Protein, protein, PROTEIN! (Said in loud, hulky voice.)
That’s what I’ve jokingly been saying recently as I shovel mass amounts of food into my mouth.
I’ve been trying to add more protein into my diet (as always), but it’s hard work! Namely because it’s challenging to remember that you need nutrients more than chocolate (even though chocolate is totally more fun).
I recently realized after a number of failed attempts at vegan protein bars that I should totally just make my own.
So I did.
And they rocked.
And they’re easy.
And they’re way better than store bought (there I said it).
Plus, just 4 ingredients, naturally sweetened, and more than 10 grams of protein per bar!
The base is peanut (or almond or sun) butter, then comes maple syrup and your favorite protein powder (I list mine below). And the final touch? POPPED AMARANTH.
This mighty grain contains plenty of nutrients and protein and has a neutral, slightly nutty flavor. Not to mention, it pops up beautifully on the stovetop in no time (10 seconds!).
I hope you love these bars! They’re:
Protein-packed (10+ g/ bar!)
& Highly portable!
These are the perfect snack to have around when you need a little extra protein during the day. They’re so simple once the amaranth is popped (you can do it, I believe in you). I highly recommend making a big batch and freezing these! They’ll stay forever in the freezer (OK, more like 1 month).
If you make this recipe let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag a picture #minimalistbaker on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, friends!
- ~1/3 cup (70 g) amaranth (1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups popped)
- 3 Tbsp (~25 g) vanilla or unflavored vegan protein powder*
- 1 1/2 - 2 Tbsp (22-30 ml) maple syrup (or sub stevia), more or less to taste
- 1 cup (256 g) creamy salted peanut or almond butter (or sun butter if sensitive to nuts)
- optional: 2-3 Tbsp (15-20 g) melted dark vegan chocolate
- Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper (or plastic wrap) and set aside.
- Pop* your amaranth by heating a large pot over medium-high heat. You'll know it's ready to start adding amaranth when a drop of water disperses quickly and balls up.
- Add about 2-3 Tbsp amaranth at a time and immediately cover. Shake the pot back and forth over the heat (wearing oven mitts is helpful) to move the grain around. It should start popping within 1-3 seconds, and be done popping at the 10-second mark. Be sure to pull them off at around 10 seconds or they'll start to burn.
- Not every single grain will pop (that's OK!). Very quickly empty into a mixing bowl. This may take a couple tries to dial in your heat and not burn them - it took me 4 tries! But then you'll hit your stride.
- Continue until you have roughly 1 1/2 cups popped grain. As you go, add your popped grain into a small mixing bowl first to ensure none are burnt. Then transfer to a larger bowl so you don't mix any burnt grain with perfectly popped grain. Set aside.
- Add peanut or almond butter and maple syrup to a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine. Then add protein powder and stir.
- Add popped amaranth a little at a time until you have a loose "dough" texture. Be careful not to add too much or the bars can lose their tackiness and won't stick together. I found roughly 1 1/4 cups to be about right. Stir with a wooden spoon or use hands to disperse mixture evenly.
- Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and press down to form an even layer. Lay parchment paper or plastic wrap on top and use a flat-bottom object like a liquid measuring cup to press down and pack the mixture into an even, firmly packed layer.
- Transfer to freezer to set for 10-15 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Then lift out and slice into 9 bars. Enjoy as is, or drizzle with a bit of melted dark chocolate (optional).
- These get a little soft at room temperature, so store in the refrigerator (up to 5 days), or in the freezer (up to 1 month).
*My go-to protein powder recently has been Garden of Life Raw Protein Powder in Vanilla, which works great, here! Other options would be Vega, Vegan Smart, or Sun Warrior.
*I highly recommend making a big batch and freezing these! They'll stay for at least 1 month, likely longer!