Welcome to another exciting entry in Steve Cooks, where I work on recipes related to general health and fitness. Yesterday, I went back into the lab... err... kitchen for yet another attempt at a high energy, protein bar. To recap, I'm trying to make a bar that is relatively low on carbs, very low in fat and high in protein. I am not in any way advocating a low carb diet. This is less like the South Beach and more of... let's call it the South King County Diet. Down here in South King County, we like carbs. Of course, most of those carbs are from onion rings, steak fries and beer, but what are you gonna do?
I am trying to create something that is relatively cheap to make, holds well in the fridge (at least 2 weeks), tastes pretty good and has a decent, palatable texture. So, I'm avoiding ingredients like milk and eggs to increase the shelf life. I'm also trying as much as I can to avoid anything with a scientific sounding name. I'd like to be able to identify the ingredient as food without pulling out a chemistry book.
Before I get into the actual recipe, I thought it might be interesting to provide a little insight into the creative process. Basically, I'm a cook, not a baker. A baker, as I've learned over the years, is careful and meticulous. In order to bake something delicious more than once, you have to measure things precisely. Cooking, on the other hand, is more about pinches of this and smidgens of that.
So, when I'm making these recipes, it's really about mixing the ingredients until I get a good vibe, scratching down how much of each as I go and fiddling until it "looks about right." It's like having my childhood chemistry set back... except nobody calls poison control when I take a bite of this stuff.
Because my mom used to freak.
So, without further ado, here's the latest expirement:
Once again, I mixed the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet ingredients in another and then added the wet to the dry. Mix up into a batter and bake in a 9"x13" baking dish at 325F for about 35 minutes.
The texture of this bar was a little more cakey than the last, which I liked even better. It's a bit dense, which makes me wonder if I should add a teaspoon of baking powder to the mix next time.
I really liked the flavor. Using the Whey Protein Concentrate in lieu of the Chocolate Protein Mix was a good move, and allowed me to use the cinnamon and the vanilla for flavor. I brought the batch to work and my guinea pigs... err... coworkers gave me rave reviews on this one. Overall, I would call this recipe an unqualified success and am going to add this one to the recipe file.
Ratings (out of a possible 5 *'s) Nutrition: ***1/2 Texture:*** 1/2 Flavor: ****1/2 Ease of Prep: ****
One last thing. I've been working toward getting the carbs down around 10 grams and the protein up in the 20 gram area. This might be an unrealistic goal. I looked at the nutritional information for some of the more popular, commercial bars on the market and found that I'm actually doing pretty well. This recipe ended up with even more carbs than the last, at about 36 grams of Carbs per bar, but the protein jumped up to 16 grams per bar. But it's a much better product, I think. I'm still going to work on shaving carbs from the recipe, but most of the carbs in this recipe come from the raisins and the oatmeal. Roughly 2/3rds of the carbs are from fiber, and 1/3rd from sugars. The sugars are natural, from the agave nectar and the raisins, so not all bad.
So, there ya go. I'm right in there, and my bars are about half the price. In future recipes, I'm going to work in some different ingredients. Wheat germ has a lot of protein vs carbs and I'm going to see what soy protein tastes like in lieu of whey protein. The soy protein has a lot more protein per serving than the whey and costs about $9/lbs (as opposed to the Whey Protein Concentrate at $15/lbs).
As always, this is a work in progress and there's no ego involved. If you make them and don't like them, let me know. Even better, let me know what you would do to make them better. I've received a lot of email and have tons of ideas for future recipes as a result. Of course, like most people, I thrive on positive feedback, so if you DO like them, I'd like to hear about that, too!