|A snack that even Eric Cartman, Fitness God, could appreciate - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
Head over to a health food store and you can find protein powder. I used whey-based protein powder, but I believe there are soy-based ones as well. Try to find ones that don't have added sugars, otherwise it kind of defeats the purpose. Many will have artificial sweeteners in it -- not ideal, but sometimes you just have to work with what you have. Do the same label-searching on dried fruits -- it's surprising how much extra sugar or corn syrup is added to prepackaged dried fruits to "enhance flavor." Natural or specialty food stores should have a bulk section that offers dried fruits, so those would be the best resources to find both the fruits and nuts for this bar. I went with dried apricots and apples, just because they have plenty of natural sugars and flavor, but use whatever you prefer. The same with choosing the type of nuts used; almonds are easy to find, but if you like pistachios or something else, go for it. Try not to get a pre-salted nut, as that will throw off the flavor balance as well as the salt content.
At the end of the day, is this a delicious treat that you will crave fortnightly like the Kentucky Colonel's chicken? Negative, Ghost Rider. It's a bit on the dry and crumbly side, but if you're looking for a source of fuel during a busy day, this is a good way to make something with ingredient control and have an alternative when a doughnut is calling your name. I can say with experience that keeping these in my car or my camera bag has been a blessing, because the weeks of late have literally been spent on the run.
Beefcake 4000 Protein Bars
(makes about 12-16 small bars)
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup whey protein powder
1 cup canola/vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots (unsweetened)
1/2 cup chopped dried apples (unsweetened)
1/2 cup slivered raw almonds (unsalted)
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until fully incorporated -- should look like a thick oatmeal cookie batter. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place sheets of parchment paper in a criss-cross fashion in a rectangular baking pan -- this will help remove the finished protein cake when it's fully baked. Pour in the batter, spread/smooth evenly in the pan and bake for 20-15 minutes until everything is set and browned along the top. Remove from pan and let it cool on a rack. It will be firm, but slightly chewy when you cut it into little bars. Once the cut bars are fully cooled, wrap in plastic wrap and pack in your work bag or keep in your car for an on-the-go snack. They should keep for about two weeks.