No-bake, quick & easy, vegan protein bars (more than 13 grams protein per bar), with two Middle Eastern flavor twists: tahini & cardamom. They are as delicious as they are nutrient dense!
Good morning everyone, I hope your Monday is treating you well so far!
I am starting this week with a delicious homemade protein bar that I devised last week, and devoured in the days to follow.
The recipe is as easy as can be, and made with familiar ingredients, but the flavor profile is decidedly less familiar for protein bars.
Say hello to my Tahini & Cardamom Protein Bars.
Halvah, the Middle Eastern confection made from tahini, sugar, vanilla and spices, was my inspiration…after the fact. What really prompted the making of these bars was (a) wanting to make some homemade protein bars, and (2) realizing I was out of all other nut and seed butter, save for some bottom-of-the-jar scrapings.
But I had tahini in both the refrigerator and pantry. If I can make bars with almond, peanut or sunflower seed butter, why not tahini?
Why not, indeed.
Here’s how they are made. Place all of the ingredients (vanilla vegan protein powder, ground oats, tahini, maple syrup & cardamom), save for the water, in a bowl.
Stir with gusto (it will be stiff), adding a few drops of water, if needed (it will vary from one protein powder brand to another), until what results is a thick, cohesive dough.
Press the dough into a parchment paper-lined 9×5-inch loaf pan. I like to put a second piece of paper on top of the dough and then press down with a second loaf pan (same size, or smaller); it makes it easier to tamp down and even out the dough.
If you’re in a hurry go ahead and remove the bars from the pan, using the parchment, and immediately cut into bars. If you have time, go ahead and refrigerate the bars for an hour (or more) before doing so (they will be firmer and less sticky, making them easier to cut).
That’s it! Six protein-packed, plant-based bars, free of fillers and ready for power eating on the go.
Each bar has over 13 grams of protein per bar. Granted, this will vary slightly, depending on the brand of vegan protein powder you choose, but the tahini adds substantial protein, too. Tahini is 20% complete protein, making it a higher protein source than most nuts. Plus, it is rich in healthy fats, minerals (including potassium & iron), B vitamins and vitamin E.
If you do not have cardamom on hand, try an equal amount of cinnamon, ginger or allspice in its place. One teaspoon may sound like a lot, but it is just the right amount to get a subtle yet still distinct flavor. If you want even more flavor, zest your lemon (or lime) before juicing it, and add the zest to the bars. I did so on a later batch and it is heavenly!
These will keep for a long time, but it’s somewhat irrelevant; you, and any other members of your household, will gobble them up soon after making them!
- ⅔ cup (about 67 g) vegan vanilla protein powder
- ½ cup tahini (well-stirred before measuring)
- ⅓ cup rolled oats, ground into a fine flour
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- Water (as needed)
- Line a 9x5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the protein powder, tahini, oats, maple syrup, lemon juice and cardamom, adding a few drops of water, as needed. Stir until the mixture is a stiff dough.
- Gather the dough together and evenly press into the prepared pan. Place another piece of parchment or wax paper onto surface of dough; firmly tamp down with your hand, a second loaf pan or a measuring cup.
- Refrigerate for about 1 hour (to firm up) before removing from pan and cutting into 6 bars.
Sweetener: If you are not strictly vegan, honey is delicious and flavorful option in place of maple syrup.
Variation: Add up to 1 tablespoon of finely grated lemon or lime zest to the dough, along with the cardamom.