No-Bake Chocolate Protein Bars

  September 25, 2019  |    Blog>Home Feature

If you’ve been looking for a healthy and satisfying homemade protein bar that’s easy to make, packed with wholesome, anti-inflammatory ingredients and fiber and –that  you can grab for a sweet tasting snack on-the-go, these No-Bake Chocolate Protein Bars are about to be your new bestie.  We’re pretty psyched about these–they turned out really well and were so easy to make and kind of taste like a hot chocolate flavored Rx bar (the texture reminds us of Rx bars a little, dare we say a tastier, less expensive Copy Cat RX bar! 😉 ). We love that the ingredients are super simple (vegan & gluten-free too!), and the method is too — basically just mix and press into a pan!  Not bad for a protein-packed, fiber-filled protein bar that you can make part of your everyday healthy snack routine.

We wanted to make sure that our delicious and healthy homemade snack bar creation was a far cry from our early day protein bar experiences (and from many of the bars on the market), which we falsely believed were healthy on-the-go fuel.  When we were in high school we relied on our daily snack routine (an apple and peanut butter) to boost our energy and tide us over between school soccer practice and club team practice.  The idea of a bar that we could grab on the go and that was purported to fuel workouts and to help muscles to repair with protein—and that tasted like a candy bar (score for our sweet tooth!) had us sold!  The only issue… the “healthy snack” was the nutritional equivalent of a candy bar –full of artery-clogging saturated fat, sugar and not too much else.

We didn’t admit it at the time…

because we liked the taste, but we never felt completely satisfied after eating those energy bars. Instead, it actually made us want to eat more sweets. 😳 We always felt lousy after we ate it, and we didn’t play well at practice. (It made Tammy a bit moody, or maybe it was Lyssie. Depending on what twin you ask, someone was moody!) The protein bar just didn’t cut the mustard when it came to doing what a snack/protein bar should do…

Interestingly, to this day, healthy protein bars are still in demand.  One of the questions that we get asked most as registered dietitian nutritionists is about protein bars.  People want to know how many grams of protein and fiber you should look for in a protein bar and how many calories should you stick to when choosing a good protein bar for a snack.  We’ve got your covered with the answers below—and with our easy homemade snack bar that fits the bill! 👍

What’s considered a healthy snack (including a protein bar)?

When it comes to choosing a heathy snack (including an easy protein bar recipe that fuels your flat-belly workout), the goal is to prevent hunger between meals– as well as blood sugar highs, crashes and mood swings– while providing long-lasting energy.  On top of that, the snack needs to be low enough in calories to help achieve or maintain that flat-belly!  And of course, it needs to be nutrient-packed to fuel the body and to make sure it’s functioning at its’ best—including that efficient, fat-burning metabolism.  There are key factors that are needed for a snack (and meals) to pull off this feat, which we’ve been discussing for a long time, and if you’ve read our first book, Fire Up Your Metabolism, you know we also discuss this there.

4 Friendly Snacks For Weight Loss

Top Late Night Snacks (our picks for weight loss)

Note: Depending on your personal needs, a healthy snack may also need to be gluten-free, dairy-free or free of other allergens. That’s why we created our No-bake Chocolate Protein Bar recipe with gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan options!

How many calories should a snack (or bar) have?  Grams of Fiber and Protein?

You want a snack to be light enough that you feel like you can exercise after eating it, but not so light that you’ll be starving in an hour.  This means for most women (and teens), this snack should be under roughly 200 calories, ideally 10 + grams of protein and at least 3 grams of fiber, with less than 200 mg of sodium. For men, these numbers can be a rough estimate, as well.  Sometimes those guys who exercise intensely or who go a very long time between meals, find they need the snack to be a bit larger, but if so, they also realize that they need to pay close attention to keep the size of their meals in check so they don’t go overboard, so they can keep their six-pack abs.

A snack that’s packed with calories typically leads to weight gain.  We’ve even seen this happen to our health-minded clients who came to us initially after gaining weight from eating or drinking seemingly healthy and waist-line friendly foods, like smoothies and smoothie bowls.

Why do you need protein and fiber in a healthy snack (bar)?

For a long-lasting energy boost that fills you up without filling you out, protein and fiber in combination are the key– that’s why our No-Bake Chocolate Protein bar contains decent amounts of them both (10 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber).

