How many of you have tried powdered peanut butter? Now let me go on the record for stating this – I am a Jif peanut butter girl plain and simple. I prefer the creamy however I can get down with the crunchy in a big way. Mr. Fantabulous oh he’s a crunchy man all the way. The one thing he doesn’t do that I do is eat it off the spoon. That, yeah, that’s my downfall when it comes to peanut butter. And I know, some nut butters are healthier than others but it’s still a ton of calories and fat. And God knows that’s something my thighs don’t need. Well a while back I bought that powdered peanut butter just to see what it’s like, if it tastes like the real stuff but more importantly, how does it handle up to baked goods.
I’ve tried a few brands and I really like the one I listed above. It, when mixed with water, turns out just like “real” peanut butter. It’s creamy and tastes most like the real stuff. So what is powdered peanut butter anyway? It’s essentially just powdered peanuts that have been pressed to remove much of the oil and fats. In the industry they are known as “defatted” peanuts. Hmmm.. can I get defatted??? If only, huh? Anyway you just need a little water to reconstitute it. The amount of water you add will lead you to a super thick spread to a very thin spread. Use your judgement on this.
So why am I babbling on about powdered peanut butter? Well, that’s a key ingredient in these protein bars. I wanted to try to drastically cut the fat and calories. Normally when you make homemade protein bars you add in honey or white sugar but I wasn’t feeling that. Plus I had about half a jar of Brown Rice Syrup that I wanted to use up. Are you familiar with brown rice syrup? Brown rice syrup is an alternative to refined white sugar and artificial sweetener. To make brown rice syrup, brown rice is fermented to break down the starch in the grains, then the liquid is removed and heated until it reaches a syrup-like consistency. Now the downfall of this syrup is that it is higher in sugar so diabetics should watch their consumption of it.
Unlike refined white sugar, which causes your body to work harder to absorb the sucrose, brown rice syrup is able to provide your body with fiber, as well as 3% of your recommended daily intake of sodium and potassium. The slower absorption of the sugars also allows you to maintain your energy helping to prevent the negative effects of sugar including fatigue, irritability and the desire for more sugar. So definitely use in moderation. Now in this recipe you can just substitute in regular honey if you don’t want to use the syrup.
And it wouldn’t be a protein bar without well, protein. Now I’m going to lecture you. If you buy/use protein powder PLEASE (I’m begging here), make sure the FIRST ingredient is ‘whey protein isolate’. – not concentrate, not blend. Whey protein is derived from dairy and is a by-product of the cheese-making process. When raw, whey is loaded with milk, fat and lactose. In order to be a desirable protein, most of this fat and lactose must be removed. This can be done by either concentrating or isolating the whey to a pure form.
The whey concentration process filters the whey down, removing the a good share of the fats and lactose, but not all of it. Further, the quality of the concentration process can vary quite a bit. Ultimately, concentrating protein results in a 70-85% concentration of pure protein. So in a 50-gram serving of whey concentrate, plan on getting 35-42 grams of pure protein. Follow me so far? The whey protein isolation process is much more thorough. It essentially separates the protein, almost in its entirety from the raw whey, resulting in 90-94% pure protein. So in a 50-gram serving of whey protein isolate, plan on getting 45-47 grams of pure protein with the remaining 3-5 grams being perhaps 1 gram of carbs and some calcium, potassium and sodium.
The easiest way to think of whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate is think of them like water. Concentrate is like spring water. It’s natural, pure, filtered but still contains all of the minerals. It’s good but… Now think of Isolate like distilled water. It’s the water in its purest form – hydrogen and oxygen. Period.
So anyway, now that I’ve rambled, let’s talk about these bars. I was in the mood for a new type of snack but I didn’t want cookies or anything that would make my yoga pants hate me even more than they already do but I wanted something that was ‘sweet’. A ‘guilt-free’ treat if you will.
