You asked for protein bars. Repeatedly. And of all the things that I have on my interminable recipe request list – these were the easiest to keep pushing to the back of the queue. Repeatedly. I freely admit that I have procrastinated on protein bars because they scared me. I mean, where do you even start with making a protein bar? Somehow, once I’d got over a few hurdles I ended up with Cranberry Almond Protein Bars.
Typically, it turns out the fear was far greater than the reality. The lovely Lori sent me a note with an idea of where I might start – and after a short dabble in the kitchen – Cranberry Almond Protein Bars 1.0 were born.
I dumped the dough in a storage container and took it to the office. All day long people were wandering into my office to cut chunks off of “The Blob”. The flavor was a *HUGE* hit. The problem was the consistency. Like peanut butter, almond butter gets oily and separates when left to its own devices. My bars suffered the same fate. If “The Blob” was kept in the ‘fridge it was fine, but 30 minutes after removing it from the big chill, oiliness ensued. Blast.
Back in the Life in the Sane Lane HQ kitchen I tweaked the recipe here and there, tweaked the method here and there, and voila! Cranberry Almond Protein Bars 2.0 were exactly what I’d had in mind. Thanks for pushing me over the edge, Lori!
I’ll warn you now – they are a bit of a process. 10 minutes to make, but 12 hours to get them from dough to transportable bar. I’ll keep working on more bars, but I freely admit I am pretty darn pleased with how these turned out.
Here. Have some Cranberry Almond Protein Bars.
Cranberry Almond Protein Bars
Author: Carrie Brown | www.carriebrown.com
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 12 hours
Total time: 12 hours 30 mins
- 1/2 cup / 4 fl oz. almond butter, creamy unsalted
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 1/3 cup / 3 fl oz. COLD water
- 11 oz. / 310g vanilla protein powder
- 1 TBSP chia seeds
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp guar gum
- 1 1/2 oz. / 40g flaked almonds
- 2 oz. / 55g dried cranberries, finely chopped
- In a bowl, using a hand mixer or blender, mix the almond butter, almond extract and cold water together until completely mixed. This takes several minutes.
- In another bowl, add the vanilla protein powder, sea salt, guar gum, and chia seeds and mix well.
- Crush the flaked almonds in your hands and add them to the dry ingredients.
- Add the finely chopped dried cranberries and rub them through the dry ingredients with your fingers to separate them.
- Add the dry ingredients to the almond butter mixture and stir until it has formed a dry dough.
- Turn the dough on to a surface and knead the last of the dry ingredients in until you have a smooth, shiny dough. It will be slightly sticky.
- Wrap the dough in plastic and leave to rest for an hour.
- Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thick and cut into bars.
- You will need to use a sharp knife to slide under each bar to get them off the surface you rolled them out on.
- Carefully move each bar to a flat plate or board.
- Leave the bars to dry for 12 hours. Every 30 minutes or so, using a sharp knife to pick them up, turn each bar over. This helps the bars to dry evenly.
- After 12 hours the bars will have firmed up considerably and formed a ‘crust’, making them easy to pick up with your fingers.
- Wrap each bar in parchment paper or store in an air-tight container with parchment paper between the layers.
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More general information on ingredients
SarahMaybe to help the process of drying along you could dehydrate them slowly in a warm oven? Like the lowest heat setting possible for a couple hours? So then they arent really baked per se, more dried & dehydrated. I do this to make my own chicken jerky treats for the dogs with boiled chicken cut into strips. LOL :-)
carrieSarah – good thought, but I think this could end up a big mess with the almond butter :-( You could almost certainly use xanthan gum instead, although it is usually used for hot applications it should still work here.
SarahOh & they sound divine! I need some guar gum I guess to make them…or do you think xantham gum would work as well? I think I have some of that from some bread I’ve made before.
SarahTrue, I didn’t even think of the almond butter melting, it’d have to be more of a ground almond mixture probably to prevent that. Hmmmm….I must try this recipe & think on it some more.
carrieThe almond butter is the glue, Sarah. Someone else dried them in a dehydrator to good effect. Do you have one?
BeckyOk, I’m working on these right now! Can’t wait to see how they turn out! :) I was hoping that since Jonathan likes Quest bars (and because of him, my husband and I are now in love with them) that your bars would be like theirs. It looks like they may be similar. Yay! We’re spending a small fortune on Quest bars :) We’ve probably eaten 4 dozen since October last year when we saw Jonathan recommended them.
carrieHi Becky – yes they were fashinoned after Quest bars as that’s what I eat :-)
NancyAre these chewy or crunchy? Looks like chewy from the ingredients but just asking. I tried Jonathan’s chocolate peanut butter protein fudge. It didn’t get very solid in the fridge so have to tweak.
carrieChewy, Nancy! Yes, our beloved Jonathan is no chef ;-)
NancyI sort of suspicioned that Carrie :) Boy can that man wax poetic about egg whites and raw vegetables!
