I don’t tend to follow fads or new diet crazes, and I’m usually about four years behind on the latest ‘superfood’ but I have to admit when I was back in the UK a few weeks ago I did treat myself to a few ‘raw organic bars’. Some of them were pretty good – but really expensive! Up to £2. Two pounds! For a few nuts, seeds and dried fruits pressed together into an (admittedly tasty) little snack bar.
I only forked out the scandalous fees because I really wanted to try them – and to know if I could make one equally good (or better) myself, for cheaper. I could, and I can.
Keeping Costs Down
As I mentioned already, and will continue to do so, most of these bars are extortionately expensive. And why? Well partly because the costs of nuts and seeds start to add up, but mostly because these companies know that people will pay through the nose for something once they see a label of ‘natural’, ‘organic’, ‘animal friendly’, ‘paleo’, ‘gluten free’ or whatever. Take your pick, it’s probably been slapped on a bar. Even just giving it a tag like this seems to magically make the bar cost double the price.
It’s the same for the companies producing meat replacement products (think sliced veggie ‘ham’) and so on – it’s bullshit. You’re paying through the nose for an inexpensive item (usually a mash of some type of tofu/soya or seitan) because they know you will. If you’re avoiding meat for humane reasons then beware that many of these ‘veggie’ companies are big meat producers too – and you’re feeding them profit. Many meat replacements also use egg, and although some used are free-range, many are not.
I’m not saying they’re all evil or worthless, and indeed they can be a great help from transitioning away from eating meat, but paying stupid money to a company for a no-meat product or a few nuts and berries can’t be the answer can it? Being vegetarian or vegan is starting to get a reputation for being expensive – and I call bull.
So what to do? Make no bake protein bars yourself of course!
By my reckoning, a ‘bar’ of this delicious concoction will cost you at most $1.00 if you make them yourself. And those are big bars, like 50g, compared to the 30g bars I was eating. You’ll need to invest in the essential ingredients like lovely hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds and apricots first and an easy way to do it is order it all online. If you can buy in bulk you have a real advantage, though of course that’s what the big companies have too. It can be worth keeping an eye out in your local area for special offers and deals too.
You’ll need an initial outlay to begin with to buy the various different ingredients first, but nuts and dried fruits last forever (well pretty much anyway) so you’ll be stocked up for ages. Think of it as an investment 🙂
As an optional side, you can also put in some flax seeds or protein powder (so you can also flavour the bars in different ways). These elevate the nutritional content way above typical store bought bars, and are perfect for a post-workout snack. We also add a little dark chocolate for the blood pressure benefits it brings (as well as taste of course).
You can even mix up the nuts, seeds and fruits to what you have at home. If you don’t have apricots but have a load of raisins or dried cranberries – use them instead! You’ll save money and make sure ingredients don’t get wasted. As long as you follow the amounts listed in the recipe, the consistency of the of the bars will be perfect. So set your creative side free – go wild 😉
Health Benefits – No Bake Protein Bars
I could write an essay on the importance of getting nuts and seeds into your diet – but I don’t want to bore you. Plus, these guys have summed it up a lot better. In a nutshell (har har) – almonds will help with heart health, provide protection against diabetes and even help with losing weight – to name but a few benefits!
Some seeds, like pumpkin seeds, are an exceptionally good way of obtaining zinc – helping greatly with antioxidant support. According to WHfoods, pumpkin seeds have even been linked to lowering risks of cancer! Time to dig in, I think 🙂
- 50g almonds
- 50g hazelnuts
- 50g porridge oats
- 50g pumpkin seeds
- 1-2 tbsp maple syrup/honey
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 shot fresh espresso/strong coffee
- 50g dried apricots
- 50g dark chocolate (use vegan dark chocolate if you’re vegan of course!)
- 100g flax seeds
- Pinch of salt
- 125g your favourite protein powder instead of the flax seeds.
- Add the nuts, oats and seeds and toast on a low heat for four or five minutes - until golden brown.
- Pour in the syrup, olive oil and coffee and stir for a couple of minutes.
- Add the apricots, dark chocolate and flax seeds (or protein powder). Keep stirring until it’s all mixed evenly.
- Line a tray with cling film or foil and pour in the mixture. Press it down firmly with a spoon or spatula - this will ensure the bar stays together properly.
- Chill for a minimum of four hours in the fridge, chop into equal sizes and take one whenever you want!