Annnnnnnnnnnnd I didn’t want to turn the oven on. LOL
So these no bake bars were born. Honestly when making these you just keep the basic measurements – equal powdered peanut butter and brown rice syrup, oats and protein. The rest, TOTALLY up to you on what else you want to add in. You can go all nuts (literally), add tons of chocolate chunks, heck you can even add in candied bacon.. but then I can’t say they would be healthy or not. But again, it is bacon just sayin’.
Into my big bowl the oats and dried fruits went along with some slivered almonds. Once the pb mixture was heated all I did was pour it on top of the oats and stir together. Now you’ll notice when you stir this it’s still really loose. Don’t expect it to meld together immediately like say rice krispie treats would. No, the magic happens when you chill them. The mixture is loose which I actually like better that way I can ensure every oat gets coated. If you want to add in chocolate, let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes just to cool down a bit. If you add the chocolate immediately it’ll melt do to you just pouring hot syrup in the bowl. Trust me, I learned the hard way. Yeah… sometimes I question my whole “genius” stigma. LOL
Now when you go to form these you have several options:
♥ Bars – various sizes and widths/thicknesses
♥ Cookie rounds
For me, I like them either as the balls or bars. You need to line a pan with parchment paper first. Do not just grease a pan as these could very well stick to the pan. So parchment, kapeesh? Next if you’re making the bars you need to press them down firmly into the pan. Once you dump your mixture into the parchment lined pan, spread it out with the spatula and then take another piece of sprayed parchment paper and place it sprayed side down on top of the mixture. Then grab a flat pan or something that you can press down firmly on to help compress the bars. You need to compress tightly to get them to hold the shape.
Now if you went with the balls, just grab a bit of the mixture, roll and squeeze tightly as you roll to make the shape.
For me I actually prefer these cold. I like them when they are firmer. If you let them set at room temperature (covered) they will get soft. I took a batch of these to work that I let sit out on my desk. Folks were going nuts over them. They couldn’t believe that they were healthy AND had chocolate AND had ‘peanut butter’ in them!
What I’ll do is make a tray every weekend and then either make them as bars OR roll them into balls. When I’m heading out the door to the gym, I’ll put a few in a container and pop them into my gym bag. They make a healthy and delicious post workout treat!
- 2/3 cup Brown Rice Syrup
- 2/3 cup Powdered Peanut Butter or any powdered peanut butter* or 2/3 cup cream peanut butter
- 1/2 cup water – use ONLY if you’re using powdered peanut butter
- 1 cup brown rice krispies, gluten free
- 5 cups old fashioned oats, toasted or readymade granola (regular or gluten free)
- 1/2 cup vanilla whey protein isolate powder
- 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips or cocoa nibs
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries, raisins or cherries
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds *optional
- In a small sauce pan over medium heat add the brown rice syrup, PB2 and water. If using regular peanut butter, add that but no water, stir and bring to soft boil.
- While the mixture is heating up, line a 9×13” pan with parchment paper and spray. Make sure the parchment extends 1” over the edges as this will make for easy lifting.
- In a large bowl add in the oats, rice krispies, salt, protein powder, dried fruit, salt and almonds; mix to combine.
- Once the syrup mixture comes to a boil, remove from the heat and add in the vanilla. Whisk to combine.
- Pour the syrup over the oat mixture and using a sturdy mixing spoon, stir to coat all pieces.
- Allow to set for about 2 minutes before adding in the chocolate chips stirring just briefly to incorporate. Try not to over mix this otherwise the chips may melt from the stirring.
- Dump the mixture into the baking pan and press down to compact. I actually took another piece of sprayed parchment paper and placed it sprayed side down on top of the granola to help press in place. To get it super compacted I had another 9×13” pan that I sent down on top to help press it in place. You want this tightly compacted so it’ll set.
- Place the pan, uncovered in the fridge for 2-3 hours or until completely chilled.
I also really like this Powdered Peanut Butter!