In 2009, my husband watched an episode about homemade protein bars on Good Eats (Food Network) that would change my life. Seriously!
He and I had been constant purchasers of protein bars. We had started eating six small meals a day and often used protein bars as meal replacements. We’d find a favorite bar, and later it would be discontinued or taken off the market, and the cycle would repeat. I didn’t like spending so much money on the individually packaged bars when I knew if I just found the right recipe that I’d save some money.
When he introduced me to the recipe for protein bars from Good Eats, I was very apprehensive. The ingredients sounded foreign and I didn’t have a clue where to find them. Also, who wanted to spend time making homemade protein bars every week?
After careful scouring of my local grocery store and Trader Joe’s, I was able to find the ingredients. I had never had tofu before (as I was not a vegetarian at this point), had never heard of wheat germ, and didn’t even know there was such a thing as soy protein powder.
When we made the recipe the first time, the batter smelled of caramel apples. After baking, it smelled pretty good, but it didn’t look all that great.
I quickly became a fan of these bars although my husband did not care for them. I continued to play with the recipe to fit my tastes and eventually began eating three servings a day as snacks. As the weeks went by and the bars became a staple in my diet, I began playing more and more with the idea of being meat free. At this point, I had been leery of eating meat and realized that if I just consumed enough protein I could avoid meat entirely. As someone who had been lifting weights regularly since 1992, protein was a concern of mine. I knew these bars would take care of my needs.
Six years later and a vegetarian for just as long, I am still making these homemade protein bars about once every 1-2 weeks. My husband lovingly bought me a brownie edge pan for these bars since I love crispy edges, although any 9×13 pan will do. The only dried fruit I use is raisins. I also add a bit of cocoa, about a cup of chocolate chips (everything tastes better with chocolate!), and I even use egg replacer sometimes (This is a recipe that can be made vegan very easily). I’ve also recently altered the recipe from being wheat based to being oat based, to cut down on my gluten consumption (substituting oat flour and oatmeal for the wheat flour and wheat germ).
Remember, as these are preservative-free protein bars, they will only be good for about a week if kept at room temperature. I usually keep a small portion of bars on the kitchen counter and keep the rest in the freezer until I am ready to eat them. When they start to go bad, they will have a sour taste to them.
Now keep in mind, these are protein bars, not brownies! They will not be the most glorious thing you’ve ever tasted; however, when you compare them to regular Clif bars, or Luna bars, or another mass manufactured protein bar, you will enjoy them. They’re fresh with no weird ingredients, nothing artificial, and you know what it’s made of.
These homemade protein bars have been a lifesaver for me. Little did my husband know when he introduced me to this recipe, that it would be something I would be making hundreds of times over.
Enjoy the recipe, it’s featured below. My altered recipe (featuring oat flour instead of wheat flour) is listed below Alton Brown’s recipe.
Link to recipe here
Total Time: 1 hr
Prep: 25 min
Cook: 35 min
Yield: 24 (2-inch) squares
4 ounces soy protein powder, approximately 1 cup
2 1/4 ounces oat bran, approximately 1/2 cup
2 3/4 ounces whole-wheat flour, approximately 1/2 cup
3/4 ounce wheat germ, approximately 1/4 cup
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 ounces raisins, approximately 1/2 cup
2 1/2 ounces dried cherries, approximately 1/2 cup
3 ounces dried blueberries, approximately 1/2 cup
2 1/2 ounces dried apricots, approximately 1/2 cup
1 (12.3-ounce) package soft silken tofu
1/2 cup unfiltered apple juice
4 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/2 cup packed
2 large whole eggs, beaten
2/3 cup natural peanut butter
Canola oil, for pan
Line the bottom of a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish with parchment paper and lightly coat with canola oil. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the protein powder, oat bran, wheat flour, wheat germ, and salt. Set aside. Coarsely chop the raisins, dried cherries, blueberries and apricots and place in a small bowl and set aside.
In a third mixing bowl, whisk the tofu until smooth. Add the apple juice, brown sugar, eggs, and peanut butter, 1 at a time, and whisk to combine after each addition. Add this to the protein powder mixture and stir well to combine. Fold in the dried fruit. Spread evenly in the prepared baking dish and bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 205 degrees F. Remove from the oven and cool completely before cutting into squares. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown, 2005
© 2015 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.
(With a few changes from the recipe above)
¾ cup oat bran
1 ½ cups soy powder
¾ cup whole wheat (or OAT) flour
½ cup wheat germ (or ½ cup old-fashioned OATS)
¼ cup cocoa
¾ tsp. kosher salt
2 ½ cups dried fruits and nuts (raisins, almonds, walnuts, chocolate chips)
16 oz soft silken tofu
¾ cup unfiltered or regular apple juice (or more if necessary to thin the batter)
¾ cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs (or egg replacer for 2 eggs)
1 cup natural peanut butter
13 x 9 pan, lined in parchment paper that is greased. (or grease ‘edges only’ pan)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Chop nuts and fruit. Set aside. Mix dry ingredients. Set aside. Whisk tofu with wet ingredients. Stir in peanut butter. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture. Stir. Add chopped nuts and fruit. Bake 40-45 minutes until bars are light brown. Keeps in airtight container in room air for only a week. Refrigerate or freeze for long term storage and enjoy!