I think you could split the natural foods community up into two groups: smoothie people and non-smoothie people. I would put myself in the non category—I just cannot commit to smoothies, nor do I feel as satisfied with a liquid breakfast. Don’t get me wrong—I love smoothies and have them regularly—but in practice I really do prefer some kind of bar or bread for a quick, nutritionally dense breakfast.
Like other non-smoothie people, my cupboards are filled with large tubs of well-intentioned powders that have gone unblended for far too long. My goal in this article was to provide us non-smoothie folks with recipes and ideas to utilize all those powders in the form of some kind of solid or semi-solid that can be grasped with forefinger and thumb with the other hand on the steering wheel or keyboard. I love eating muffins and cookies as much as the next guy, but I wanted to find a way to increase the breakfast power of these treats.
This doesn’t just go for protein powders! Lots of things that we generally use in liquids—such as tinctures, wheatgrass, spirulina, and maca—could be used in other kinds of recipes. It does appear from a lot of the websites I surveyed that you can simply replace a half cup or so of a flour in a recipe to use up the protein powder, or a tablespoon or two of maca. You can also add a scoop to oatmeal or yogurt, which are fun ideas for sure. I like to start with a tested recipe, so that was where most of my search went.
The first recipe I found is from Vega’s booklet “Healthy Treats.” Inside is a recipe for a gluten-free banana bread utilizing their Whole Food Smoothie Infusion—an unflavored protein, fiber and nutrient booster designed for smoothies.
- 4 medium bananas, peeled and mashed
- 6 scoops Vega Whole Food Smoothie Infusion (or your favorite protein powder)
- 1/2 c. dates (or date sugar for a no-blender version)
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 1/3 c. olive oil or canola oil
- 1 1/2 c. gluten-free flour (buckwheat/rice/tapioca or a blend) (not gluten free? Just replace with your choice of flour)
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
Directions: Lightly oil a loaf pan and preheat oven to 350ºF. Blend the bananas, Vega, dates, oil, and vanilla together in a food processor until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the liquid ingredients and mix until smooth. Fold in the nuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour until the loaf is firm and a toothpick inserted into the center emerges clean.
Here are a couple of protein bar recipes:
Adapted from Alton Brown of The Food Network
- 1 c. (about 4 ounces) soy protein powder (or any protein powder)
- 1/2 c. oat bran
- 1/2 c. whole-wheat flour (or other whole grain flour)
- 1/4 c. wheat germ (or flaxseed meal)
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- About 2 cups of dried fruits, chopped and set aside (try raisins, currants, apricots, blueberries, goji berries or cherries)
- 1 (12.3-oz.) package soft silken tofu
- 1/2 c. unfiltered apple juice
- 1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar
- 2 large whole eggs, beaten (or two Tbs. flax meal and 6 tablespoons water)
- 2/3 cup natural peanut butter (or other nut/seed butter)
- Canola oil, for pan
Directions: Line the bottom of a 13-by-9” glass baking dish with parchment paper and lightly coat with canola oil. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the protein powder, oat bran, wheat flour, wheat germ, and salt. Set aside.
In a third mixing bowl, whisk the tofu until smooth (or use a food processor). Add the apple juice, brown sugar, eggs, and peanut butter, one at a time, and whisk to combine after each addition. Add this to the protein powder mixture and stir well to combine. Fold in the dried fruit. Spread evenly in the prepared baking dish and bake for 35 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 205ºF. Remove from the oven and cool completely before cutting into squares. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week. Serves 24.
Protein Peanut Butter Balls
Adapted from Liftforlife.com
- 3/4 c. peanut butter
- 1/4 c. honey or agave nectar
- 1 scoop chocolate or vanilla protein powder
- 1/2 c. raw oats
Directions: Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and form into small 1” balls. Place in the fridge for a few hours and then enjoy.
Ginger Pear Energy Bars
Vega founder Brendan Brazier’s book Thrive is also filled with recipes designed to get you going or keep you going. Here’s a unique recipe for a bar.
