Here it is, fall, and I’m sharing a recipe with the bright, sunny flavors of a tropical island.
But it’s not just any recipe. It’s a 4-ingredient protein bar recipe that takes mere minutes to make, costs little, and shakes up your lunch box (or breakfast or fitness snack) routine with something fresh and delicious that you actually want to eat.
You can opt to gussy them up, too, for some eye-candy appeal. Take that, packaged bars!
In place of the oats typically found in DIY protein and energy bars (including many of my own!), I decided to try unsweetened flake coconut, very finely ground, to make a key component of the dough.
My first test batch turned to glop–delicious glop, but definitely glop–because I over-processed the coconut shreds; the oils began to release from the coconut and form butter. It could be a delicious base for another recipe, but not what I was going for here.
With a few more tests, I got the ratios where I wanted them, producing a creamy, pliable dough, and it only took 4 ingredients to achieve it: the coconut, some vanilla vegan protein powder, limes, and smooth nut butter.
All modesty aside, they are pretty great.
Vegan protein powders can taste dull and chalky. If you use them, too, you know I speak the truth :). But add some lime zest and lime juice–lots of both–and it is transformed into a treat.
And the undercurrent of coconut throughout? Pure yum. And pure nutrition, too. The fat in coconut flesh is an outstanding source of instant fuel (it’s all abut those medium chain fatty acids) as well appetite suppressant, elevating these bars far beyond any protein bars you can buy off of the shelf.
You can use any vegan vanilla protein powder you choose, but I will mention that I used a vanilla flavored, stevia-sweetened pea protein powder. You may need to tweak the amounts of liquids and protein powder a touch, but not much; these are almost completely foolproof!
Happy Monday, everyone, and here’s to a great, nutrition-packed, high-energy week!
- 2 medium limes
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes/shreds
- ½ cup vanilla vegan protein powder
- 2 tablespoons almond butter
- Optional toppings:
- 1 tablespoon white chocolate baking chips, melted
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut flakes/shreds, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon finely grated lime zest
- Grate enough zest from the limes to measure 2 teaspoons.
- Halve the limes crosswise and squeeze the juice into a glass measuring cup. Add enough water to the juice to measure ½ cup in total.
- In a food processor, process the coconut until very fine. Add the protein powder, almond butter, lime zest, and lime juice-water mixture. Pulse until mixture is completely blended into a smooth dough.
- Roll dough into a log and cut into 5 equal pieces. Form each piece into a bar and tightly wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least1 hour until firm.
- Optional topping: If desired, unwrap the bars and drizzle each with melted white chocolate; sprinkle with coconut and lime zest. Refrigerate for 15 minutes until chocolate is set; then re-wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Almond butter subs: You can use any smooth nut or seed butter you like in place of the almond butter. These are also amazing with peanut butter.
Notes about protein powder: I used vanilla pea protein powder, which is sweetened with stevia. Tweak the ratios of all of the ingredients as needed, as protein powders vary from one brand and variety to another.