Katie Green's Food Blog: Protein Bars
After a few years of sharing my cooking adventures and the occasional food sample with those willing (and sometimes unfortunate) individuals in the athletic training room, I've decided to start sharing these experiences with a (hopefully) broader audience, while at the same time providing insight into working with different ingredients, cooking methods, and other kitchen related knowledge that you didn't know or think you needed. Hopefully, we will not relive my chewy cracker experience, the ravioli that fell apart in the water when cooking, the absurdly awful baked healthy veggie corndogs or the yeast that wouldn't grow for my sourdough bread bowl since my condo was freezing cold because I'm too cheap to turn the heat on. But just as in any situation, practice (and failure) makes (more closer to) perfect.
So we start with protein bars. They're easier to make than muffins (read: hard to screw up) and customizable to your tastes and preferences as well as much cheaper and healthier than the store bought version. Portable and nutritious, they're good for a quick breakfast, before and after workouts, as a mid afternoon snack, or even to bring along on a hike - like the trip I went on to Whidbey Island last weekend. The Ebey's Landing hiking trail had unbelievable views and I just wish I had a better camera than my phone. Blisters and tendonitis aside, it was a great time. However, I did come close to supporting the new extreme sport of Barefoot Hiking as I tried to decide whether stepping on rocks and branches was better or worse than dealing with blisters. Of course, most of my blister care supplies were sitting safely back in the car. As this is a G rated blog, I include pictures of scenery here rather than my injuries.
Whole Grain Power Bars
Adapted from Bob's Red Mill Recipes
Bob's Red Mill website provides a great selection of whole grain recipes. The one for homemade poptarts is particularly intriguing, and hopefully the source of a future post. Check Bob's out for energy and breakfast bars among many other recipes (Baked donuts! Who knew?).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the rack in the center position. Spray a 9x13" (or thereabouts) baking pan with Pam.
While the quinoa is cooking, assemble the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, flaxseed (omega 3 fatty acids), protein powder, baking soda, salt, walnuts (more omega 3's!), sunflower seeds, cranberries (prevents urinary tract infections!), coconut, cane juice and flour. If you want to substitute the cane juice for regular sugar, do so at your own risk - I make no guarantees. However, you can experiment with other nuts (almonds), pumpkin seeds, blueberries or various dried fruits. Do not experiment with all-purpose or whole wheat flour instead of the pastry flour. Difference types of flours vary in their gluten content which affects how the flour works chemically in the recipe. Pastry flour is high in gluten to facilitate the elasticity in this recipe. While cooking is an art (adding spices, etc), baking is a science. Without the proper ratios and ingredients, the chemical reactions necessary for the product to come together, will not occur. E.g. your bread won't rise or your crust won't be flaky. Flour substitutions can be found online. If you wish to use all-purpose instead of pastry flour, use 1/2 cup minus 1/2 tbsp. A small but significant difference.
After the quinoa has absorbed all the water, remove it from the heat and add the oil (can try substituting an equal amount of applesauce to make healthier) and vanilla.
After mixing together, add the wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients (this process is facilitated by first making a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pouring the wet ones into the well). Thoroughly combine and transfer to the pre-greased baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a light brown and no longer soft in the center. Cool completely and cut into 15 bars. These freeze very well and make an easy grab and go snack.
250 Calories. 13g Total fat. 2.5g Saturated fat. 220mg Sodium. 25g Carbohydrate. 4g Fiber. 7g Sugar. 10g Protein.
Adapted from Alton Brown, Good Eats
Good Eats is one of my favorite cooking shows because it explains tricks for making certain foods (how to dry out and soaking bread for French toast, resting crepe batter overnight, etc), how to store ingredients, and theory behind how a recipe is put together. Perhaps my ravioli wouldn't have fallen apart if I had seen that episode first.
Don't be afraid of the tofu in this recipe. Tofu is flavorless by itself and takes on the flavor of whatever other ingredients are around it. It is important to use the right tofu for your recipe. Silken tofu, which is used in this recipe, is soft and works well to add protein to smoothies, mousse, etc. On the other hand, extra firm tofu can be baked or grilled as it retains its shape. While silken tofu is best thrown directly into a recipe, firm tofu should first be frozen in its package, completely defrosted, drained, and then further drained by placing it between paper towels with a cutting board on top. Then place cans on top to provide some weight and help squeeze out more of the liquid. After about 20 minutes, it will be much drier and will absorb a marinade or sauce much better to enhance its flavor and texture.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in center position. Spray 9x13" pan with Pam, line bottom with parchment paper and then spray top of parchment. This will facilitate removal of your bars from the pan. Do not use wax paper as the wonderful melting properties of wax do not lend itself well to heat when cooking.
Mix the protein powder, oat bran, flour, wheat germ and salt together in a large bowl.
In another bowl, whisk the tofu until it's smooth. Then add the apple juice (unfiltered preferable but not necessary), brown sugar, eggs, and peanut butter.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and combine thoroughly. Fold in dried fruit.
Pour into prepared baking pan and cook for 35 minutes or until golden brown and center is set. Cool completely and cut into bars.
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