Protein Packed Energy Bars
As a breastfeeding mama, I need quick and easy snacks at all times to keep the hangry mama at bay. Postpartum hunger is no joke, and tends to sneak up on me. I’ll be slightly hungry one minute and then starving and emotionally batty the next.
High protein, nutritious snacks and meals keep me going the longest without the crash. For me that’s cashews, adding avocado to smoothies, homemade granola bars or grain free muffins, hummus and cut up veggies, etc. We had a few conventional granola bars left over from snacks that someone brought to our house during the move. I had been eating those when I just needed something now, and I could really tell a difference. About 30 minutes later I was just as hungry and even more angry. It's amazing how sensitive my body is now to the sugar spike and crash.
These granola bars are filled with great energy boosting ingredients like nuts, protein powder and chia seeds. I can eat only one and be satisfied for a couple of hours!
These really do need to stay in the freezer, or they will fall apart at room temperature. I’ve found that even straight from the freezer they are soft enough to bite into.
A couple of notes - I like adding protein powder for the extra protein, but if you don't have any on hand, don't stress, they are great without it too. I also listed maple syrup as an optional ingredient since I think the dates add quite a bit of sweetness. Depending on your sweetness tolerance, you can add it or leave it out.
- 1 cup almonds
- 1 cup cashews
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- 8 pitted medjool dates*
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)
- 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
- 1/4 cup maple syrup (optional)
- chocolate chips
*Notes: medjool dates are typically softer and sweeter, and will create the paste I reference in the instructions. If you use dates that are a grocery store brand they tend to be a bit smaller, drier and not as sweet. When blended they will be finely chopped versus creating a gooey paste. Both are fine for this recipe, but thought it was worth mentioning in case you run into that.
In a blender or food processor, add nuts and shredded coconut. Grind until it is a medium fine ground. You don't want chunks of nuts but you also don't want it to be a powder or turn into nut butter!
Pour the nuts into a medium bowl, then blend the dates until it forms a thick paste. Remove the paste to the bowl. Add chia seeds and protein powder to your bowl and mix until well combined. Pour in melted coconut oil and maple syrup (if using) and stir it all together into a dough.
Lay a sheet of parchment paper in a 9x11 glass baking dish, with enough room on the edges to lift it out of the dish once frozen. Spread the dough into the dish and use the back of a spoon and your fingers to smooth it out. Sprinkle some chocolate chips (I used regular size but mini would be great in these!) over the top and lightly press them into the dough.
Put your dish in the freezer for at least an hour. Once frozen, remove and cut into squares, there should be about 15 squares.
How I had Reaghan help
Reaghan is 2.5 and loves to help in the kitchen! With these, I measured out everything and had her pour into the blender or the bowl. She also loves to stir but these are so thick, she had some trouble, so I told her that was a mommy job and had her count out chocolate chips so she could feel involved. I held the bowl of finished dough over the baking dish and she used a spoon to scoop it into the dish. She then sprinkled chocolate chips over the top and I pressed them in! I cut these up into smaller squares for her to eat as a snack or side.
I do think they have a little too much sweetness for right before nap time - but my kiddo is just sensitive! See what works for your child!