Saturday, February 23, 2013

Paleo Avocado Chocolate Walnut Protein Bars with Apricots, Hemp and Chia

Time to fill up the freezer with pre and post workout protein/energy bars! This time I had some avocado to use up so went with it - result was a nice soft chewy protein bar. 
I like to make sure we always have protein/energy bars in the freezer to grab on our way to the gym or when I am going to be out somewhere and will need a healthy snack to tie me over. They are a must if you want to eat wheat free, low carb and clean on the run.  I like to make my own because I can make them low carb, tasty and cheap. They literally take only a few minutes to make if you have a food processor. I said I was going to stay away from avocado's for a while after overdosing on chocolate avocado pie and peanut butter avocado cheesecake bites a couple weeks back but I couldn't resist a bag from Costco. Now here I am - stuck trying to invent new ways to use them up. Problem with buying them in bulk is they all like to ripen at the same time. So I had a chocolate avocado protein shake this morning, avocado protein bars this afternoon and some guacamole before dinner. Three down, two to go.

There isn't a lot of magic/science to making protein bars. I have made them several ways and they always turn out. You just need some nuts, something for a bit of sweetness and usually something to help bind it. Don't feel you have to follow my recipe exactly. If you don't have walnuts try almonds, macadamia or pecans. No apricots, how about dates. If you don't have hemp or chia why not try it with pumpkin or sunflower seeds. I usually use some kind of binder - if you don't have avocado why not try pumpkin puree, melted coconut oil or more nut butter.  As long as they stick together and you can throw them in your purse/gym bag you are good to go. If they are too sticky add some coconut or if you are having trouble cutting them into squares just roll them into balls. Get creative!

After they set in the fridge they are ready to be cut into squares and put into the freezer!

Paleo Avocado Chocolate Walnut Protein Bars with Dried Apricots, Hemp and Chia

1 cup dried apricots, unsweetened, cut into small pieces
1 cup raw walnuts
1/2 cup hemp seeds (hearts)
1/4 cup black chia seeds
3 tbsp organic 100% cocoa powder
2 tbsp almond butter
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
6 drops liquid Stevia (optional sweetener - adjust to taste)
1 small/medium avocado, mashed
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional - I didn't add it to this batch but I will next time)

Place all ingredients except mashed avocado in food processor. Pulse until fully combined and granular in size (don't let it go too long or it will be like butter). Add avocado and pulse in or stir in with a spoon.   Line a 8 x 8 baking dish with wax or parchment paper. Press the mixture into the pan and smooth out the top. Put in the fridge until fully chilled - 1 to 2 hours. Take out of the fridge and cut into 16 squares. Freeze or refrigerate until ready to use.


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