Power-Packed Peanut Butter Protein Bars

Protein Bars 5Peanut butter is my favorite food, so I am slightly surprised that I haven’t used in it a blog recipe yet. Peanut butter can be eaten with breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Want to know how?

Bake it into protein bars.

This recipe is vegetarian-friendly. I put a variety of ingredients into the protein bars to obtain all of the essential amino acids.

Essential? Does that mean I need them?


Proteins are made of of small molecules called amino acids. About 20 amino acids are actively involved in every function of the human body. Humans can naturally produce half of these amino acids, but the other half of them have to come from the foods we eat. It is “essential” for us to eat them every day! The 10 amino acids made by the body are therefore considered “non-essential.”

For all the science nerds, like myself, here is a list of the essential and non-essential amino acids.

Non-essential Amino Acids: Glycine, alanine, proline, serine, cysteine, tyrosine, asparagine, glutamine, aspartic acid, and glutamic acid.

Essential Amino Acids: Valine, leucine, isoleucine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, methionine, threonine.

“Semi-essential” Amino Acids: Lysine and arginine may be needed for extra nourishment. Higher doses of lysine are beneficial for those with herpes. Extra intake of arginine can benefit those in recovery from trauma (like burns). Histidine and arginine are essential for infants, as their bodies cannot produce it themselves.

All essential amino acids are found in meat, fish, poultry and eggs. Vegetarians and vegans, therefore, need to make sure that they are eating complementary protein foods. Some sources of protein, like beans, will only have a fraction of the essential amino acids needed during the day. Generally, a combination of dairy or legumes with tree nuts, seeds, and/or grains is sufficient to obtain all of the essential amino acids for the day:

    • Beans and rice
    • Peanut butter sandwich
    • Hummus with pita
    • Yogurt and tree nuts
    • Grain cereal and milk
    • Mac and Cheese

If I don’t eat meat during the day, I make sure to consume complementary protein foods so my body can get all of the amino acids it needs.

That’s why I created this protein bar recipe.

I suggest obtaining a good source of whey protein for these protein bars if you are not vegan. Whey protein will provide higher amounts of essential amino acids than plant protein because it is derived from dairy.

Can you guess who thought of the idea for whey protein? The “big cheese.”

When cheese is made, manufacturers add enzymes to milk that split its components into curds and whey. Cheese is made from curds, so cheese manufacturers had no clue what to do with the leftover whey. One company decided to process the whey into protein powder, and they began selling it in bulk.

Voila, whey protein!

While the idea is good in theory, many companies use high-heat drying methods to obtain their whey products. This denatures the proteins, or makes them fall apart. The amino acids do not stay intact, so companies replace them with synthetic versions. I suggest finding a whey protein that uses low-temperature drying methods to retain the structure of the amino acids.

It’s time to make protein bars “the right whey.” If you eat these for breakfast, you automatically get all of your essential amino acids for the day!

For the protein bars: 1 ½ cups old fashioned oats, 1 cup unflavored whey protein powder (try Myocep), 3 tbsp hemp protein powder, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 2 tsp ground cinnamon (plus extra for dusting), 1/4 tsp sea salt, 2/3 cup homemade peanut butter (try my recipe!), 1/3 cup 2% milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 3 tbsp local honey, 1/4 cup cacao nibs

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Rub an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with a dollop of coconut oil.

Dry ingredients before mixing.

Dry ingredients before mixing.

Stir the oats, whey protein powder, hemp protein powder, chia seeds, and salt in a large bowl. Set it aside.

Combine the homemade peanut butter, milk, and vanilla in another large bowl. Mix them until fully incorporated.

Protein Bars 4Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients from the other large bowl. Stir them until they are fully incorporated. Then add the local honey. Stir in the cacao nibs.

Pour the mixture into the 8 x 8 inch baking pan. Press the bars firmly into the baking pan using your fingers, making an even surface. Sprinkle the bars with cinnamon.

Bake them in the oven for 15 minutes. The edges will turn golden brown.

Remove the bars from the oven. Let them cool on the counter for at least 20 minutes. Cut them into bars, and enjoy!

These bars are the perfect supplement for your diet. They contain a complete profile of the essential amino acids, and they taste delicious.

Protein Bars Main

Nutrition facts for one protein bar based on the USDA Nutrient Database and the ingredients used.

Nutrition facts for one protein bar based on the USDA Nutrient Database and the ingredients used.

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