I like the idea of protein bars because they are easy to eat on the run and theoretically, they make a healthy snack before or after exercise.

What I don’t generally like is how most of them taste, the ingredients they contain, or their prices.

There are definitely some exceptions (Lara bars, for example), but many so-called healthy energy bars are made with low quality ingredients such as soy protein isolate; they also often contain trans-fats.

Homemade protein bars (aka homemade granola bars), on the other hand, can be packed with nutrient-dense ingredients. They are also super easy to make. This healthy protein bar recipe is so simple to add to or change–just use your imagination to create your favorite customized healthy protein bars.

Recipe for Homemade Protein Bars

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

*3 cups organic raw oats
*1/2 cup whole sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, or hemp seeds
*1/2 cup unsweetened organic shredded coconut (I prefer this one)
*1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1 teaspoon Himalayan salt or sea salt
*1/4 cup organic brown sugar
*1 cup Greek yogurt, preferably organic (I use plain; vanilla would make the bars a little sweeter)
*1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or honey, preferably local/raw
*1 cup organic peanut butter (or use almond butter or the nut/seed butter of your choice)
*1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
*1/4 cup organic coconut oil, liquified if solid (coconut oil will be solid at room temperature in cooler weather...this one's my favorite)
*1/2 cup chopped organic dark chocolate or chocolate chips (70% dark (or more) is the healthiest; use fair-trade chocolate, possible)
*1/2 cup chopped seeds or nuts or a combination ex. sunflower, pumpkin, or sesame seeds or almonds, walnuts or pecans (or use additional peanut or other nut butter)
*1/2 cup chopped dates, raisins, figs or other dried fruit--optional (if you want the bars sweeter but you don't want to add more sweetener; I don't typically add these)
*up to 1 cup vanilla or chocolate whey protein powder--optional (go with 1 cup if you want the bars to have significant protein content; use 1/2 cup or omit if you dislike the taste or the idea of protein powders; I am not a big protein powder fan, but Garden of Life Raw Protein is the one I like for this purpose

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with a little coconut oil or organic butter.

2. Combine dry ingredients (oats through brown sugar) in a large bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients (Greek yogurt through coconut oil).

4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined, and then mix in the chocolate.

5. Taste a little of the homemade protein bar mixture. Is it tasty? You can add more peanut butter or the optional nuts at this point if you like. Is it sweet enough? If not, you can add some additional sweetener or some of the optional dried fruit. Now is also the time to add in the protein powder if you are going to use it. Mix well using very clean hands (warning--it will be sticky!)

6. Spread the mixture into your prepared dish and bake for 15 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven, let them cool a little, and then slice the bars as you desire. Your homemade protein bars can be sliced into squares, or into the more typical bar shape you would purchase, if you prefer. Spread the bars out onto a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes more. Allow to cool, and then wrap and store in the refrigerator.

Enjoy as a healthy snack anytime.