BUT, some yummy fudge that was actually good for you would be great and I have yet to try a recipe from you that let me down. So add that to your LONG list of recipes to create.
carrieI’ll add fudge to the list, Nancy!
I made these last night. I put them in my dehydrator at a low temperature setting and they were just right, texturewise, this morning. And instead of parchment paper, which never stays wrapped, I wrapped them in non-stick foil and then put them in a canning jar which I vacuum sealed. That should keep them nice and fresh.
I do have a few questions about the recipe. 1 tsp salt seems like a lot, but I may just be sensitive to salt lately.
It needs “something”–not sure what yet. I was thinking of adding some cinnamon and ginger to my next batch, or maybe some cocoa powder.
Anyway, thanks for the recipe.
carrieGood call on the dehydrator, Janknitz! On the salt – this counteracts the bitterness of the whey powder, but if you use a different whey protein to me then you may need more or less or none. Alter to taste for next time!
NancyOkay, back again. I made the bars this morning, came home from work and they are delicious. Exactly that sort of chewy satisfying mouth feel one often longs for in a snack. Mine look exactly like the ones you have in the photo.
For grins I did a quick calculation and determined each bar has about 13gm of protein.
carrieSo glad you loved them Nancy! The protein content will depend on which protein powder is used and how many bars are made, so your figure won’t be true for all.
CaroleThese look great thanks very much! One quick query…could you swap the almond butter for peanut butter? Or would this not work aswel?
carrieHi Carole – you could use peanut butter instead, just not sure how good it would taste with cranberries and vanilla.
SarahI don’t have a dehydrator but have been seriously considering getting 1 for a year or so now….
I made them last night though & they were amazing! I loved the amount of salt & how they aren’t too sweet at all! I put them on a metal rack I have & left them to dry overnight & they were perfect! No dehydrator or turning necessary. :-)
I had to put them in the freezer so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat too many! They were pretty easy to make too, other than mixing, which was a really sticky affair. Lol
Had a bar for breakfast along with my green smoothie & it really made my morning, thanks so much for this awesome recipe! I will definitely be making again!
carrieSarah – great call on the matel rack! They are a bit sticky getting them together, but hope you felt they were worth it :-)
I notice a lot of your recipes contain whey powder.
I am trying to avoid dairy.
With what can I replace this? can I use vanilla extract- liquid- or do you need a powder constituent in the recipe? Could I use ground almond?
What role does it play? Binding? or is it the powder state that is essential?
(I am in the UK)
Thanks for all your experimenting and delicious recipes!
carrieHi Liz – if you remove the whey protein powder they won’t be protein bars. We use whey powder a lot because it is the best form of protein, however, you can sub out for another protein powder if you can’t have whey – pea protein, rice protein – we don’t receommed soy protein though. I cannot vouch for the taste or the quantity, but it’s worth giving it a go if a protein bar is waht you were after. Hope that helps!
Marie-HeleneMmmm. These look good. I would suggest trying to replace almond butter with almond flour (powder) and adding some coconut oil. And possibly baking them. I have done similar ones in past and I’m sure they would be divine… :)
Oh dear how daft am I! asking if I can remove the protein from protein bars!(ha ha) It was more the whey aspect I focussed upon therefore missing the protein aspect and thinking the nuts would be the protein! Oh well maybe there is hope for me as I try to ‘keep up with the program at the back!’ (favourite phrase my husband frequently says to me!!!
carrieLiz, you made me smile :-)
PipHi Carrie. The only dried cranberries I can find here (Australia) have sugar added. Have you any suggestions for alternatives?
carriePip – unsweetened cranberries are very hard to find. I used sweetened.
Stacey LaitinenCarrie, I just wanted to do why you don’t use almond meal instead of flakes… would it absorb some of the oil? Just curious…Thanks! Love your recipes!
carrieHi Stacey – good thinking, but almond meal does not absorb like say flour would. The almond pieces were there to add crunch to the proceedings. Also, adding almond meal would make the dough impossibly dry. Hope that helps. Thanks for the recipe love!!
I KNOW calories do not matter but do you have the nutrition facts for this recipe or any of your recipes?
carrieMeghan – No :-) We don’t focus on the minutiae. We just focus on eating as many SANE foods as possible. Everything else takes care of itself. Also, for this particular recipe, the data would vary depending on what protein powder you use. Most recipes have so many variables that the nutrition data would not be accurate and I do not want to mis-lead.
SusanThis are drying right now on my cooling rack. I had a nibble already though because I am known for eat cookies right out of the oven…no willpower to wait!
They are very tasty and I have to believe the cost per bar is significantly less than any protein bar out there…even with the 1 1/3 cups whey powder!
