Monday, March 8, 2010

Nutty Chocolate Coconut Protein Bars

I've been getting into this Primal Blueprint stuff, so I whipped up some protein bars this weekend, borrowing (and slightly modifying) a recipe from Mark's Daily Apple:
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) toasted slivered almonds (Trader Joe's sells 'em, or you can toast some almonds yourself in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally)
  • 1/2 cup (42 g) pecans (toasted or not)
  • 1/4 cup (15 g) unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup (65 g) almond butter
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) coconut oil (available at Whole Foods or your local health food store)
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) almond meal (I got some at Trader Joe's, but you can make your own by using a food processor)
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) protein powder (I used Muscle Milk's Protein+ Chocolate Shake powder)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons egg white
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened pure cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (75 g) dark chocolate chips (the higher the cocoa content, the better -- shoot for over 60%)
Using a baking sheet, toast the shredded coconut in a preheated 325 degree oven for about 5 minutes or until golden brown, stirring/shaking occasionally. Take the coconut out, but keep your oven on. (You'll need it later.)

While you're toasting the coconut, put the coconut oil and almond butter in a large bowl and nuke it in the microwave for 30 seconds or so. Take it out and add the vanilla extract and salt. Stir the mixture until smooth.

Pulse the slivered almonds, pecans and toasted coconut in a food processor until they're the consistency of coarse bread crumbs.

Combine these "crumbs" with the almond meal, ground flax seed, protein powder and cocoa powder, and fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Then, mix in the egg and egg white. Stir in the chocolate chips, too.

Press/flatten the mixture into a 4 by 8 loaf pan, making sure it's evenly distributed. Then stick it in the preheated 325 degree oven for 10 or 12 minutes.

(Optional: After the pan comes out of the oven, sprinkle some more coconut and chocolate chips on top. Place the pan under the broiler for 2 minutes or until the coconut is golden brown.)

Let the pan cool to room temperature, and then cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it. (The bars hold together better when they're cold.) Cut into 12 pieces.

Each bar is kind of tiny, but chock-full of protein and good fats, low on carbs, and surprisingly filling. Plus, I'm digging the chocolatey, sweet-but-slightly-salty flavor.