Cheap & easy vegan protein bars, made with wholesome natural ingredients and no protein powder! They are gluten-free, oil-free, and can be varied in countless ways.
No matter how many years it’s been since leaving school, late summer will always feel like the start of new year. I imagine I will still be tidying my desk, sharpening some fresh pencils (I love that smell!), and perusing new lunch boxes when I’m ninety, and that is just fine with me.
So, regardless of whether you, or anyone else in your household is in back-to-school mode, ’tis the season (in magazines, cookbooks, and food blogs–mine included) to consider shaking up the packed lunch routine. Cheers!
I’ve posted a number of fresh, healthy vegetable spreads recently, all of which are terrific for crafting vegetable-centric sandwiches or packed dip/vegetable/cracker combinations.
But today, it is a cheap and easy protein bar recipe that has me celebrating the new school year.
These super-filling protein bars are dense and delectable–definitely worthy of breakfast or fitness snack on the go.
- High in protein (9.4 grams of protein–this will vary slightly depending on which nuts/seeds you choose)
- High in fiber
- Vegan (egg-free, dairy-free)
- A good source of B6 vitamins
B6 is especially beneficial for a back-to-school bar: it is needed for proper brain development and function and also helps the body make melatonin, which is important in helping regulate your internal clock (rise and shine, everyone!).
The exact amounts of each ingredient are indicated in the recipe card at the end of the post.
These bars live up to their cheap and easy moniker when it comes to ingredients. No expensive protein powder or other pricey additives, just simple options for any grocery store. Here is what you will need:
- Canned chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)
- Peanut butter, or any nut butter or seed butter you prefer.
- maple syrup,
- Nondairy milk (such as almond milk, oat milk, or cashew milk)
- Rolled oats (certified gluten-free, as needed)
- Assorted chopped nuts or seeds
- Vanilla extract
- Salt (as desired)
How to Make Protein Bars without Protein Powder
Note that the complete directions are also in the recipe card below.
Step One: Preheat Oven and Prepare Pan
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line a 9-inch (22.5 cm) square baking pan with parchment paper. If you are ok with adding a small amount of oil to the recipe, you can choose to spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray, or lightly grease it with the oil of your choice.
In a food processor or blender, process the chickpeas, milk, bananas, peanut butter, maple syrup and vanilla until blended and completely smooth. Transfer mixture into a large bowl.Add the oats and nuts to the bowl, stirring until completely blended. Scrape batter to prepared pan, smoothing the top.Bake bars in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes until deep golden brown and edges appear somewhat crispy. Place on a cooling rack and cool completely. Remove from pan and cut into 16 equal bars or squares.
Step Two: Blend the Liquid Ingredients
Step Three: Add the Oats and Nuts/Seeds
Transfer the liquid mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the oats and nuts to the bowl, stirring until completely blended. Scrape the batter to prepared pan, smoothing the top.
Step Four: Bake the Protein Bars
Bake bars in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes until deep golden brown and edges appear somewhat crispy.
Step Five: Cool the Protein Bars
Place on a cooling rack and cool completely. Remove from pan and cut into 16 equal bars or squares.
Step Six: Cut into Bars
Cut into bars or squares, and you are done! You can add some chopped dried fruit or chocolate chips if you like, or add about a teaspoon of your favorite spice. The possibilities for variation are vast.
How to Store Homemade Protein Bars
Store the cooled, cut bars in an airtight container at room temperature for five days, the refrigerator for two weeks, or the freezer for up to three months.
Option: Make Nut-Free Protein Bars
You can keep these 100% nut free if your child’s school has school-wide nut restrictions: use sunflower seed butter or tahini in place of the peanut butter and all seeds (e.g., pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, hemp hearts).