Keep up with great work! Looking forward to variations of this…would love chocolate/peanut butter combo.
carrieHi Susan – so glad you loved the protein bars! I will have more varities as soon as I can get to it. Choc / PB is a great idea!
EmilyHave to say, I made these with other fruit and they were really, really good. I know you don’t count the nutrients, but mine ended up with more carbs than protein, even if you take out the dried fruit. They were also not cheap to make, at over $5.00NZ ($4.50US)each for 8 bars. But they were good, and not too high in carbs to make it really naughty! It may well be that protein powder in the US has higher ratio of protein than here – so many things are different, it’s surprising.
Many thanks for all the great recipes – please keep them coming!
carrieEmily – the differenbces in some of what you think are the “same” ingredients can be staggering! a differebt brand of protein powder would make a huge difference to the composition. YOu are right we don’t count nutirents – we just don’t eat starches and sugars. Carbs are not bad, starches are. Thanks for the recipe love!
SusannahThese are delicious! I just made my second batch and am having a hard time limiting myself to just one bar at a time! I made some substitutions based on what I had in the kitchen, peanut butter in place of almond butter and ON chocolate whey protein instead of vanilla. I didn’t add the almond extract, cranberries or flaked almonds beacuase i didnt have any and decreased the salt because my pb was salted. Such a winner, thanks for all that you do!
carrieThwy sound awesome, Susannah!
Matt BarnesHi Carrie! I tried a version of your recipe and used vanilla Plant Fusion vegan protein and Plum Amazings for the cranberries because I didn’t have access to unsweetened cranberries. It was super dry and I had to add like 5 or 6 tablespoons of water to it. Is there a formula to use vegan protein instead? Thanks for your help!
carrieHi Matt – for some reason I completely missed your comment :-( Without trying all the different protein brands, there is no simple formula for for vegan protein, but what you did was perfect!!
danielleanother great recipe Carrie!! Thank you again! I used peanut butter because that is what I had and didn’t add the salt, but did everything else and it was fantastic!! 3 year old approved!
carrieDanielle, I love your three-year-old!! :-)
MatildaAs you would be aware from Twitter I made these today.
Ok so I didn’t have 1/2 cup of almond butter (only about 1/6th of a cup), but I made up the rest with sunbutter (worked fine btw).
I also didn’t have flaked almonds, so I used pepitas and did the trick.
I also used my dehydrator to dry them out (2 hours, 1 hour each side).
They are now in a container ready to go when I need a snack.
LouisaCarrie, I did a back of the envelope calculation on the protein and came to about 13.5 g/bar. I’ve noticed that a lot of protein servings come up short of 30g. Is there any reason for that? Even my whey powder would need 1-1/2 servings to get over 30g. Given the science, I’m surprised that isn’t the target for a serving. So I’m left to wonder why.
carrieHi Louisa – the protein content will vary depending on what protein powder you use. If you are eating just a protein bar and want to hit 30g in one sitting then cut the bars accordingly. However, we would never recommend just having a protein bar as a meal. You would typically eat it as a snack or as a dessert after a meal. If having it as part of a meal you would need to add the protein in the bar to whatever you ate as a protein in your meal. Hope that helps! Plus, remember that hitting the 30g MAXIMISES muscle synthesis, but nothing bad happens if you don’t reach that at every meal. Quest bars don’t have 30g protein in either.
LoriWow. These are sticky! But – they taste good. I didn’t include the cranberries. I don’t have any in the house and since it is snowing again – didn’t want to run to the store. I don’t know if it was because of that or the way I rolled the dough, but I only got seven bars. They are sitting and drying out now – can’t wait until they are done.
They aren’t tough to make, once you figure out how to work with the stickiness.
Sally CapehornI have made these twice, very nice both times. The 1st time I made as instructed with the turning over of the bars continually. On the 2nd occasion I didn’t have time to roll out and left the mixture in a large mixing bowl in the fridge until the following evening. When I removed it was a large hard lump, I had used double quantity, whoops I thought I’m in trouble! Anyway after several attempts to roll I gave in and had the bright idea to slice with a sharp knife. It worked a treat without the many hours of turning over. Worked for me so thought I would share.
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TresaI am making your CranberryAlmond Protein Bars. I have followed the directions / quantities exactly and the mixture is soooooo dry…looks like granola. No way is this mixture going to stick together. Is there a typo in the online recipe? Thanks….not sure what to do with this mixture? 11oz of protein powder … it’s an awful lot!
carrieHi Tresa – there is no typo in the recipe. I am not sure what you did wrong, but if you can give me some more info I’d love to help!
TresaNow sure what else I can tell you…I have a bowl of very dry ingredients…no way will it stick together. Approx how many cups is your brand of protein powder.
For me, 11oz was about 3 cups? Does that seem right?