Pumped-Up Pumpkin Protein Bars

Today is Saturday.  It is past noon, I have been in my pajamas for far too long, and I think even my chubby cat has been more active than me.  I want to stress that this is highly abmormal – partly to assuage my guilty conscience, and partly as a segue to why I’m into these nummy bars.

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Normally, I’m not having a pajama party at noon.  This is just my lethargic alter-ego.   The normal me teaches between 6 to 9 hours of aerobics and fitness classes per week and drives to multiple places of work every day.  For these reasons, I like to have food around that’s easy to grab.  And not just any food will do – it’s gotta be something that, once I eat it, is going to keep me going for a while. 

To me, this means it should have a bit of protein, some fiber, and a low enough glycemic level that my blood sugar won’t spike and crash.  It’s helpful to have something I can eat quickly, without prep, and that can be eaten in just the right amount when I need it.

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There are certainly some pre-made protein bars I like to buy at the store, but I’m really a bit of a sucker for cookies – and, well, for baking cookies!  I also love anything with pumpkin… you might already know these things, though.  So, in the quest of making something really delicious to eat on my active days, these bars worked out just right! 

I would also definitely recommend these as great kid-food/snack food/dessert– if you and your family like oatmeal cookies, these are a healthy alternative to a traditional recipe!

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Pumped-Up Pumpkin Protein Bars

Makes about 35 bars, 26g each, on average.

1 2/3 c. whole wheat flour

1 2/3 c. rolled oats

2 T. ground flaxseed

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

2 scoops vanilla protein powder (no sugar added)

1 cup whole raw cashews

¼ c. melted coconut oil

1 c. pumpkin puree

1/3 c. plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt

¼ c. liquid egg (or 2 egg whites)

2/3 c. dark brown sugar

½ c. pepitas, optional

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a large cookie sheet with a ½” rim, or two smaller square pans, with cooking spray.

Combine flour through protein powder in a large bowl with a whisk to aerate. 

Grind up the cashews with the melted coconut oil in a food processor until it becomes a paste – fun fact: this mixture replaces the standard recipe’s 1 cup butter at 1620 calories, 186g fat {116g sat}, with 1092 calories, 92g fat. {40 sat}, while adding 22g more protein than butter!

In a separate bowl or mixer, thoroughly combine pumpkin through brown sugar, including the cashew-coconut paste.  Combine the ingredients with a rubber spatula, making sure to get rid of any pockets of dry flour, and mix in the pepitas.

Spread the cookie dough out evenly on the pan using a long offset spatula sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for about 13-16 minutes, or until just beginning to brown on the edges and soft to the touch (but not at all gooey) in the middle. 

Allow to cool for about 10 minutes or so until cutting and serving!

Per bar calories: 104 calories, 15g carbs, 4g fat, 4g protein, 7g sugar, 1g fiber

Per entire batch: 3,526 calories, 510g carbs, 134g fat, 140g protein, 246g sugar, 40g fiber

For me, a good breakfast might be two of these and a hard-boiled egg, providing about 280 calories and 14g protein.  Of course, you can make this a bigger breakfast or a smaller snack as well to fit your needs.

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Now that I feel I have actually become one with my couch… I guess it’s time for me to finally get moving now!