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:
You are going to love today’s post :) Following this new fun recipe, you will find a special giveaway to enter!
Sometimes I get into a dinner rut, making the same handful of recipes every week. On Sunday, I took advantage of a few extra hours in the late afternoon to “play” in the kitchen. You already know I love to “health-ify” recipes, and this time I tried my hand at creating a light low-fat Thai Peanut Sauce to go over stir fry veggies and brown rice noodles.
Spending some time in the kitchen, cutting up veggies and making my own sauce is a refreshing alternative to staring at a laptop or binge watching TV shows. While I was listening to music and taking blog pictures of my bell peppers, I thought “So this is what post-grad life is like….” I’m so used to spending my Sunday nights doing homework, studying, or getting ready for class on Monday. I can get used to this new schedule! :) Especially if it means more meals like this one.
This Thai Peanut Sauce reduces its fat and calorie content significantly by using PBFit rather than regular peanut butter. Most sauces and dressings pack an exorbitant amount of calories, fat, sodium, and sugar. I’m a huge fan of homemaking sauces when possible to reduce excess fat and sodium, and eliminate funky chemicals and preservatives. PBFit is a powdered peanut butter that reduces its fat content by 75% by dehydrating the peanuts and squeezing out its oils. It is perfect for this recipe because it still retains all of the peanut-y FLAVA we’re looking for! Other modified ingredients included a lite, organic coconut milk and a reduced-sodium soy sauce.
- 1/2 cup PBFit pre-mixed with 1/3 cup water (extra thick!)
- 1/2 cup Lite Organic Coconut Milk
- 2 Tbs Reduced-Sodium Soy Sauce
- 1 tsp. (heaping) minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp minced ginger
- Juice of 2 lime wedges
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1.) Whisk together peanut butter and coconut milk.
2.) Whisk in soy sauce, garlic, ginger, lime and red pepper flakes.
3.) Set aside sauce until you are ready to add to your stir fry veggies.
Oh my gosh, I was so happy with this sauce! The peanut and coconut flavors are amazing, with just enough spice from the red pepper flakes. This tasted like the sauce at Thai restaurants…I would love to try it as a dipping sauce for chicken kabobs next time.
I don’t think there’s such a thing as “too much” vegetables, so stir frys tend to be 70% veggies, 30% rice/noodles. I sliced and diced:
- Matchstick Carrots
- Julienne Yellow Squash
- Sliced Red Bell Pepper
- Sliced Sweet Onion
- Sliced Scallions
- Chopped Broccoli florets
- Sugar Snap Peas
1.) In a large skillet, heat 1-2 Tablespoons of organic extra virgin coconut oil.
2.) Add in vegetables and continue to stir over medium-high heat for 7-10 minutes. (I like mine a little crunchy!)
3.) Add Lightened Thai Peanut Sauce, stir, and remove from heat.
4.) Serve over rice noodles, rice, quinoa, spaghetti squash, or another equally-delicious base! We used Annie Chun’s Brown Rice Noodles (though it’s really up to your personal preference! These were pad thai noodles and seemed to fit together nicely with this dish.)
Any dinner with four or more colors is a winner in my book! I learned a while ago that the quality of our food should not be sacrificed for cost or convenience, if possible. Pre-made sauces and meals just can’t offer the nutrients and health benefits that whole fresh ingredients can. Obviously it isn’t practical to homemake 100% of our sauces, dressings, and condiments but we can make healthier choices by reading nutrition labels, sticking to serving sizes and making alternatives when available.
And now for the giveaway…
I honestly love PBFit so much that I want to share it with you, and BetterBody Foods generously agreed to provide the winner of today’s giveaway below with a complete package of ALL its amazing goodies. BetterBody Foods products are organic, non-GMO and healthier alternatives to daily ingredients. This gift package includes:
- PBFit (it’s life-changing)
- Chocolate PBFit
- Organic Naturally Refined Coconut Oil
- Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
- Organic Chia Seeds
- Organic Quinoa
- Organic Coconut Flour
- Organic Coconut Palm Sugar
- Organic Agave
- Organic Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla (yum!)
To enter this giveaway:
You can earn up to 3 entries by completing one or all of the following: 1.) Leave a comment on this blog post with your favorite way to use peanut butter. 2.) Follow Strong Like My Coffee on Instagram and leave an additional comment saying you did so! 3.) Follow BetterBody Foods on Instagram and leave an additional comment saying you did so. Easy as that :)
This giveaway will remain open until Thursday at midnight. One winner will be randomly selected and announced right here on Friday!
*BetterBody Foods is sponsoring this giveaway, however the recipe, opinions, and photos are mine. :)