Being athletic and living an active lifestyle, I’m always on the lookout for unique and plant-based friendly products catered towards protein density- I haven’t found too many on the market that I enjoy consuming on a daily basis just yet… so I created my own! Chewy Superfood Hemp Protein Bars have become one of my favorite go-to snacks or desserts when I’m on the go or simply want something high in protein, filling, and it satisfies my sweet tooth at the same time (win win). These protein bars are not like your standard protein bars that you find in most grocery stores, they contain only whole food ingredients that you and I both can find in our pantry!
There’s something about the main ingredients in this bar chocolate, nuts, and dried fruit that’s such a lovely combination between sweet, crunchy, chewy, and creamy. Superfoods = super nutrition from the nutrient dense plant-based proteins found in this bar. One of the superfoods I use are cherries, which happen to be one of my favorite fruits because of their anti-inflammatory power and culinary use in both sweet and savory dishes. Several other ingredients in this bar serve as binding ingredients to make this recipe super simple to make…and an added bonus, no cooking! These are all raw with no fuss of baking.
These are super special protein bars… and no I’m not talking about special brownies containing the other form of hemp, these Chewy Superfood Hemp Protein Bars are loaded with the powerful plant-based proteins, hemp seeds and hemp powder. Hemp isn’t the only contributing protein player here, spirulina adds a nutty flavor to these protein bars as well as contributing 8 grams of protein to the entire recipe. These protein bars are chewy, but have hints of crunch from the pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs, and dried mulberries– an amazing flavor combination as well! Dried tart cherries and dates for perfect for this recipe for their wonderful flavors of sweet/tart, and also for their chewiness to act as a binding agent in these protein bars. As you can see, these bars are loaded with heaps of nutrients, plant-proteins, fiber, omega-3 fats, and good carbohydrates.
Why make homemade protein bars? The answer to this question could be an entire post in itself, but I’ll spare you the minute details and break it down. Typically store bought protein bars most often are candy bars in disguise- they’re loaded with refined sugars, lack fiber or harsh fibers are added into it, they contain hydrogenated oils (especially in the coatings), artificial flavors, preservatives, and not to mention the main source of proteins used are whey. I don’t have it out for whey just because I practice a dairy-free lifestyle, but what I don’t like is the source and quality of whey used in most protein bar brands out there. Most whey is coming from highly produced factory farmed dairy in comparison to what would be an ideal source, from a farmer givin’ those animals love!
There are many plant-based proteins I enjoy using (stay tuned for a guide this week!), but hemp protein has a couple unique characteristics that make it perfect for use in recipes other than protein shakes/smoothies. In one serving of hemp protein there is roughly 20g, it also contains omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and works really well when using in baked goods, cookies, and these raw bars! Many of the store bought plant-based protein bars don’t utilize hemp protein as much as I wish they would; but nonetheless I’ve been inspired by raw date and nut bars on the shelves, such as Larabar, to create this one!
Ways to enjoy | of course I made these into bars for a reason, for a quick to grab-n-go snack but you can easily chop these bars into bite sized pieces for a decadent dessert topping on BanaNO Cream or Coconut Ice Cream, with almond milk or on your favorite yogurt. These bars are nutrient dense and calorically dense so feel free to use this as a meal on the go or cut in half to make it into a snack size friendly amount. Keep in mind, all of our caloric needs are different, let’s focus a bit more on the goodness of nutrients in these bars more than the numbers!
- DRY //
- 1½ cup hemp protein powder, chocolate flavor (or original just add more cocoa)
- ½ cup hemp hearts, shelled
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- ½ cup walnuts, ground into a coarse flour
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds, whole
- ¼ cup chia seeds, ground
- ¼ cup dried mulberries
- 2 tablespoons cacao nibs (optional)
- 2 tablespoons spirulina powder
- ¼ teaspoon pink himalayan sea salt
- dash of ground cinnamon
- WET //
- 1½-2 cups dates, about 20 pitted
- ½ cup dried tart cherries
- 5 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 1 heaping tablespoon almond butter
- ½ cup water (start with ¼ and add gradually)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- DRY //
- Coarsely grind walnuts and chia seeds. Pour into a large mixing bowl and combine all remaining dry ingredients (hemp powder, seeds, cocoa, pumpkin seeds, mulberries, cacao nibs, and seasonings). Set aside.
- Combine all wet ingredients in a high speed blender or food processor. This mixture is very thick and sticky so you'll need a powerful kitchen appliance or mix in small batches. Start with ¼ cup of water in this mixture.
- Pour wet ingredients into the large mixing bowl with dry ingredients. This is where you can adjust the water and pay close attention to how much you use.
- Using your hands (the best tools for this!), massage and combine the mixture until everything has come together to form a large ball.
- If the mixture gets too wet, simply add more cocoa or hemp protein powder. If the mixture isn't wet enough, try adding more coconut oil or a few more dates. The desired texture is a thick, chewy, sticky bar.
- In a 8x8 or 9x9 inch parchment lined pan, evenly spread the protein bar mixture into the pan. Using your hands and fingertips firmly press the mixture into an even layer until it's even and smooth on top.
- Chill for at least 2 hours in the fridge.
- Cut into small pieces or 12 whole bars.
- Keep some for later in the freezer by wrapping individually in clear wrap or keep in the fridge for later use that week.
FUN FACT // have you ever noticed the majority of my carbohydrate rich or simple sugar rich recipes I often add cinnamon alongside? There’s a reason for this! Cinnamon is great for blood sugar regulation and it tastes delicious.
TIPS // I purposefully make larger batches of this recipe at a time and keep some in the fridge for quick snacking and I store the others in the freezer for a later day. Simply wrap the bars individually in clear wrap or parchment and then place into a tupperware or ziploc storage bag in the freezer. They last well and are quick to thaw- you can also pop these into a toaster oven or microwave for 30 seconds or less and get them nice and warm/soft!
Also note, if you’re on the go, these are perfectly fine to keep at room temperature! It’s only dried fruits, nuts, seeds, and coconut oil, nothing will spoil if you’re bringing it with you to work, to school, the office, etc. Simply store it in a ziploc bag or wrap tightly with clear wrap.
I hope you all enjoy these natural homemade protein bars, leave your comments in the section below of how you like them! What other protein bars or remakes of protein bars would you like to see recreated and developed here on Nutrition Stripped?
If you enjoyed this blog post, you’ll love these:
- Plant based protein, part I and 2
- 10 plant based proteins you should be eating
- What is a plant based lifestyle?