Both fiber and protein take time to digest –i.e., they help to promote a gradual release of energy from carbs and prevent blood sugar spikes from sugar.  Protein takes 4- 6 hours to digest, while carbs, even the wholesome ones, like oats in this recipe, digest in only 1-4 hours.  This fast digestion of carbs (the body’s favorite source of fuel) is great when you want quick energy, but when you want it to last, you have to add some protein to slow the digestion and to extend the boost from the carbs.  Otherwise, a bar without protein and fiber, even if it’s not loaded with sugar, may leave you feeling more like you took a straight shot glass of sugar, simply because there wasn’t any protein or fiber to slow the release of energy and fight the crash that comes when your body quickly digests carbs! 😳

Fiber, like protein, is digested slowly and extends the energy boost of the carbohydrates, so it provides satisfaction and comes wrapped in a wholesome bundle (think plants–fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts and beans) that also includes antioxidants, phytonutrients and anti-inflammatory compounds. So you want to choose wholesome carbohydrates, such as oats, cherries, almond butter and flaxseeds, like in this simple recipe, versus isolated fibers that have been pulled out of foods and added back into some store-bought bars, since the wholesome carbohydrates come packed with fiber to provide a longer lasting energy boost.  Plus, if you want a flat-belly, fiber is your friend.Check out these fiber and protein-packed smoothies that make great snacks!

Blueberry Chai Protein Smoothie

Metabolism Boosting Green Smoothie

Fiber in your snack (bar) keeps you satisfied.

Since fiber causes a more gradual digestion of carbohydrates, it keeps you feeling fuller longer as the body uses them slowly and this extends the energy boost from carbohydrates.  Personally, we find that one of our favorite characteristics of fiber is that it also promotes a feeling of fullness because when you drink water with it, it expands in your stomach like a sponge, and takes up space!  We find that when we eat meals without fiber, we’d want to eat a lot more food in order to feel satisfied.

Fiber helps your body in its’ natural detoxification process. (Plus, it helps to promote a flat belly!).

Fiber is one of the best ways to help your body in its’ natural detoxification process.  The body naturally clears toxins from pesticides, alcohol, a poor diet, stress, etc., with organs like its’ lungs, liver and kidneys.  And fiber helps to lessen the burden on your organs by pulling toxins and waste out of the body through elimination (when you go to the bathroom, #2). If you’re constipated, it’s very likely you may need more fiber to push the food remnants and toxins out of your body.

If food is sitting in your colon and you’re feeling constipated, your flat belly takes a hit too and you can see the unsightly gut bulges as the stomach is being pushed out.

How many grams of sugar should your snack have?

If you are like us, you’ve probably have been bamboozled–biting into a “healthy” snack bar only to later find out it’s loaded with sugar (or artificial sweeteners).  Even if the sweetener used is honey, coconut sugar, agave, brown rice syrup or another sweetener that may have slight advantages over sugar, these all are sources of added sugar that should be limited to about 25 grams a day.  So, think about limiting the ADDED sugar in a bar to about 6 grams.

You’ll want to stay away from artificial sweeteners like sucrolose or aspartame as they have been shown to damage the gut microbiome.  We prefer more natural sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit to these no-calorie options, but remember that all sweeteners should be limited. And as girls with a sweet tooth, we get that this can be a challenge and have tons of tricks up our sleeves to satisfy our big ‘ole sweet tooth–and our clients’, too, with a lot less sugar!

If you’d like help keeping your sweet tooth satisfied while getting the health results you’d like, schedule a chat to find out about becoming a client to see how we can help you!

We couldn’t wait to create our own sweet protein bar recipe that you can take as a healthy, on-the-go snack that provides long-lasting energy and will help to maintain or achieve a healthy weight by preventing hunger and the overeating that comes with it–and that wasn’t loaded with sugar or artificial ingredients. You guessed it; our No-bake Chocolate Protein Bar fits the bill!

These bars are super dense and filling thanks to all of the hearty and wholesome, fiber-filled ingredients like oats, almond butter, flax, and protein, from protein powder. And it’s nice that the whole recipe uses just 1/4 cup of honey–that’s just 6 grams of added sugar per bar.  The vanilla flavored protein powder helps sweeten it so that you don’t really need more than that 1/4 cup.  These bars are sweet enough to be a satisfying chocolate-flavored snack, but definitely not so sweet that they’ll throw your taste buds out of whack ;).

This Simple Snack is a Protein-Packed Vegan Recipe

The cool thing about this protein bar recipe is the flexibility provided by the protein powder options.  If you want to follow the vegan recipe, simply choose the pea protein powder.  If you prefer to add dairy protein, choose whey protein.  Although we don’t always use protein powder, we appreciate that it’s an easy way to get more protein into your diet when you don’t feel like eating meat or when you want to get a concentrated source of protein. Plus, it’s a protein source that you don’t have to worry about it spoiling. Whether you’re a body builder or just relaxing at home, protein plays a role in your metabolism and maintaining lean muscle mass. Just make sure that the protein that you choose isn’t full of other additives and preservatives.

No -Bake Chocolate Protein Bars

This easy snack recipe tastes like a hot chocolate flavored RX BAR.  It’s fiber and protein-packed and perfect for an on-the-go snack that doesn’t go bad.  It’s been the ideal addition to our healthy weekday routine and its’ light enough to keep you lean but satisfying enough to keep you feeling full with 10 grams protein.  This protein-packed vegan recipe that’s gluten-free, dairy-free and even ideal for kids and teens.

