Date Nut Protein Bar Recipe
turf's Date Nut Protein Bars were originally developed to make a dense high energy no-cook food suitable for backpacking and camping. They are also in response to the difficulty in finding healthy protein bars that do not have hydrogenated oils, soy, corn, corn syrup, wheat, petrochemicals, or artificial sweeteners, which excludes almost every protein bar on the market with the exception of Nutribiotic ProZone bars, and these are pretty hard to find fresh. Prozone 40-30-30 bars are made with whey protein, fruit leather, and nuts, and are an excellent product, but you need to eat a couple of them to make a meal, which can be expensive.
Coincidentally, while the recipe for turf's date nut bars were being developed, a new product hit the market called LaraBars. They are also made with dates and nuts, but no protein. They come in many different flavors.
Date nut protein bars can be made with infinite variations so experiment and find your favorite.
1 cup pitted dates
1 - 1.5 cups raw nuts or seeds.
1/2 cup to 1 cup protein powder (either a good whey product or No-Soy vegetable protein)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, dark or regular
1/2 cup dried unsweetened apples, blueberries, or cherries, or 1/4 cup unsweetened cranberries
1/2 tsp or to taste Real Salt or Himalayan Pink Salt
1/2 - 1 tsp or to taste cinnamon, ginger, fennel seeds, or other spices.
Process all ingredients together in food processor. If needed, add water 1 tsp at a time while processing to get it just moist enough to hold together when pressed. Either roll into balls, press into bars or loaf, or to make them of uniform size, press into lever release ice cream scoop, melon or meatballer. Dust with oat flour or protein powder or roll in coconut if desired.
One golf ball size portion of this mix is a filling snack or a meal for light appetite. Two is a meal for a hearty appetite.
For nuts/seeds - raw hulled pumpkin seeds are a good source of both omega 3 and omega 6 oils, and are the best choice if a single nut/seed is desired. Walnuts are primarily omega 3 and sunflower seeds and almonds are primarily omega 6, so a mix of these is also good. Roasted peanuts are a tasty addition, but not as healthy.
For protein powder, use either a good whey protein powder or a soy-free vegetable protein like NatureAde Soy Free Veg Protein Booster (contains pea, rice, and potato protein). For whey protein, a good choice is Next Nutrition's Designer Protein, either French Vanilla or Plain - their chocolate and regular vanilla contain an artificial sweetener. The French Vanilla has a small amount of stevia but not enough to sweeten it much. Protein content can be adjusted from medium content (1/2 cup) to high content (1 cup). Using more will require a couple extra teaspoons of water to make.
Amount of water needed varies widely depending on if cocoa powder is used, how much protein powder is used, what type of protein is used (vegetable protein requires much more than whey), moisture content of dates, and oil content of nuts/seeds. Lemon juice can be used instead of water to make lemon flavored bars - see below.
A good version of this is with a 1/4 cup dark cocoa (and salt) since this large amount of cocoa cuts the sweetness of the dates. If not using cocoa or a sour component like berries, it is too sweet for many people. The sweetness may also be mitigated with ascorbic acid (start with a 1/2 tsp) or other sour/acid ingredient.
Another solution is to use _unsweetened_ lemon juice or lemon juice powder to make lemon flavored bars. If buying lemon powder, look carefully at the ingredients before buying and if they are not stated, assume the product is made with corn syrup or sugar. Only get pure lemon juice or fruit powder such as that available from King Arthur Flour. Note that Frontier's Lemon Juice Powder, sold many vendors, is not suitable since the ingredients are "corn syrup solids, lemon solids and lemon oil."