When faced with a to-do list, there are two types of people in this world. Those that tackle the hardest project and those that hit the easiest. I fall into the former category, choosing “change wireless provider” over “change dirty diaper”. But like George Castanza, today I’m going to go against my natural inclination (in hopes of better outcomes) and choose the opposite – I’m going to attempt the easiest of my Zero Waste New Year’s resolutions: homemade protein bars.
First of all, I had to change the search entry. “Homemade protein bars” spits out a bunch of recipes that require a tin of whey, soy, Mylo/Rilo protein powder. And since I’m not lifting much more than a load of laundry or eight bags of groceries these days, I decided to change my search to “homemade energy bars.” **For my CrossFit friends out there, many stores DO sell protein powder in bulk.
Second, many of these recipes require rice cereal (read: Rice Krispies) as a binder. Again, I don’t want to create more waste, and as of today, I can’t recycle the Rice Krispies bag.
First I started with this recipe for Raw Chocolate, Cashew and Almond bars. This went well enough until I added the cocoa to my $10 garage-sale food processor. Apparently there is a long crack around the handle and within a pulse or two I was stumbling through a Wonka-esque cloud of chocolate powder my kitchen. Mishaps aside, these bars make an easy Lärabar replacement. I froze them in the same aluminum foil I used to line the loaf pan.
Next, I wanted something a little less fruity and more substantial so I tried this Five Seed Energy Bar.
You know how food bloggers have pretty pictures of their ingredients? Yah, I don’t have that because I often run out of measuring cups. Or I make a mistake and am too cheap to repeat the experiment. Or my kitchen is filthy. Seriously, most of my pics are one arm swipe away from CNN disaster footage.
I liked that this recipe didn’t require a pan liner. I also thought this would be the healthy bar but instead it appears I’ve made Mounds Bar bars. They were so good, I’ve been using it less as an energy bar and more as a guilt-free dessert for the fam. Or mid-morning snack. Or first thing in the morning snack. As a bonus, there are no nuts in this recipe so I can send some with my kid to her ‘no nuts allowed’ school.
Next up was a Raspberry Energy Bar with whole wheat flour, wheat germ and flax seeds. This isn’t raw, you get to bake this one. As I started gathering the ingredients though, I realized it looked an awful lot like my Raspberry Bar dessert recipe with oats, butter, sugar and walnuts. So I didn’t make this one and instead decided to try it out as a healthier dessert next time. **Zero Waste note: instead of cooking spray, use the butter or butter wrappers to grease the pan.
What’s left? What sweet-tasting protein have I left out? What’s something you can snack on and tell yourself “Well, I need the protein, right”? This guy:
These Peanut Energy Bars are pretty easy. No need for a food processor, though you do need to shape the balls with your soon-to-be-slightly-greasy hands. The hardest part is always having flax seed or wheat germ on hand. Having peanut butter on hand isn’t hard though. That’s a silly thought….running out of peanut butter. Pfft.
But now I’m wishing I had tried this recipe from Gimme Some Oven – either because she has variations that include Nutella or because her blog name reminds me of the Blues Brothers.
Lesson: energy bars are a lot like smoothies – you just need to figure out the ratio between solids, liquids and binders and off you go.
Lesson: like their store-bought kin, homemade energy bars might double as dessert without due diligence.
I now feel I’m adequately supplied for those early morning runs when I need something in my belly. Or want a cheater breakfast. As I munch on another Five Seed Bar (I cannot help myself), I’m considering which resolution to try next. I should probably choose the next easiest resolution but I’ll probably pick the hardest, like successful meal planning. Because habits don’t go down without a fight, do they?
**Zero Waste note: the only tangible waste I had from this venture was from: my vanilla extract bottle, the honey (both in plastic) and the salt. I still haven’t managed to buy these products waste-free, but I’m working on it.