Healthy, nutrient dense protein bars that taste like brownies are HEEEEERRRREEE!!!!!
I made them just for you. Because I love you.
Okay, that’s partially a lie. I also made them for me, because I also love me. BUT I so want to share these mint chocolate protein bars with you. Because you deserve a little chocolate-y goodness that’s super duper healthy for you.
You know that I am a big fan of energy balls always stocked in my fridge and ready to go for my morning pre-work out snack.
TBH lately those energy balls have fallen into a bit of a rut. They have become something I’m not super excited to spend time making on a Sunday afternoon. I was buying a lot of RX bars as a result. Don’t get me wrong, RX bars are delicious and a clean snack option that I love when I don’t get around to making my own energy balls. BUT they were starting to eat a whole in my wallet. An energy bar that bites back….ummm?
When I’m no longer excited about the food I’m eating I know I need to switch things up a little, try something different. Mint chocolate protein bars are born!!!!
My original inspiration for these protein bars were the RX bar. They are made with a few simple ingredients. Sticky dates to hold things together and to naturally sweeten everything, a few nuts, and egg white powder for the protein. What I love about RX bars is how simple and clean the ingredients are and how much protein they have in them.
I was able to achieve a similar tasting protein bar! Dates for sticky sweetness, cocoa powder for rich chocolate goodness, cashews and pecans for the nuttiness and healthy fats. The egg white powder though? I decided to go a different route and use some collagen protein powder. Mostly because that’s what I have on hand and also because I am trying to work more collagen into my every day life.
If you’re not familiar with collagen powder, I will be happy to tell you…
We all have collagen in our bodies. It’s what keeps our skin firm, our hair strong, our joints padded, our bones, teeth, and nails strong (obviously along with calcium). But as we age we produce less and less collagen in our bodies. Incorporating good-for-you collagen powder in our diets can help our bodies to gain back what we’ve lost. Goodbye crackly knees! Hello firm skin!
It’s pretty much the fountain of youth!!! Sounds amazing, right?!?!
My only issue with collagen powder is that I can taste it in almost anything I have put it in, I’m not a fan. It’s slightly bitter and off-putting to me. CURSE MY SUPER SENSITIVE TASTE BUDS!!!!
I have tried adding it to smoothies (which is okay but not my fave), homemade lattes, energy balls. And guess what guys!!!! These mint chocolate protein bars are the first recipe where I CAN’T TASTE THE COLLAGEN ONE BIT!!!!!
So yes, I want to eat these mint chocolate protein bars EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE!! Because fountain of youth, remember??!?
Oh, I forgot to mention that collagen powder has protein in it….I mean that’s key to the protein bar part and a bonus to the collagen!
Besides the protein and the anti-aging of the collagen powder these mint chocolate protein bars are packed with so many other good-for-you ingredients. Let’s discuss.
Raw nuts: (you can use almost any kind of raw nuts you want here. Walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, cashews, or pecans). Each type of nut that you might choose has slightly different health benefits but all of them contain healthy fats and even more protein! Hello energy, goodbye hunger!
Cocoa powder: is packed with minerals such as iron, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. It’s also packed with antioxidants and it makes you happy: thanks dopamine! Bonus points if you use CACAO powder – which is raw cocoa, it retains more nutrition! See why we need these protein bars every day?!
Cinnamon: Stabilizes blood sugar and is an antioxidant
Maca Powder: An optional ingredient but I LOVE to incorporate it when possible. It provides energy and has been known to balance hormones.
Dates: Packed with fiber, vitamin k and A, folate, selenium and thiamine which helps to strengthen bones. Plus they are a natural sweetener giving us a sustainable energy.
Peppermint extract: Aids in digestion.
Collagen powder: Fountain of youth! (See above.)
YES to SUPER POWER protein bars!!!
Okay they’re healthy. But do they taste good?!?!
HELLO, THEY TASTE LIKE BROWNIES!!! Has anything that’s ever tasted like a brownie been a bad idea? I think NO!
These protein bars are rich in chocolate flavor, soft and chewy from the dates and perfectly sweet. The nuts leave a hint of nuttiness and slight texture but they mostly go undetected. The peppermint extract gives that refreshing, energizing taste that pairs so well with rich, dark chocolate – OBSESSED!
Not a chocolate mint fan?! No worries you can leave the peppermint out and still have a super delicious chocolate protein bar.
A little bit of weekend prep and we are prepared for Monday morning pre/post-workout snack or afternoon pick-me-up! GO US!!!
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 cup raw pecans*
- ½ cup unflavored collagen protein powder (I used Bulletproof, but use whatever you have or like)**
- ½ cup + ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (or sub cacao powder for even more nutrtional benefits)
- Optional: 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
- Optional : 1 tablespoon maca powder (good for energy and balancing hormones)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups dates, pitted
- Optional: ¾ teaspoon pure peppermint extract (or sub 3 to 5 drops of food grade essential oil, such as doTERRA)
- 2 to 4 tablespoons filtered water
- Pepare an 8X10 baking dish by lining it with foil or parchment paper and greasing the foil or parchment paper. Set aside.
- Dates: If your dates are dry and hard soak them in hot water for 5 mintues. For this recipe it's best to find juicy, soft dates if you can.
- Blend Dry Ingredients: Add the cashews, pecans, collagen powder, cocoa powder, cinnamon, maca powder, and salt to a food processor. Pulse until the nuts have broken down, some chunks are okay, and everything is well combined.
- Add the dates: If soaking the dates, drain them. Add the dates to the food processor and pulse until everything is well combined and the dates have broken down.
- Add the water: While the food processor is running add the peppermint extract (if using) and the water 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove the lid and check the dough in between each tablespoon of water added. If the dough sticks together when you squeeze it with your hand it's ready, if it's too crumbly then add more water. How much water you need will depend on how sticky your dates are.
- Press dough into pan: Transfer the dough into the prepared baking dish. Wet your hands a little and press the dough evenely into the pan. You want it to be really compact so everything sticks together.
- Freeze: Cobver the bars with plastic wrap. Freeze for 15 mintues or refrigerate for 30 mintues.
- Cut: Once chilled remove the bars from the pan and use a sharp knife to cut into as many bars as you like.
- Store: store the bars in an air tight container for up to 1 week. Or freeze for 6 months.***
**My original idea for these protein bars was to make them similar to RX bars. Rx bars uses egg white powder for the protein. I am curious to try egg white powder in this recipe and see if there is a difference in taste an texture. I used the collagen powder because that's what I have on hand and I am trying to work more collagen into my diet. You could also try any other unflavored, and unsweetened protein powder you like. I am personally very picky about the taste of protein powders but I think the cocoa powder and dates did a good job of covering up the taste of the collagen powder, so I think it will do a nice job covering up other unflavored protein powders. Let me know in the comments if you give any other protein powders a try :).
*** If you want to make the bars portable try wrapping them in parchment paper and then plastic wrap. They are very sticky so I think the parchment paper would be necessary here. I haven't tried this but I'm sure it would work. You could store them in the fridge or freezer this way and grab one for lunch or work or school or the car...or whatever on your way out the door. They should be okay at room temperature for 8 hours, they will soften up a bit the warmer they are. BUT I would keep them refrigerated when you can.:)
Recipe adapted from Fit Mitten Kitchen