Meet your new favorite homemade chocolate power bars! Here’s why you will want to make these:
*Real cocoa powder
*No added sugar
*No nuts or soy
*Extremely fast to make
*Extremely easy to make
*Super-Nutritious (omega-3 fatty acids, high in antioxidants, high fiber, good source of protein)
Do I have your attention?
It’s no secret that I like to dabble in the making of homemade protein and energy bars. Given that I love to run–long distances, and after a certain 4-year-old, they are an indispensable part of my daily diet. Additionally, my weight-lifting, professor-ing husband likes to eat them post-workout or pre-class, But the high cost and/or whack-o ingredients of so many ready-made bars makes me crazy.
The answer was in my pantry: Black Beans. I know, I know, you’ve likely seen one of the many black bean brownie recipes floating around the web. You may have tried them. The experience was likely followed by disappointment, nausea, and a walk to the garbage disposal. I’ve made one or two edible versions, but they were not worth making again: they looked great, but tasted dreadful. The texture is particularly off, and I think the problem is the baking of the beans, which yields a leaden consistency reminiscent of modeling clay.
With that in mind, the solution presented itself: nix the baking. My favorite homemade energy bars are Lara bars, which are simply molded from fruits and nuts. Why not do the same with the black bean mixture. I grabbed the food processor and beans and set to work.
Unsweetened cocoa powder was a must for deep chocolate flavor; in went 1/3 cup. Next up sweetness: I considered honey or agave, but went instead with some moist dates (which add caramel-like undertones), and the sweetness (stevia) from the all-natural vegan protein powder.
The protein powder provides some of the texture, as do ground oats. I opted against nuts, since they are pricey, and also to make these bars accessible to those with nut allergies (such as my sister). If you want to add more protein and texture, though, you could knead in some chopped nuts or seeds to the finished “dough”.
Finally, added flavor: a hefty dose of vanilla and an optional sprinkle of cocoa powder.
Make a batch of these bars today and feel the power!
A few notes about the ingredients:
(1) Unseasoned Black Beans: by “unseasoned” beans, I simply mean avoid beans seasoned with chili powder, jalapenos, etc. I don’t mean salt-free. You’ll rinse away most of the salt when you rinse the beans, and the little bit of salt is need to bring out the flavor of the chocolate
(2) Protein Powder: I used a vegan protein powder here (specifically, pea protein). If you use whey protein powder with the recipe as written, the bars will be gooey and will not be form enough to form bars. You can still use whey protein, but you’ll need to up the amount of ground oats (about 2/3 cup more oats, depending on the type of whey powder; add enough until dough comes together).
- 1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned rolled oats (GF, if needed)
- 1 15-oz can unseasoned black beans, drained and rinsed
- ⅓ cup (packed) moist dates (or raisins or prunes)
- ¾ cup all-natural, sweetened chocolate or vanilla vegan protein powder
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 to 4 tablespoons nondairy or dairy milk (more if needed)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Optional: more cocoa powder
- Line a 9x5-inch loaf pan with foil or plastic wrap, leaving about 6 inches of overhand on each lengthwise side; lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Process the oats in a food processor until it is a fine powder; transfer to a bowl.
- Add the beans, dates, vanilla, protein powder, cocoa powder and milk to the food processor until very smooth. Add the ground oats. Pulse until mixture is well-blended and comes together to form a dough.
- Transfer mixture to prepared pan; wrap the overhang lining over bars and pres to flatten. refrigerate for 1 hour then remove and cut into bars. Sprinkle with cocoa powder, If desired. Individually wrap bars and store in refrigerator for up to 1 week.
2. Optional Chocolate Topping: If desired, place the chocolate chips in a sandwich size plastic bag (do not seal). Microwave on HIGH 1-2 minutes, stopping to squeeze occasionally, until melted. Push melted chocolate towards one corner of bag. Snip off small tip at the corner and pipe chocolate over bars. Chill about 15 minutes to set chocolate. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in a sealed plastic storage bag.
3. Freeze: These bars freeze very nicely; wrap securely in foil, then place in heavy-duty-zipper top bag or a lidded container. Freeze for up to 1 month. Defrost at room temperature for about 30 minutes.