One of my staple foods, besides cheese, is bars. Granola bars, nut bars, fig bars, you name it. They're just so easy, and I fancy them a healthy snack choice. I've added protein bars to the bar repertoire, though they taste like frozen chalk blocks half the time. But hey, I'm aiming for some serious muscle tone, folks. And when I'm in a training cycle or climbing more than usual, I like to up my protein intake to make sure I'm fueling my body for full recovery.
Yet recently we've seen some reports detailing negative side effects from too much protein. Weight gain, dehydration, even kidney complications can result from too many scoops of that vanilla pro-pow. The whole protein health phenomenon was a pendulum swing from too many carbohydrates in the American diet. Carbs bad, protein good, the health advice went for awhile. Then boom, we're seeing increased heart disease and even cancer linked to too much protein in the diet.
I'm not one who likes to do math when thinking about food, unless it's adding up how many grapes I can toss in the air and catch in my mouth. But what the hell. Let's look at some numbers and see if these protein bars should even have a place on the daily menu.
The Institute of Medicine recommends .8 grams of protein per day per kilogram. With this in mind, the average Jane needs 46 grams of protein a day, while your Joe Smoe needs 56. If a couple of eggs have 12gs total, your turkey sandwich offers a whooping 28gs, and a tofu curry comes in at 10gs or more per serving, then you're already well on your way to the recommended daily grammage, lady or gentleman.
If you're an athlete, and/or you're aiming for some more muscle like your girl here, the American College of Sports Medicine thinks 1 to 2 grams per kilogram of body weight will do you good. I weigh about 62 kilograms, which would require me eating 62-124 grams per day. Holy cow. That's, like, four eggs, two turkey sandwiches, and enough tofu curry to keep me farting for weeks.
Well, if I want muscles like Becky Switzer, I'm gonna be upping my protein and pray I don't overdo it and end up like this guy. And while I aim to get the vast majority of those grams from real, whole foods, I'm not opposed to the protein pow. There's a lot of great brands these days that make their powders from whole foods. (I made the recipe below with Sunwarrior's Warrior blend. No, they're not paying me to write that.)
ANYWHO, you can always omit the protein pow in the recipe and add in more oatmeal-meal instead. But for the record, each bar comes in at about 10gs of protein. So watch out, B-Switz. I'm gonna eat, like, a whole pan of these a day.
Homemade Protein Bars
What You'll Need
1 C Dates, soaked in water for at least an hour so you don't cause your food processor to smoke like I did
1/2 C Oats
1/2 C Almond Butter
1/3 C Protein Powder
1/4 C Cocoa Powder
1 T Chia Seeds (optional; extra--guess what?--yep, protein and some calcium, too, which is like, whatever, compared to protein)
1 t Cinnamon (apparently good for inflammation)
1 t Vanilla
1/4 t Salt
What You'll Do
1. Put oats in food processor and let 'er rip until the oatmeal becomes more meal than oat. I left my "flour" on the chunky side. Place oatmeal-meal in a separate bowl.
2. Now it's the dates' turn, which requires stopping the processor on occasion and using a spatula to scrap the date puree down so the goo is as uniformly gooish as possible.
3. Now I just added all the things, from the oatmeal-meal to the salt, and let the processor do its magic. 'Cause seriously, it's magic, and if you don't own a food processor YOU NEED TO BUY ONE ASAP.
4. Okay, now take that giant ball of protein bar dreams and flatten it into a pan. I used an 8 X 8 brownie dish.
5. Place dish filled with SDEPDTDSSM protein bars in the freezer and do your thing for a half hour while they set.
6. Cut into squares and wrap separately. I used baking parchment paper and shipping tape, but foil, plastic bags, etc.. will do the trick. I also made little labels for mine 'cause I'm a FREAK for stamps and I use them whenever possible. Keep the bars in the refrigerator.