Saturday, March 8, 2008

Gladiator Power Bars

Homemade Protein BarIn 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.

I work out fairly often and enjoy energy bars as a quick snack or energy boost. As we all know, this habit can get expensive as an average bar costs about $1.50. On top of that, read the label of your favorite energy bar and you may see ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, fractionated palm kernel oil, and sugar alcohols (think digestive problems). Yuck.

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 thedried fruits 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)
Cooking Spray

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.


Meandering Eats said...

I love American Gladiators! It was one of my favorite shows as a kid. My parents let me watch quite a bit in those days. Maybe not the best idea, but I don't think I was too scarred by "Married with Children". The reinvention of AG was exactly what I needed for my TiVo during the writers' strike.

MrOrph said...

You know, we all should work out more. I just bought a medicine ball and I need to work my "core". I wish I was back in the Army, running 25-30 miles a week. The only problem is that I couldn't eat as well as I do as a civilian.

I haven't seen the new AG. I am stil holding on to the old.

Mary said...

Luna bars are my favorite too-caramel nut brownie to be exact. I will have to try your recipe. Do you think that you can cut them and then freeze them? I'm worried that if I have them sitting around, I will just eat them like a brownie or something.

I loved American Gladiators. Nitro was my favorite.

Sharon said...

moowiesqrd - I too watched Married With Children. Such a good example for America's young :)

mrorph - I haven't seen the new AG yet either though it did bring back memories of my youth. I need to get a medicine ball as well...those are great!

Mo said...

I eat way to many Luna Bars, Kashi Go Lean (Turtle Roll rocks), and South Beach bars. Anyway, do you think these would work without any peanut butter? I can't stand PB flavor, especially in bars. I'm not sure if there is something I could sub and still get some sort of protein.

Sharon said...

Hi Mo,
Good question. A lot of the protein comes from the wheat germ, protein powder & tofu, so I think that without the pb, you'd be fine protein-wise. I do think you'd need to sub in something for the texture it adds...maybe apple butter or even almond/cashew butter if you don't mind the taste of that. I may try these with apple butter since I have some from a gift basket and not sure what to do with it. I'll let you know!