I have a sneaking suspicion that a great many of you are focusing on healthy eating with renewed vigor. Am I right? Of course, if you’re changing up your routine, it can quickly become overwhelming. (Especially if you’re not accustomed to cooking all of your meals, and are now making an effort to do so – I feel ya there!)
Something that helps immensely to keep me on track with healthy eating is to prepare things in advance. Sunday afternoon is my “prep” time – I go to the grocery store, and when I come home, I make sure I have made a few essentials made for the coming week to take to work. Often this includes prepping for my daily morning green juices, cutting up veggies and fruit for snacks, and boiling some eggs for easy breakfasts. Sometimes I’ll even make crackers or trail mix to help with snacks.
This week, I decided I wanted to change up my breakfast routine a bit. Often, alongside the hard-boiled eggs and green juice, I’ll enjoy a piece of fruit, or some avocado and tomato. And while I am all for variety during other meals, I’m happy to eat the same breakfast day in and day out. For whatever reason, though, this week called for a change. Enter these protein breakfast bars.
I occasionally use protein powders for green smoothies as a breakfast solution. I don’t use them every day, as I prefer to get my protein from whole food sources, but sometimes, protein powder in smoothies is convenient. I often switch from brand to brand, although I am partial to Vega Performance Protein. I was pretty excited to find another gluten-free, non-dairy protein powder with an ingredient list I could definitely get behind – pumpkinseed protein powder. I found this brand – Omega Nutrition – and their protein powder is 100% organic and is reasonably priced. And get this – the ingredients? Organic pumpkin seeds. That’s it. Love when I don’t have to decipher whether something is actually food or not. (And no, I have no affiliation with Omega Nutrition, I just happen to love this powder.) I also like that it blends pretty well into my smoothies without any real flavor or texture issues.
This time, however, I decided to use it in these bars. I’ve seen people bake cakes and cookies with protein powder, so why not a healthy breakfast bar? These bars ended up chewy, subtly sweet, and satisfying – kind of akin to an oatmeal cookie. They’re not just for breakfast – they could be packed for a good little snack any time of day – but they’re great to make ahead of time and have on hand for the week. With a good amount of protein from the protein powder, peanut butter, and quinoa, plus fiber from the chia seeds, quinoa, and pureed fruit, they can help power you through your morning without being hungry. That’s key for me – I don’t want to feel like I’m starving an hour after breakfast!
So if you’re one to crave a little treat in the morning, these bars might just do the trick, and keep you on track to developing a new, healthier breakfast habit!
Quinoa Protein Breakfast Bars (gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free)
1/4 c peanut butter (I made my own, so the only ingredients were peanuts and salt)
1/4 c pumpkinseed protein powder (I am unsure whether you can substitute other protein powders, but give it a try!)
1 ripe banana
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c mashed sweet potato (I make mine using this method, but don’t always add maple)
2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t liquid vanilla stevia
1/4 t fine sea salt
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 T ground chia seeds
3 T maple syrup
1 c quinoa flakes
1/2 c raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9 in X 9 in baking pan and set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, puree the peanut butter, protein powder, banana, applesauce, sweet potato, cinnamon, stevia, salt, baking powder, chia seeds, and maple syrup until well combined and smooth. Scrape into a medium bowl and stir in the quinoa flakes and raisins. Scoop into the prepared baking pan and spread out evenly.
Bake for 25-30 minutes (mine took 28 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the edges start to brown just a bit. Allow to cool completely before slicing.
Store in refrigerator for a week, or in the freezer for several months.
Makes 16 squares.
Want to talk more about health and fitness goals? Join our Live Chat on Wednesday, January 9, 2013, at 9PM EST at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community. We will be discussing New Year’s Resolutions and health and fitness goals!