Can’t decide on which protein bar you want? Is your agenda so filled you only have time to chug a glass of Soylent for your meal? Label that as “first world problems” and harken back to those days when your mom could have a full breakfast hot on the table before you bolt out the door for the school bus.
But to be fair, these two opposite ends of the spectrum exists everywhere and across culture and time, too. In Taiwan, on one extreme, you might be living with an extended family, and the mom or grandma can have the “luxury” of providing meals for the others with pressing agendas. On the other, there’s a convenience store on nearly every corner (sometimes two!) with food boiling away the hours in piping hot soup– just grab a bowl of meat or tofu or “iron eggs” and you’re good to go. (Notice I label both ends as “extremes,” so if you know of an exception, I’m sure you are right.)
Now, I admit that I don’t mind eating my meal in bar form. As much as I like food, and all the spectacle that it allows, sometimes it’s just fuel. Just pick up and go.
Disappointingly, “protein bars” are one export that has yet to really catch on outside the U.S. I guess we have to make our own!
CHERRY DATE FRUIT BARS
2 cups almonds
1 cup dates
1/2 cup dried cherries
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon wheat germ
2 scoops vanilla-favored protein powder
1 cup rice flour
1. Grind the almonds to a fine powder, using a food processor.
2. Grind the dates and cherries (separately) using a food processor. Both will ball up together pretty quickly, so do in batches/scrape the sides down as necessary.
3. Combine all the “wet” ingredients together, including the ground almonds. The dough will be quite thick! Use a potato masher.
4. Add the “dry” ingredients– protein powder, rice flour, and wheat germ. Usually at this point, I put the potato masher aside and use my hands to knead the dough. So thick!
5. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper. Press the dough flat, looking for 1/2 inch thickness.
6. Refrigerate for one hour at least.
7. Cut the dough into small bars, aiming for 12 to 16 bars. Wrap each one in waxed or parchment paper.
Despite how thick and dry the dough will seem, if you let it rest, and as it refrigerates, the end result is quite moist, so don’t overdo the orange juice. It’s also quite tart. If you need more sweetness, add some honey when making the dough.
These ingredients are highly variable. I tend to just use a mix of stuff if I have it hand, such as mixing in some oatmeal. Or I might reserve some of the almonds and chop them instead for added texture. For gluten-free, you can certainly eliminate the wheat germ, right? In the version I have pictured, I had no oranges on hand, so I used one tablespoon of Korean yuzu-honey tea concentrate instead of zest and juice.
These taste great with some black Rooibos tea!