Why you should make your own nutrition bars (and how to do it)
When Camilla Saulsbury—founder of the supercharged recipe blog Power Hungry—was in grad school, her bag was just as likely to be packed with protein bars as with textbooks, providing what she thought was a much-needed jolt of energy for long days of lectures and studying. But they started to make her feel kind of sick, so she did a little digging. “I started to look at the ingredients,” Saulsbury says. “I was horrified at what was in them.”
Saulsbury’s been making her own energy bars ever since, and now the certified fitness trainer and marathon runner is helping others do the same with her new book Power Hungry: The Ultimate Energy Bar Cookbook.
Why make your own? It gives you control over what goes in them, so you can pass on preservatives and go easy on the sugar. Plus, you’ll save serious money by making big batches you can freeze, instead of picking up price-gouged $3 nutrition bars at the deli.
And while the prospect may sound intimidating to a kitchen novice, Saulsbury designed her recipes with the untrained cook in mind. “If you can stir and smush, you can make these bars!” she says.
Here are three tips to help you get started. Read ’em, then try the tasty protein truffle recipe Saulsbury shared with us!
1. Pick your protein powder. There are lots of varieties available (pea, whey, and vegan, to name just a few). The one you pick affects how you make your bars, so spend some time familiarizing yourself with the various options. For example, in her book, Saulsbury explains how to adjust proportions for a recipe if you’re using a vegan powder where whey is called for.
2. Build an energy bar pantry. In addition to keeping protein powder on hand, Saulsbury suggests stocking up on a range of mix-and-match ingredients, like oats, quinoa flakes, or brown rice crisps, a nut or seed butter, a sweetener like honey, and foods for texture, like nuts, dried fruits, and seeds.
3. Get creative. Once your protein bar pantry is properly stocked, you can adjust recipes to fit your needs and tastes (and to what you happen to have on hand). Kinda like smoothies. “Once you start making them and get the swing of it, it’s really easy to start freestyling,” Saulsbury says. Don’t stress—unlike more complicated baked goods, it’s almost impossible to mess up these healthy goodies. —Lisa Elaine Held