I've been experimenting with easy breakfast and workout refuel options in the kitchen this week, testing out some new ideas that will be included in the cookbook... (coming soon, stay tuned!). I'm a fan of anything in bar form - harkening back to my days of overdoing baked goods, perhaps, but also because of the grab-and-go convenience. Although I'm all for seated, mindful, calm meals whenever possible, sometimes you just need something quick to take with you on the run. When that happens to be packed with useable fuel and whole nutrients, it's a whole heck of a lot better of an option than a grab-and-go option one might find at a gas station. Yes? Yes. :)
I'm a big fan of Go Macro bars (since moving to the US, they have been my go-to before working out in the morning). Their ingredient labels are simple and concise: brown rice syrup, some combination of nut butters, a nut or two, and in some cases, fruit. These bars have a similarly simple set of ingredients, but texturally are a little silkier, like fudge, rather than the chewiness of Macro bars. And they're pretty darn good! (So good, I'd say, that you could cube them up and pass them off as dessert, but no one would notice.) ;)
These are energy and nutrient powerhouses: they're intended to be a component of a meal as there's a lot going on in here! In the spirit of balance, I'd recommend having one with something green, like a green juice or smoothie, or with fruit or a brightly-colored veggie. I anticipate having one of these + roasted squash come fall time. (Yum...)
There's a plethora of healthy fats in these bars, which makes them super-filling and great for the brain. Fun fact: your brain is a 7-pound ball of saturated fat sitting in your head. Guess what it likes as fuel? It likes fat! Working in a handful of nuts or seeds each day is a great way to keep the body on an even keel and provides tons of essential nutrients like Vitamin E (almonds, in this recipe), omega fatty acids (here, walnuts), and magnesium (pumpkin seeds or pepitas). The coconut provides beautiful saturated fat which acts as lubrication and nervous system lining throughout the body. It also helps relay the 'you're done!' message within the body: a body with ample healthy fat coming in registers fullness and satiety more easily.
To make the nut flour for these bars, you'll toast everything up in the oven (5-8 minutes; super quick!)...
... then pulse them in the food processor until they form a coarse meal. Try not to eat all of it in this form. I'm not sure why it's so good. I really need to start recipe testing with a piece of gum in my mouth. ;)
Once your toasted nut flour is done, you'll combine it with the remaining ingredients, press it into a loaf pan and let it set in the fridge. It takes about half an hour to firm up, so try not to drive yourself crazy in anticipation while you wait. I suggest making tea. ;)
Pull them out of the fridge, cut them up and then return whatever you don't devour right away to the fridge in an airtight container. These are largely held together with coconut oil, which is solid below room temperature. Keeping these in the fridge will ensure they stay solid until you're ready to dig in. They last at least an hour on the counter, unrefrigerated. I haven't tried traveling them, but they should hold up as long as you're not in the middle of the desert. Great option, too, for a dessert option for a gathering -- and totally fine to sit out on a table for nibbles.
A note on the protein powder I use here, as I'm asked frequently about the merits of protein powders:
This recipe includes Pure Encapsulations' Pure Lean Vanilla Protein Blend. I am a huge fan of Pure Encapsulations, the company whose incredibly well-researched, effective products we feature in the Vive Detox. I love this protein powder more than most of the store-bought options for a number of reasons:
- it's vegan: many protein powders are made from whey protein (not ideal if you don't do dairy)
- it's a whole source of protein: whereas many protein powders have 'protein isolates' in them, ie. dessicated, deconstructed, refined proteins, Pure uses whole ground pea, brown rice and chia as protein sources. Everything that nature put into the food remains in the powder, which means the body receives it and says, 'Ah yes! Rice! I know what to do with that!'... as opposed to saying, 'What? A piece of soy protein? Where's the rest of the fat/ starch/ protein molecules I should expect with that?'. Confusion = imbalance, which = negative symptoms, more hunger and less weight stability.
- it includes a multivitamin/ multimineral complex, which covers your bases if the rest of your diet isn't as balanced as it could be, you're stressed out (and not absorbing nutrients as efficiently) or you can't seem to remember to take the multivitamin you bought with such good intentions!
- it's a great source of B-vitamins, zinc and chromium (essential on a plant-based diet)
- it has the added bonus of a superfood complex: acerola cherries, camu camu, quercetin, açai, mangosteen and green coffee concentrate. It's an efficient way to get these nutrient rockstars into your diet without having to buy 16 different (expensive) packages of superfoods. Again, these are ground and added to the mix, not synthetically separated.
Incorporating a supplement like this into these bars takes them from energy bombs (in a good way!) to extra nutritionally-dense meal complements, and because they're set in the fridge instead of baked at a high temperature, all of that beneficial goodness remains intact.
I'm all for getting our nutrients from food as often as possible, but if we're unsure of our food's quality (particularly given the state of soil most conventional produce is grown in), adding a few boosts here and there can be helpful. Before you jump into any hardcore supplement regimen, definitely check with your primary health care provider. (Also: store bought vitamins, like many generic protein powders, aren't effective: they're isolated nutrients stuck in indigestible corn and soy fiber. The sewer system is filled with undigested one-a-day's... which means the bodies they traveled through didn't get much nutritional benefit. Look for high quality, well-studied vitamins before flushing your money down the drain.) If you'd like to discuss your current supplement regime, feel free to reach out - I'd love to make time to chat!
How did these turn out for you? I'd love to know how you're using these bars to refuel -- or what kinds of adventures you're getting up to that these provide a solid foundation for!
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/8 cup almonds
- 1/8 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 2 tbsp Pure Lean protein powder
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted (or at least at room temperature)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp of brown rice syrup (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- · Preheat oven to 350F. Place nuts and shredded coconut on a baking sheet and toast for 5-8 minutes until browned and fragrant.
- · Transfer to a food processor and blend until it forms a coarse mealy texture.
- · Combine coconut oil, vanilla, brown rice syrup and salt. Stir to combine.
- · Add nut mixture and coconut flour, folding in a little at a time until evenly mixed throughout.
- · Press mixture into a small loaf pan.
- · Refrigerate for about half an hour, until firm.
- · Cut into 2” x 1” bars. Refrigerate.
Disclaimer: I am not compensated by Pure Encapsulations for the information shared above. Just sharing my experiences and personal preferences for some a product that may also fit with your lifestyle and choices. xo