Being athletic and living an active lifestyle, I’m always on the lookout for unique and plant based snack 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 that’s high in protein, filling, and satisfying to me 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! Keep reading to learn about the nutrition in these homemade protein bars and get the recipe!
There’s something about the main ingredients in this bar–chocolate, nuts, and dried fruit–that are such a lovely combination of sweet, crunchy, chewy, and creamy. I’m calling these superfood bars because of the super nutrition from the nutrient dense, plant based proteins in the ingredients. 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 offer an added bonus of no cooking necessary! 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 found in 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 contributes 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 which add an amazing flavor combination as well! Dried tart cherries and dates contribute their wonderful flavors of sweet/tart, and also are responsible for the bars’ chewiness. And they act as the binding agent that keeps it all together and bar-like! 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 most often loaded with refined sugars and either lack fiber or add in harsh fibers. They also 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 used in protein bars comes 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 (read more about my favorite sources here), 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 of protein. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, and works really well when using in baked goods, cookies, and these raw bars! Many 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 Larabars when creating this one!
Ways to enjoy: Of course, I made these into bars 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 Milke Ice Cream. You can also enjoy them 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 them in half to make it into a snack size friendly amount. Keep in mind, all of our caloric needs are different, so let’s focus a bit more on the goodness of nutrients in these bars more than the numbers!
- DRY //
- 1 1/2 cup hemp protein powder, chocolate flavor (or original just add more cocoa)
- 1/2 cup hemp hearts, shelled
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup walnuts, ground into a coarse flour
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, whole
- 1/4 cup chia seeds, ground
- 1/4 cup dried mulberries
- 2 tablespoons cacao nibs (optional)
- 2 tablespoons spirulina powder
- 1/4 teaspoon pink himalayan sea salt
- dash of ground cinnamon
- WET //
- 1 1/2-2 cups dates, about 20 pitted
- 1/2 cup dried tart cherries
- 5 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 1 heaping tablespoon almond butter
- 1/2 cup water (start with 1/4 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 1/4 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 8×8 or 9×9 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 one time and keep some in the fridge for quick snacking and store the others in the freezer for a later day. Simply wrap the bars individually in clear wrap or parchment and then place into an airtight glass container or Ziploc storage bag in the freezer. They last well and are quick to thaw, but you can also pop these into a toaster oven or microwave for 30 seconds or less and get them warm and 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, so nothing will spoil if you’re bringing it with you to work, 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
- Almond Butter Energy Balls
- Chewy Coconut and Fruit Bars