07 May 2012

Homemade Protein Bars

Since I've been losing 500 calories a day sitting on the couch feeding this child of mine, I've been HUNGRY!!  I tired of having to make myself a sandwich at odd hours, so I've been buying some protein bars to keep me full.  They generally do the trick (I especially like Builder's Bars).  Now that Cora has a consistent bed time, I thought maybe I could try saving myself some money and preservatives and make some myself!  I had made some homemade granola to put in my yogurt a few weeks back, so this seemed like a logical step.

I searched around and found a few decent videos that helped, and now have made these a handful of times.

Chocolate Protein Bars
Yields 12 Bars

Dry ingredients:
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup chocolate whey protein powder
  • ¼ cup nuts (I suggest chopped/slivered almonds or peanuts)
  • ½ Tbsp. cinnamon
  • (⅓ cup dried cranberries or other dried fruit--optional)
Wet ingredients:
  • ½ cup nut butter of choice
  • ¼ cup honey (raw is best!)
  • ¼ cup milk (any kind, you could probably also use water instead)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  In a different bowl, mix the wet ingredients together, then microwave the wet ingredients for 30 seconds.  Stir the wet stuff together until creamy--this might require some extra microwave time.  Pour the wet stuff onto the dry (or vice versa).  Mix it all together.  Feel free to add some extra mixins like more nuts or chocolate chips.

Line a baking dish with parchment paper (or wax paper, but it doesn't stick to parchment paper) and drop the mixture down into it, smooshing it down.  Put another piece of parchment paper on top to help you get it uniform (it's pretty sticky).  Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, but preferably longer.  When you take it out, turn the whole thing upside down so it lands on the top piece of paper.  Then cut it into bars, which is easiest if you use a pizza cutter.  I did mine in an 8x8 baking dish and cut it into 12 bars.  You could also make these into balls or cut into small squares if you want.

Easy to cut with pizza cutter.

 I'll admit that these are pretty sticky.  To make them not sticky, you could roll them in crushed nuts or even dip in chocolate almond bark if you're feeling ambitious.   

There are a few things I'll do differently next time.  I didn't have any almonds, so I threw whatever I had in there.  Which were pecans.  Yeah, I don't recommend those.  I used regular creamy peanut butter, but I wonder if using a more natural nut butter (the kind you have to refrigerate) would make it less sticky too.  I also might add some extra chocolate chips in at the end because I just love my chocolate.

I also wanted to see a cost breakdown to see if it was worth my time.  (It took less than 15 minutes, so the answer to that is "most likely so.")  But I'm a frugal and curious momma, so why not figure this out.  This calculation actually took me longer than making the recipe because I had to keep converting volume measurements to weight (thank you WolframAlpha for speeding this process up).

The recipe above yields 10 bars, and the cost per bar breaks down to this:
whey protein powder: 0.13
oats: 0.09
peanut butter: 0.07
cinnamon: 0.01
almonds: 0.05
craisins: 0.05
raw honey: 0.12
almond milk: 0.01
applesauce: 0.02
chocolate chips: 0.04
pure vanilla extract: 0.03
Total: 0.62

62 cents is about half what I spend buying these in the store, so I'm going to say that yes it was worth it for me!

UPDATE 7/2/2012  (Since this has been going around Pinterest.)  I have made these about 5 times now, and the original recipe is still pretty awesome.  I would recommend using the quick oats, just for texture's sake, but I still use either depending on what's in the pantry.  Also, if you want to add more chocolate chips (or PB chips or white chocolate chips) for something crunchy in it, wait until you've mixed everything together (i.e., have a big sticky mess).  Otherwise, the chips will melt.  I think these are really really good with that extra crunch, as I've decided that using dried fruit in this just doesn't work for me.  Another easy way to get a crunch is to use extra-crunchy peanut butter.

 I have also figured out an easy way to use parchment paper to roll them up into individual bars that you can take with you, and will get pictures of that process soon, but here is the finished product.

Protein bars to go!

As for the price, I did my calculations based on the absolute most you would reasonably spend on each ingredient.  Personally, I use non-raw Thrifty Bee honey, cow's milk, and regular peanut butter, so my final cost is closer to probably around $0.55.


  1. Hi, I was just wondering, how long do these bars last?

    1. Since they contain milk, I store them in the fridge and they have lasted over a week. We usually eat them all by then! I'd probably say 2 weeks tops.

  2. I did not find this recipe wet at all if anything is way dry and I added a little more milk to it. It was a great recipe though. Made it for my husband who is trying to get back into shape. He loves them. Thanks for the recipe.

  3. how many calories would you estimate to be in one bar?

    1. According to this amazing website, one bar has 243 calories. Yes, I know that's a lot, but I was not concerned with calories when making this. (I was essentially trying to "bulk," as they say.) However, one bar does have 17% of your daily protein and 16% of your fiber. If you want less calories, you can cut each bar into thirds and just have little protein "bites"! Here is a screenshot of the nutritional breakdown from that website.

  4. I made this on my blog http://dirtanddesserts.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/chocolate-protein-bars/#comments

    and gave a shout-out to you! There were amazing and they were a great way for me to get some protein in my diet. I used a bit more peanut butter and apple sauce. Thank you for the recipe!

  5. Oh my gosh, I can't wait to make these! I was just thinking about starting to buy Larabars and other similar bars in bulk, but I like these so much better!