As much as I wish I could eat sweets all day, I understand that it’s probably a good idea to eat something good for me every once in a while. In my dessert addicted mind, I like to believe that healthy foods will counterbalance all the cakes and cookies I eat. I mean if I eat a healthy dinner of wild salmon and roasted vegetables that totally negates the giant slice of pound cake I eat after…….right??? Maybe??? Okay, so I know that’s not how it works, but it would be nice if it did.
Eating healthy has been on my mind lately for a couple of reasons. The first is because I’m testing so many recipes for the business that I’m eating more sweets than I usually do. I know……I didn’t think that was possible either, but apparently it is and it’s not as fun as I thought it would be. The other reason I’m on a health-kick is because I recently started training for the Half Marathon I’m running in July. This will be the sixth Half I’ve run and I’m really hoping to PR, which means I need to train hard and eat right.
My attitude towards food changes a bit when I’m in training. Instead of just eating whatever is around, I actually put a little thought into what I’m eating and why I’m eating it. This might sound a little cheesy, but bear with me here……..during training, I look at food as fuel to boost my running performance and to help keep me healthy and fit. Ughhh…..I can’t believe I just wrote that, but it’s true! I guess it’s time to admit my other deep, dark nerdy secret. I love reading about nutrition and how eating certain foods before and after a run can help improve my overall fitness. I think it’s fascinating to read why the ideal post-long run recovery meal has a carbs to protein ration of 4:1. And I also think it’s pretty cool to read how tart cherries help to reduce muscle soreness. What can I say…….I’ve got some nerdish tendencies and I embrace every one of them.
One of my favorite things to make when I’m in training is Homemade Peanut Butter Protein Bars. I’m always trying to find ways to sneak more protein into my diet (I don’t eat a lot of meat) and these bars are the perfect way to do that. They’re packed with protein, super filling, can be easily customized and, most importantly, taste crazy good. Oh and I almost forgot to mention, they’re also Gluten-Free! I’ve had a lot of requests for GF recipes, so I’m stoked to finally be able to share one.
The recipe for these protein bars originally came from my boyfriend’s Dad. He found the recipe in Mountain Flyer magazine and instinctively knew it was something Boyfriend and I would love to make. The original recipe is fantastic, but we tweaked it to make it a little healthier and more to our liking. We can’t get enough of these bars and make them constantly during the summer. They’re great as a post-workout snack or to take as fuel for long hikes and bike rides. They are kind of filling and can easily be eaten as a meal replacement as well. Personally, I love to eat them as a quick healthy breakfast on busy mornings.
I really hope you guys love these protein bars as much as we do. They can be adapted in a multitude of ways, so feel free to get creative and come up with your absolute perfect combination. If you’re not a fan of Peanut Butter, use Almond Butter! If you want to add a little extra fiber to the bars, swap out the Rice Puffs for Kamut Puffs (please note Kamut is not GF friendly). My favorite way to make the bars is with crunchy peanut butter, rice protein powder, dried tart cherries, and toasted pecans. So get in the kitchen and get crazy and feel good knowing that you’re making something healthy and nutritious!
Peanut Butter Protein Bars
Makes 10 – 15 bars
Adapted from a recipe in Mountain Flyer
2 ½ cups natural peanut butter
2 cups honey
2 cups vanilla flavored protein powder
3 cups rice puffs
½ cup chopped nuts
½ cup dried fruit
¼ cup flax meal
In a very large bowl (trust me, you wanna go as big as you can with this one), mix together the protein powder, rice puffs, nuts, dried fruit, and flax meal. Set aside.
Place the peanut butter and honey in a large saucepan. Over low heat, stir until smooth and very well combined. You want to heat the PB and honey mixture to the point where it looks a little runny. If you don’t do this, the next step might not be so fun.
Add the peanut butter and honey mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until completely combined. This step takes a little arm power and some patience. It helps if you think of it as an arm workout. The batter is pretty stiff, so just dip deep and power through the stirring!
Pour the batter into an ungreased 9×13 pan and press into an even layer. Let the bars cool and set up for about an hour. Then slice bars into desired size. These bars can be stored, individually wrapped in plastic wrap, either in the fridge or at room temperature.