Makes 16 servings

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cup vanilla pea protein powder** (ideally organic)

1 cup oats

2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

3 tablespoons cacao (or cocoa) powder

⅓ cup dried cherries (can substitute any dried fruit)

½ cup almond butter

¼ cup honey

5-6 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Combine protein powder, oats, flax, cacao, and dried cherries in a large bowl.
  2. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the almond butter and honey. Microwave for 45 seconds, until honey is melted and almond butter is loose.
  3. Add the water and vanilla to the hot almond butter/honey mixture and whisk to combine.
  4. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until a dough-like mixture forms. (We started out with a spatula and ended up kneading the mixture a bit with our hands to get it all incorporated.)
  5. Line a loaf pan or 8×8 pan with parchment paper. Press the mixture evenly into the pan, cover with parchment paper, and refrigerate for at least an hour to set.
  6. Remove the bars from the pan and peel away the parchment paper. Cut into 16 bars.
  7. Store bars wrapped or in an airtight container in the fridge. Bars will last for several weeks in the fridge.

*notes:

  • **If you’d like a less chewy version, you can decrease the protein powder to ¾ cup protein powder and the water to 4 tablespoons of water. To keep the bars at 150 calories per bar, increase the cherries to 1/2 cup of cherries but note that the protein will decrease to 8 grams, which is still more than many bars out there. Be aware that this version may not satisfy  you as long, however, some of our clients prefer the texture.
  • Chocolate or other flavored protein powders can be used. This recipe was tested with pea protein and whey protein powders, others should work as well.
  • Feel free to substitute other dried fruits for the dried cherries – dried cranberries or chopped dates would also be great!
  • Be sure to use a runny almond butter rather than a stiff almond butter. I find that the almond butter you can buy in jars is runnier than the grind-your-own almond butters in the bulk section of grocery stores. Runny almond butter will melt easier and help hold everything together!
  • If your mixture is too dry (different protein powders may absorb liquid differently), simply add water 1 tbsp at a time until the mixture holds together. It will feel like a stiff cookie dough that can be pressed (not poured) into a pan.

Nutrition Facts per Serving (1 bar): 150 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 18 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 10 g protein, 8 g sugar, 20 mg sodium

If you’d like help finding foods

that you enjoy and that satisfy you

while getting the health results you’d like,

schedule a chat

to find out about becoming a client &

see how we can help you!

No-Bake Chocolate Protein Bars
 
*notes: If you’d like a less chewy version, you can decrease the protein powder to ¾ cup protein powder and the water to 4 tablespoons of water. To keep the bars at 150 calories per bar, you could use ½ cup of cherries I also reduced the cherries slightly to ⅓ cup instead of ½ cup, just to keep the calories at 150 per serving with the additional protein powder added but note that the protein will decrease to 8 grams. Chocolate or other flavored protein powders can be used. This recipe was tested with pea protein and whey protein powders, others should work as well. Feel free to substitute other dried fruits for the dried cherries - dried cranberries or chopped dates would also be great! Be sure to use a runny almond butter rather than a stiff almond butter. I find that the almond butter you can buy in jars is runnier than the grind-your-own almond butters in the bulk section of grocery stores. Runny almond butter will melt easier and help hold everything together! If your mixture is too dry (different protein powders may absorb liquid differently), simply add water 1 tbsp at a time until the mixture holds together. It will feel like a stiff cookie dough that can be pressed (not poured) into a pan.
Author:
Recipe type: Snack, Pre or Post Exercise Snack, Protein Bar
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 ¼ cup vanilla pea protein powder** (ideally organic)
  • 1 cup oats
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 3 tablespoons cacao (or cocoa) powder
  • ⅓ cup dried cherries (can substitute any dried fruit)
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 5-6 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Directions:
  2. Combine protein powder, oats, flax, cacao, and dried cherries in a large bowl.
  3. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the almond butter and honey. Microwave for 45 seconds, until honey is melted and almond butter is loose.
  4. Add the water and vanilla to the hot almond butter/honey mixture and whisk to combine.
  5. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until a dough-like mixture forms. (We started out with a spatula and ended up kneading the mixture a bit with our hands to get it all incorporated.)
  6. Line a loaf pan or 8x8 pan with parchment paper. Press the mixture evenly into the pan, cover with parchment paper, and refrigerate for at least an hour to set.
  7. Remove the bars from the pan and peel away the parchment paper. Cut into 16 bars.
  8. Store bars wrapped or in an airtight container in the fridge. Bars will last for several weeks in the fridge.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 bar Calories: 150 Fat: 6 g Saturated fat: 1 g Carbohydrates: 18 g Sugar: 8 g Sodium: 20 mg Fiber: 3 g Protein: 10 g

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe: