement or as a healthy snack. Your body needs protein to maintain organ and tissue structures and it's needed for immune system function. It's not difficult to get enough protein from your diet, but snacking on a protein bar is a good way to keep you feeling satisfied between meals. 

Some of the protein bars found in grocery stores and markets have a good amount or protein without too many extra calories, but some are loaded with sugars and fats so they look (and taste) more like candy bars.

So my suggestion? Make your own. When you make protein bars at home, you'll control all the ingredients so they can be as healthy as you want them to be.

How to Make Protein Bars

Making protein bars isn't difficult, just about as easy as baking a batch of cookies. And since you control the ingredients, you can find recipes that use a little less sugarhealthier fats or more fiber, whatever you need to fit your diet.

Another advantage to making protein bars at home is the substantial cost savings. Individually wrapped protein bars are expensive compared to buying the ingredients and putting a little time into production. I also like the fact that you can tweak and ingredients to adjust the flavors.

There are plenty of delicious protein bar recipes on cooking, health and fitness sites. When you're searching for protein bar recipes, be sure to look for healthy ingredients such as oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruit, along with protein powders or nut butter.

Some recipes require baking and some don't. 

I'll get you started with this basic protein bar recipe. You can change up the mix-ins to suit your mood:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled quick-cook oats
  • 1/2 cup vanilla-flavored protein powder
  • 2 Tbsp hemp hearts
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter 
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 8 inch by 8-inch baking dish with margarine or butter. Or you can spray it with cooking spray. ]
  • Add oats, protein powder, hemp hearts, cinnamon, and salt to a large mixing bowl.
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine peanut butter, honey, almond milk, and vanilla extract. Mix until thoroughly combined. Pour the wet mix into dry ingredients and stir until fully incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips.
  • Pour the mixture into the baking dish. Spread the mixture evenly into the dish, pressing down firmly.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the edges begin to turn golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 20 to 25 minutes before cutting into bars.
  • Store in the refrigerator. Makes about one dozen bars.

You can wrap your bars individually and carry them with you for a mid-day snack at work or school. Or eat them as a little recovery meal after your workout.

 

Customize your protein bars:

  • Try different flavors of protein powder. Vanilla is a good start, but you might like chocolate or another flavor.
  • Use ground flax or chia seeds in place of the hemp hearts. Any of these options will add beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Experiment with almond, soy or cashew butter instead of the peanut butter.
  • The honey can be swapped out for agave or maple syrup.
  • The chocolate chips can be replaced with butterscotch or white chocolate chips. Or try an equal amount of raisins or other small dried fruits or chopped nuts.

Nutrition Information

The total nutrition for these bars will vary a bit based on the ingredients you choose, but with the basic recipe, each bar will have about 170 calories, 6 grams protein, 23 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, and 7 grams fat.7 grams fat.

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