Delicious and nutritious chocolatey bars, crammed full of good things. Peanut butter, maple syrup, and cacao powder are combined with peanuts, seeds, oats, and an optional flurry of protein powder, for the ultimate post-gym treat or a protein-packed pick-me-up.
Energy bars are not usually my thing. Given that I have a chronic illness that makes it impossible for me to do all but the gentlest of exercise, high-calorie protein snacks are not something I give much thought to. However, some of my far more active family members have recently started volunteering at the local covid vaccination clinic and after a few very busy shifts, have been looking for a quick snack to take with them that will give them a boost while they casually save lives. And while I can’t volunteer, I can make snacks, and these ones are pretty tasty.
How to make vegan chocolate and peanut protein bars
These bars are a doddle to make; they only require a few ingredients and few minutes to whip up, plus a bit of chilling time. I used a 18cm square cake tin, but you can use anything of equivalent area; an oven dish, baking tray or even some tupperware. Grease whatever it is you are using and line the base with baking paper.
Then measure out your peanut butter and maple syrup in a small saucepan. I used an unsweetened salted smooth peanut butter – if yours has added sugar you may want to use a little less maple syrup, and if it is unsalted you may want to add a pinch of salt to taste. Smooth is preferable and helps to stick everything together, and there’s plenty of crunch coming from the added seeds and nuts. Instead of maple syrup you can use brown rice syrup, agave syrup or even golden syrup, although these tend to be sweeter so you may want to use slightly less of them depending on your taste.
Warm the ingredients in a saucepan over a low heat, whisking occasionally, and in the meantime, weight out the other ingredients into a large mixing bowl; roughly chopped salted peanuts, mixed seeds, oats and vegan protein powder. You can use a shop-brought seed mix or a combination of whatever seeds you have already. I used a mix of sunflower, pumpkin and flax seeds, but you could also use sesame seeds, chia or hemp. I like to whizz half of the oats in a high-speed blender or food processor, which helps the bars stick together, although this is optional.
For the protein powder, I used a vanilla flavoured vegan powder, but you can use whatever you prefer; chocolate would work really well. You can omit this entirely if you’re not fussed about the additional protein, otherwise I suggest adding 2–4 tbsp; any more and the flavour of the powder is likely to overwhelm everything else.
Once the peanut butter and maple syrup have formed a smooth, thick sauce, sift in the cacao powder and continue whisking until it’s completely incorporated. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the dry ingredients. Stir until everything is coated in the chocolatey paste. You can use a spoon but I found it easier just to use my hands. Tip everything into your prepared tin or dish, and pop in the freezer for half an hour to firm up (or a couple of hours in the fridge if you’re not in a rush).
Slice into rectangles and store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 1 week – they will soften and crumble if left out of the fridge (as mine did during taking pictures) so if you’re taking one with you as a snack, make sure it’s wrapped up tightly. You can also freeze them and de-frost them in the fridge overnight, so you can make a big batch, freeze the lot, and put one in the fridge every evening for the next days snack. If you’re that organized.
Please let me know if you give these a try! You can comment below, use the star rating at the top of the post of find me on Instagram or Twitter @greedybearbakes.
Vegan Chocolate and Peanut Protein Bars
Delicious and nutritious chocolatey bars, crammed full of good things.
- 130g (½ cup) smooth peanut butter
- 125ml (½ cup) maple syrup (sub agave, brown rice, date or golden syrup)
- 3 tbsp cacao powder (or 2–3 tbsp of cocoa powder*)
- 150g (1⅔ cup) oats (gluten-free if necessary)
- 100g (⅔ cup) salted peanuts, roughly chopped
- 50g (⅓ cup) mixed seeds
- 2–4 tbsp vegan protein powder of choice** (optional)
- Grease a cake tin or dish, somewhere around 18×18 cm, and line the base with baking paper.
- Measure 130g peanut butter and 125ml maple syrup into a small saucepan, and place over a medium-low heat, whisking occasionally until it forms a smooth, thick sauce. Sift in 3 tbsp cacao powder and whisk to combine.
- In a large mixing bowl, measure out 150g oats – you can whizz roughly half of the oats in a food processor or high speed blender to help the bars to stick together. To the oats, add 100g roughly chopped salted peanut, 50g mixed seeds, and 2–4 tbsp protein powder, and mix everything together.
- Pour the chocolate mixture over the oats and nuts. You can use a spoon to stir everything together but I find it much easier just to use my hands. Once everything is thoroughly coated, tip the mixture into your prepared tin and press it down so it forms an even, compact layer. Pop in the freezer for half an hour, then remove from the tin and slice into 12-15 pieces.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week, or freeze and defrost in the fridge overnight.
*I prefer cacao here as it’s more nutrient rich, but cocoa will be fine. Cocoa powder tends to be a little more intense so start with 2 tbsp, and taste to see if it needs a bit more.
**The amount of protein powder you add is up to you. I used a vanilla flavoured powder, and at 4 tbsp you could taste it a little but not in a way that was unpleasant. If you’d rather not taste it at all, then start with 2 tbsp and see how you go. You can always add a little more if you don’t mind the taste and really want to pack the protein in.