When I was first learning how to refuel my body after a workout, I would grab whatever snack was available in the gym’s vending machine. At the time, no one told me that reading the ingredients was very important; it was 2009, and everyone was still on the low-fat diet craze. Clearly the gym I was a member of didn’t know any better, or just didn’t care.
I remembering gobbling down the bars with weird ingredients: crunchy rice, fake fiber and sugar, and most likely a terrible protein source. Shortly after the bars with insane amounts of fiber came on the scene; they were filled with fiber that isn’t even found in nature, but rather made in a lab. Those sketchy mofos.
Now I’m a little more educated on what I choose to put in my body. My favorite protein bar? RX BAR. No they don’t pay me to say that, I’m just truly obsessed with their bars and eat them for a post workout snack almost daily.
But what’s a girl to do when she doesn’t have a box of bars lying around, or if she wants to save a little money?
Well it’s simple: Make these homemade no bake peanut butter protein bars packed with real, wholesome ingredients and an excellent ratio of fats, fiber and carbs. AKA perfect for post workout, or a quick on the go snack. Each bar contains nearly 10g of protein.
Anyway, now that I’ve got you here, let’s discuss some of my favorite ingredients in these peanut butter protein bad boys.
Yes, I just called my protein bars bad boys. Cause they are. Anyway, here we go:
Peanut butter: The main ingredient in this recipe is peanut butter. Granted you can absolutely use a different nut butter — especially if you are allergic to peanuts. Sunflower seed butter would be wonderful for the kiddo’s lunch boxes too! The important thing to remember is to use a drippy nut butter — one made with just nuts (or seeds) and salt. You don’t need anything else.
Coconut oil: This helps the bars stay moist and chewy with the addition of peanut butter. Also it helps the bars set up nice and offers the addition of healthy fats and flavor (hello a hint of coconut!).
Vanilla protein powder: I love me some ‘nilla protein powder and especially love sharing how it can be used in things other than smoothies. My favorite whey protein brands are Tera’s Whey and Bob’s Red Mill. For plant based/vegan, I like Aloha and Bob’s Red Mill.
Oats: For a nice chewy texture! Don’t forget them. Also, be sure to use gluten free certified oats if you’re GF.
Dried fruit: I used dried cherries in this recipe but I think you could go with whatever is your favorite — chopped dried figs, dates, dried blueberries (MY FAV). Go crazy.
Chia seeds: This adds a boost of fiber, protein, omega 3 and crunch. I’m in love.
Coconut: A boost of flavor and healthy fat. Buy the unsweetened kind here!
Chocolate: Do it up with that drizzle.
These bars are seriously unreal, and I love the fact that you can totally make them your own. So what are you waiting for? Time to whip up a batch.
See how to make the peanut butter protein bars:
More healthy snack recipes to try:
If you make this recipe, be sure to leave a comment below and rate the recipe! You can also snap and picture and post it on Instagram using the hashtag #ambitiouskitchen. And of course be sure to follow Ambitious Kitchen on Instagram. xo!
Coconut & Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter (just peanuts + salt)
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1/3 cup honey (use coconut palm syrup if vegan)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup vanilla protein powder*
- 1 cup oats
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 2 tablespoons chocolate chips + 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- Optional: 1/3 cup dried tart cherries (or dried fruit of choice)
- Optional: 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- Fancy sea salt, for sprinkling
Heat peanut butter, coconut oil, honey and vanilla in a saucepan over low heat. Mix together until well combined and smooth, then remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl.
Stir in protein powder until smooth, then fold in oats, dried cherries, chia seeds, and coconut flakes. Place in a 8x4 inch loaf pan lined with parchment paper.
Add chocolate chips and coconut in a small saucepan and place over low heat until melted. Drizzle over the tops of the bars. Sprinkle with sea salt.
Place in fridge for 1 hour before removing from pan and cutting into 10 bars or squares. Store bars in fridge tightly wrapped or in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Nutrition info does not include dried fruit or shredded coconut, but does include chocolate.
*Feel free to use a vanilla protein powder. I like to use whey protein powder. My favorites are Bob's Red Mill and Tera's Whey. For plant-based, I like Aloha's Vanilla protein powder.
*To keep these bars vegan: Use a vegan protein powder and coconut palm syrup or brown rice syrup instead of honey.