- 1 small pear, cored
- 3/4 c. fresh or soaked dried dates
- 1/2 c. sunflower seeds
- 1/4 c. ground flaxseed
- 1/4 c. hemp protein (or your favorite)
- 1/4 c. walnuts
- 2 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
- Sea salt to taste
- 2 Tbs. sesame seeds
Directions: In a food processor, process all ingredients together except the sesame seeds. The longer you process, the smoother your bar will be. Turn the mixture onto a clean surface, and pat it into a rough square or rectangle. Cover the mixture in sesame seeds. Place plastic wrap over top, using a rolling pin, roll to desired thickness. Slice into bars. The bars can be individually wrapped and kept in the freezer. Makes 12 bars.
Here’s a few other recipes for bars using other items you’ll find in our aisles.
Green Energy Bars
by Julie Morris—www.JulieMorris.net
- 2 tsp. wheatgrass powder
- 1/4 c. hemp seeds
- 1 c. raw cashews
- 1 c. pitted medjool dates (about 8 large)
Directions: Mix the cashews, dates and wheatgrass powder together in a food processor just until a rough dough has formed (allowing some cashews to remain coarsely chopped). Add the hemp seeds and pulse several times until combined.
Place a sheet of plastic wrap on a cutting board and spill the dough out on top. Use your hands to press and form into a 1-inch thick rectangle, then cut into 8 pieces.
Wrap and keep in the freezer for long-term storage.
Lemon Coconut Breakfast Bars
by Julie Morris—www.juliemorris.net
- 1 1/2 Tbs. chia seeds
- 2 Tbs. coconut oil, melted
- 3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 1 c. oat flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- pinch sea salt
- 3/4 c. + 2 Tbs. shredded dried coconut, divided
- 2 Tbs. lemon zest
- 2 Tbs. applesauce
- 1/4 cu. agave nectar
- 1/2 c. packed medjool dates, pitted
Directions: Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Grease an 8-by-8” baking pan.
In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and chia seeds. Set aside for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl mix together the oat flour, baking powder, salt, and 3/4 cup coconut flakes. Sprinkle in the lemon zest and mix again until distributed.
In a separate bowl, combine the coconut oil, apple sauce, and agave nectar. Mix in the soaked chia seeds. Chop the pitted medjool dates finely, and mix in with the other wet ingredients.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and stir until blended. Spread the mixture into the prepared baking pan, and use a spatula to flatten out the surface. Sprinkle remaining 2 Tbs. coconut on top, patting them down lightly into the mixture.
Bake for 25-28 minutes, until edges begin to turn golden brown. Cut while warm into squares. Makes 16 2”x2” squares.
by Julie Morris – www.juliemorris.net
Keep these as round balls or flatten with the back of a glass jar into cookies.
- 1/4 c. Maca
- 1/4 cup almond butter
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 cup chopped almonds
Directions: Soak the dates for 10 minutes in water to soften. Drain liquid, and place in a food processor to blend into a sticky puree. Add the remaining ingredients, and process until a dough has formed – dough should stick together when rolled into a small ball. If dough is too sticky, add more chopped almonds; if too dry, add a touch of water, 1 tsp. at a time.
Roll the dough into 1” balls, and refrigerate until ready to enjoy. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.
I love Kali Ma’s Kava Brownies
Adapted from Vegan World Fusion Cusine
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups spelt flour
- 1 1/3 cups chocolate chips
- 2/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 Tbs. arrowroot powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt, or to taste
- 2 droppers kava extract
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 3 Tbs. applesauce
- 3 Tbs. raisins
- 2 tsp. flax seeds, ground
- 2 tsp. vanilla
Directions: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Place wet ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Place batter into a parchment paper lined 9” x 13” baking pan, bake until top is slightly crispy and a toothpick comes out of the center dry, approximately 40-45 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.