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No Bake - Crispy Peanut Chocolate Chip Protein Bar Recipe

Updated: Jul 7, 2023



I have a problem with protein bars. Read as: I love a good protein bar a little too much.


I have a pretty strong sweet tooth, and being able to have something sweet that is also pretty good for me is satisfying. The struggle most people have with protein bars is finding great tasting ones with decent ingredients that don't cost a whole paycheck.


The solution? Make them yourself!




Reasons to make protein bars yourself


  1. Save money - Protein bars are one of the more expensive food items to buy, and making them is a fraction of a cost. Even specialty ingredients like protein puffs/cereal still only costs 12 to 40 cents per bar.

  2. Taste - like pretty much everything else in the food world, home made protein bars taste better, even when using identical ingredient lists to store bought.

  3. Ingredient control - Vegan? Keto? Gluten/Soy Free? Organic? Low Sodium? You can decide what's going into it.

  4. Less waste - All those foil wrappers are usually only recyclable using Terracycle or other specialty recycling program. Plastic waste in the United States is almost 500 lbs per year per person, so if I can find anywhere I can cut that down I'll try it.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. That means that if you purchase something by clicking the link, I earn a small commission from the company, at no cost to you. I only recommend items that I have researched and tried myself, and recommend to clients in my practice.

 

Crispy Peanut Chocolate Chip Protein Bar Recipe


Makes 12 protein bars

Prep: 15 mins

Chill Time: 1 hr

Total: 1 hr 15 mins


Ingredients:

  1. 1/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter

  2. 1/3 cup allulose syrup, chicory root syrup, keto honey or keto maple syrup, or if you're not so worried about carb intake: raw honey or dark maple syrup. Keep in mind the flavor will impact the final flavor of the bars towards honey or maple. Stick with allulose or chicory/inulin or brown rice syrup for a pure sweet flavor. You can save more money by making your own inulin syrup by mixing inulin powder 2:1 with water.

  3. 1 cup dry roasted salted peanuts

  4. 1 cup whey protein puffs or soy protein puffs (or crumbled Catalina Crunch or other protein cereal if you have it on hand)

  5. 1/4 teaspoon salt (Morton's Lite Salt to make it low sodium)

  6. 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips


Optional but good additions:

  1. 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  2. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and/or a few drops of stevia or monk fruit for extra sweetening

  3. 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal and/or hemp hearts for extra omega 3s, antioxidants and fiber

  4. Up to 1/2 cup or 2 scoops of vanilla protein powder or PB Fit peanut butter powder (this works especially well if your peanut butter is on the thin/liquid side)

  5. 2 tablespoons of virgin coconut or C8 MCT oil to make it a keto meal bar. You may need to reduce peanut butter depending on what other ingredients you use or skip

  6. If you want to get really fancy, extra chocolate chips to melt and dip


Cooking gear needed:

  1. Medium mixing bowl

  2. 8x8, 9x9, or similar sized baking pan

  3. Parchment paper - not required but super useful to prevent the bars from sticking to the bottom of the pan.


Instructions:

  1. Line an 8×8- or 9×9-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides like handles. If you aren't using parchment paper, grease the bottom with butter or coconut oil.

  2. Place the peanut butter, syrup, and coconut/MCT oil (if using) in a medium heat safe bowl.

    1. Microwave version - microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between each interval until smoothly combined. I only needed 30 seconds with an 1100 watt microwave.

    2. Stove version - Set the bowl over a saucepan of water and bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Stir until smoothly combined and remove from the saucepan.

    3. If your peanut butter is very soft/liquid, you may be able to skip heating it entirely and just stir everything together until smooth.

  3. Add the peanuts, protein puffs, salt, and all other ingredients EXCEPT chocolate chips to the bowl with the peanut butter mixture. Stir to combine. The mixture will seem dry at first (especially if you added protein powder) but will come together as you stir. It will be a little sticky and should hold together when pressed.

  4. If the mixture is still very warm or hot, place in the fridge or freezer for 3-4 minutes.

  5. When the mixture is close to room temperature, fold in the chocolate chips.

  6. Press evenly into the prepared pan, and refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.

  7. Lift the bars from the pan using the parchment handles and transfer them to a cutting board. Slice into 12 bars as desired.

  8. If you want these as a grab-and-go, simply roll each of them in a piece of cling wrap, snack Ziplocs, or 6 x 7 inch pieces of parchment paper or glassine paper sandwich bags if going plastic free, before placing them in an airtight container - borosilicate glass works best for keeping out "fridge flavor".


They'll be good for well over 2 weeks in the fridge. They are a bit gooier and crispier on the first day, then firm up after a couple of days, but still nice and chewy/crispy on day 21 even if you stick them in a plastic container. That's the longest they've ever lasted in our house, and only because I lost one in the fridge or it would have been eaten long, long before.


Wrapping protein bars in parchment paper. 2 bars mysteriously went missing during the process.

 

Nutrition


​Original recipe with inulin syrup

Keto version with MCT and Flax/Hemp

​Original recipe with extra protein powder

Nature Valley Protein Bar


















 

Cost Breakdown (as of June 2023)


1. Store Brand Natural Peanut Butter 18 oz jar: $2.49, cost for recipe: $0.31 2. Inulin Syrup - Inulin Powder 8 oz: $7.99, cost for recipe: $1.88

3. Dry Roasted Peanuts 16 oz - $2.29, cost for recipe: $0.61

4. Soy protein crisps 3 lbs $29.99, cost for recipe: $2.26

4A. OR High Protein lower carb cereal like Catalina Crunch, Incredibowl, Wonderworks, or Special K Zero - average 9 oz, $7.30, cost for recipe: $1.49

5. Mini Chocolate Chips 10 oz bag: $2.99, cost for recipe: $0.79


Total average cost for Original recipe 12 bars: $5.47

Price per serving: $0.45

Cost of Nature Valley Protein Bars 15 bars: $11.29

Price per serving: $0.75


It doesn't seem like a big price difference, unless you're eating them almost daily like my wife and I are! Seriously, around 5 bars per week (or more 👀) for each of us.


30 cents saved per bar at 10 per week = $156.00 over the course of the year, plus about 200 square feet worth of plastic wrappers saved. More money can be saved by buying larger packages of inulin and peanuts, and if you use the high protein cereal instead of protein crisps the cost per bar can drop to $0.29 per bar.

 

The savings is even more noticeable with the specialty versions when compared to store bought:

Total cost for 12 bar Keto recipe with C8 MCT and Flax/Hemp blend: $7.14

Price per serving: $0.59


Cost for your average Keto Bar is currently sitting between $7 for a 4 pack to $12 for a 5 pack.

Price per serving: $2.07



Total cost for 12 bar Extra Protein recipe: $7.17

Price per serving: $0.60


Cost for a similar 12-16 gram protein bar is around $8 for 4-7 bars at the cheapest, and the price only goes up from there.

Price per serving: $1.57 minimum



Even though these numbers will likely increase over time, making them yourself will still consistently save money!


What do you think - worth the effort?

 

Comments? Questions? Head on over to The Forum!


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