There’s not a lot of things tastier than Nutella in my book, I could easily sit and eat a jar full of the stuff, hence why I never buy it, or even it’s slightly healthier cousin Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter. However that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the deliciousness that is the combo of chocolate and hazelnuts. Recently I’ve been loving simple crunchy hazelnut butter from Meridian on top of a bowl of chocolately porridge as one of my favourite breakfasts.
Now that I’m at a point in my pregnancy when I can hit the gym early in the morning again, I wanted to come up with an easy snack recipe that would put something on my stomach and get me through my albeit, short and light workout. I’ve been finding that I need something carby to get going first thing and although dates are ok, I wanted something a little more substantial than my Raw Nutella Brownie Bars.
That was when I remembered this very (very) old recipe for protein fuel bars, so I decided to create something based on those this last weekend. I was certainly not disappointed with this version! These bars have it all, whole grain carbs from the oats, protein from the protein powder and healthy fat from the hazelnut butter and coconut oil. The added cocoa and cacao nibs give them an extra boost of antioxidants.
- 1 1/2 cups of porridge oats
- 1/2 cup of chocolate protein powder (I used a vegan brown rice blend)
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup of hazelnut butter
- 1/3 cup apple sauce (I used apple and pear baby food)
- 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
- 1/4 cup liquid sweetener (I used rice syrup but honey, agave or maple syrup would also work)
- 1/4 cup water
- cacao nibs for decoration and crunch (optional)
- Combine the oats, protein powder and cocoa powder in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix the hazelnut butter, apple sauce, sweetener and melted coconut oil. Pour over the oat mix and stir to combine, drizzling in the water until you get a big lump of dough. Line a small baking tin or even a lunch box with cling film and press the dough down into it. Add another layer of cling film on top and flatten the dough out underneath it. If adding the cacao nibs, lift up that top layer of film, scatter the cacao nibs and then replace the film pressing the nibs into the dough. Transfer to the freezer for 30 minutes (or the fridge for 2 hours) to firm up before slicing into bars.
- I wrap my bars in foil and store them in the freezer to keep them fresh but they will also keep for a few days in the fridge. I cut my bars into 6, but you could also make them into 9 smaller squares.
- If you don't have protein powder try making these with 1/4 cup of cocoa instead of the 2tbsp and an extra 1/4 of oats, then adjust the water as needed to create the doughy texture. They might not be as filling but should still taste good!
- To make more hazelnutty, use 1/2 cup of hazelnut butter and leave out the coconut oil, or reduce the water, but be warned the bars may not hold together as well without the coconut oil
- If you fancy it, use actual Nutella or Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter instead of the plain hazelnut butter
- Instead of the apple sauce, use mashed banana for more sweetness
Depending on the protein powder you use you may need to experiment with the amount of sweetness you like. I used an unsweetened chocolate brown rice protein so added a little more rice syrup than in the recipe above. A good chocolate whey protein or chocolate Sun Warrior protein powder should work well. You could also use mashed ripe banana in place of the apple sauce as mentioned in the recipe notes or add a few chopped dates or other dried fruit for more sweetness if you felt they needed it.
These bars have a great fudgy texture and should be kept refrigerated as much as possible, although they should be ok for a couple of hours wrapped in foil in your hand bag. They should last a week in the fridge and several months in the freezer.
These have been wonderful to eat first thing before the gym and work really well for my energy levels! Have you tried making a home made fuel or protein bar before? What is your favourite pre workout snack?