Confession: I eat and love packaged protein bars way too much. The nuttier, chunkier, chocolate-ier, the better. Mint Chocolate Quest Bars are my crack.
My favorite aisle in the Sprout’s store is the ‘nutrition bar aisle’ because SO MANY new brands and flavors of protein bars have popped up in the last couple of years. Anytime I see a new brand or flavor, I just have to try it. Luna, Clif, Quest, Kind, Larabar, Pure Protein, Raw Revolution, Nugo, Balance, Kashi – you get the picture.
Anywayyyys, my dependency on packaged bars to supply my protein and energy (or just satisfy my sweet tooth) sort of contradicts my goal to create a more ‘natural’ diet. I’ve been experimenting with lots of colorful and nutrient-packed Clean-Eating recipes over the past couple of years, and these power balls are my new clean alternative to the delicious-but-processed bar aisle!
On Thursday, I left you with a little throwback post of my mom’s Power Balls recipe. As promised, I recreated the recipe this weekend with some modifications to lighten the calories and fat content. Even clean recipes can be unbelievably high in calories, because nutrient-dense ingredients tend to be calorie packed. For example, chia seeds pack 60 calories per tablespoon, medjool dates 120 calories for 6 dates, and nut butters around 200 calories for 2 tablespoons. Though quality trumps quantity when it comes to fueling our body, I use bars and protein bites as snacks or pre-workout fuel so I would like to cut out some calories and fat where possible.
Substitute 1 Cup Powdered Peanut Butter (2/3 cup powder + 1/3 cup water) for 1 cup regular nut butter
*The process of dehydrating the nuts removes 75% of the fat content, leaving a 2 Tablespoon serving with 55 calories.
Substitute 1/2 cup of food-processed medjool dates + 1/4 cup agave for the honey as a sweetener.
Add 2 Tablespoons Chia seeds.
Remove 1/2 cup ground flax seeds (I don’t care for the stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth texture).
Optional: Add 1/2 cup protein powder of choice
Find your favorite mix-ins.
I used some clean, some not-so-clean mix-ins. This batch was broken up into 3 flavors: Chocolate Cherry Chunk, Pecan Chocolate Chip, and Coconut Pineapple. The chocolate chips aren’t considered clean and could be removed or replaced with cacao nibs if you want to be really strict about it. The possibilities for mix-ins are endless! Cocoa powder…goji berries…get creative!
Homemade Energy Bites:
- 2/3 powdered peanut butter (I used PBFit) mixed with 1/3 cup water
- 10 medjool dates, ground in a food processor to make date paste
- 1/4 cup agave nectar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1.5 cups rolled outs
- 1/2 cup ground flax seeds
- 2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds
- 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
- Mix-ins of choice: mini chocolate chips, pecan pieces, dried cherries, coconut flakes, protein powder, etc.
1.) There really aren’t any “directions”…..mix all above ingredients, roll into 1-inch balls, and store in the fridge or freezer! :)
Ready for the week:
I know you read the word ‘Giveaway’ in the title of this blog post and all you want to know is how to enter….but I’m going to make you read my new recipe first ;) It’s worth it, I promise! It’s Quest Protein Chip-Crusted Zucchini Sticks, bar food meets clean eating.
Happy Monday, by the way. :)
I can’t count how many times I’ve mentioned Quest Bars on this blog before because I genuinely love them so much. If you’ve tried them, then you understand the love. If you have not tried them (I haven’t persuaded you yet, huh?), then today is your lucky day. :) Quest has generously agreed to send one reader a prize package of its products, which you can read about below this recipe!
Quest Nutrition is all over social media with fun, healthified recipes that take typically-sinful desserts like cinnamon rolls and cheesecake and make-over the recipes into clean, guilt-free treats :) I’ve made several myself, though the easiest is by far the Quest Bar Crunchies – which apparently you like too….it’s been in the Top 10 Strong Like My Coffee posts in the last year!
Since the Crunchies were such a hit, I thought I would feature another recipe using Quest Protein Chips. The Quest Bars are certainly sweet-tooth killers, but these chips are for those salty, crunchy cravings. My efforts to create a simple, healthy version of a bar food snack resulted in this golden goodness:
These baked zucchini sticks have six ingredients and replace traditional greasy battered breading with crispy toasted protein-packed chips, spices and a hint of parmesan cheese. One tray made three servings, which were gone in a hot minute.
Macro/Nutrition Breakdown: 1 serving
- 112 calories
- 8 grams carbohydrates (predominantly from the zucchini)
- 3 grams fat
- 15 grams protein
- 2 grams sugar
- 2 medium zucchini
- 2 eggs whites
- 1 Tbs black pepper
- 1 Tbs garlic salt
- 1/4 cup freshly-shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 bag of Quest Protein Chips (I used sea salt flavor), crushed
1.) Preheat oven to 425 degrees; place a cooling rack on a baking sheet.
