In honor of the triumphant return of American Gladiators to our TV screens, I've made some homemade energy/power/protein bars. As a child, I was fixated by this bizarre icon of early 90s television. Come to think of it, I'm not sure why my parents allowed these weekly viewings. There's nothing inherently wrong with the show, though it just seems to be an odd choice for a child's TV repertoire. In any case, I digress.
These bars are based upon Alton Brown's Protein Bar recipe. You can interchange the fruits, and if you're in the mood for an indulgent bar, add mini chocolate chips. Because I didn't want to get stuck with a bag of wheat germ or oat bran, I visited my local Whole Foods and purchased all the dry goods in bulk. Total cost: $2.20 (the 1/4 cup of wheat germ cost $.08!) Beat that Luna Bar! I added some spices (cinnamon & pumpkin pie spice) to rev up the taste, used crunchy peanut butter for half the amount called for, and experimented with adding peanut butter chips & chocolate chips I had on hand. The latter is optional, of course. Don't want to bring your health down! :)
Verdict: The bars are certainly hearty and the peanut butter has a predominant taste. Nothing can beat my Luna Bars which in my mind, are a like a candy bar with vitamins, but obviously some things are too good to be true. These homemade power bars are made from wholesome ingredients and are low cost to make. I'll be freezing some to add into my rotation though I can't call them a replacement quite yet.
Update: I finished off my batch of fresh bars, and moved onto the frozen ones. I actually prefer these to the fresh! Leave them out for just a few minutes to soften and they're ready to eat.
Gladiator Power Bars
(adapted from Alton Brown's Protein Bars)
1 cup vanilla soy protein powder
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1 (12.3-ounce) package silken tofu
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated Splenda for baking
2 large whole eggs, beaten
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter (optional, use all creamy pb if you prefer)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (optional, but delicious)
Line the bottom of a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish with parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking spray. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Coarsely chop the raisins, blueberries and apricots and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the protein powder, oat bran, wheat flour, wheat germ, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk the tofu until smooth. Add the apple juice, brown sugar, Splenda, eggs, peanut butters and vanilla, 1 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 (and chocolate chips, if using). Spread evenly in the prepared baking dish and bake in the oven for 35 minutes. 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.