2.) Rinse zucchini; cut into thirds, then quarter each third.
3.) Beat egg whites in a small dish; set aside.
4.) In another small bowl, combine pepper, garlic, cheese, and crushed chips.
5.) Using a fork, dip each zucchini stick into the egg whites then into the breading mixture. Place on the cooling rack.
6.) Bake for 22 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.
7.) Best enjoyed immediately! :)
This would be a super quick snack to throw together if you’re having friends over, as an appetizer, or as a side dish.
Okay NOW the fun part…..you can enter the Quest Nutrition Giveaway to win a package of Quest Bars, all 5 flavors of Quest Protein Chips and all 4 flavors of Quest Protein Powder here!
Leave a comment on this blog post with your favorite sinful snack. That’s it! (I’m looking for inspiration for my next “health-ified” recipe.) One comment will be randomly selected to win. Make sure to follow @stronglikemycoffee and @questnutrition on Instagram for future giveaway announcements and #CheatClean recipes too :)
Contest will close Thursday June 11th at midnight, and a winner will be announced right here next Monday.
This morning I woke up at 4:00am. Try as I might, my body was not going back to sleep. I made myself lay there until 5:15. It reminded me of when I was a toddler and my parents put a clock next to my bed, teaching me to wait until 6:00am to get up on weekends ;)
Around 5:30 I was sipping my first cup of coffee. Now I have a few extra hours in my morning that I didn’t expect, so here I am. Thought I would put together one more spring break post before I break into some new territory with projects I’m working on for next week. A lot of my California friends have different spring break schedules and many are on vacation now, so I feel like it’s still appropriate to bask in the spring-y-ness one more time :)
Any college kid will tell you one of the best parts about coming home is family dinners. If not, then A.) they are lying or B.) their momma’s homecooking left a lot to be desired… (insert smirky emoji here).
You go 18 years eating the same kinds of dinners at home with your family, until suddenly you’re living on your own. Dining halls, communal kitchens, take-out, fast food, delivery, cooking for yourself….it’s just not the same. I’ve come a long way in following recipes and recreating family favorites, but eating by yourself in a tiny apartment will never compare to eating at home.
In 9 days, we only went to a restaurant once. My parents had LOADED UP on produce at my request (well, they usually do anyways) and we had the most colorful dinners.
I told myself that I was completely inspired to return from spring break and start cooking similar colorful balanced meals……and then I went and got three sushi rolls. It’s a work in progress.
My dad pumped up the tires in our bikes so that I could take a leisure ride around town and he could ride with me on my Sunday long run for the marathon training. I probably spent more time snapping pictures than pedaling. 90 degrees feels like heaven after a frigid Flagstaff winter.
And of course the sea-level (extra-oxygenated!) air did wonders for my marathon training. I was able to get in another great Yasso 800s workout on Wednesday, some cross training, and a killer long run. I set out for 15 miles on my favorite running path at home. This time, I had water and fuel along the way! I used the Vega gel for the first time, which is made with dates, water and grape juice rather than straight sugar like other brands. I felt better about putting something a little more “natural” in my body during the run…..but it didn’t taste great. Seemed to do the trick though because I ran my last couple of miles at 7:00 pace, averaging 7:18 overall.
(Yes, I used a picture from my Warrior Dash Race haha)
Also got to spend some quality time with my girl Missy….HAH whattajoke. That maltese of ours has grown quite comfortable being the “only child” now that I’ve been gone off and on for four years. She onced used to cuddle and love me. Now she has a jealous side whenever I visit my parents. She literally pouts when I take my mom’s attention away from her. (This is coming from a spoiled only-child herself.) She did watch me as I curled my hair, trying to imitate Miranda Lambert’s from the pool scene in her Little Red Wagon music video. Nailed Failed it!
Well this turned into a pretty random hodgepodge of pictures and tangents, didn’t it? Might as well add in a new jam that I’m loving!
*I’ll throw something more organized/themed at you next time. This is what you get at dark:thirty in the morning! <3
Kacey Musgraves, Queen of Country Cool, has been on my playlist since I heard her hit Follow Your Arrow. Biscuits is actually pretty similar, and equally adorable. Good message and reminder to stay focused on myself during the last weeks of college. We need less negative comparisons in our lives because that is just stressful. “Pouring salt in my sugar won’t make yours any sweeter.” Hope you enjoy it as I do. :)
What were/are your Spring Break highlights?!