A while back, as my photo shoot prep was approaching its conclusion, I started poking around online for some variations I could implement into my meal plan once I embarked on my off-season/growth phase. For some reason, I thought that making up some protein bars at home sounded like a good idea, in spite of the fact that I’d never tried anything even remotely like that before – so I started searching for recipes.
And what did I find? Frankly, I found a lot of awful recipes with macros that were even worse. Sorry, but 12g of protein doesn’t really do much for me – especially post-workout. They were also very fat heavy (I prefer to save my fats for later meals), and also the carb/protein ratio was way out of whack
So I got creative
So I figured hey, how hard could it be? I’ll just make my own. Now, if you know me at all, you know I am a grade-A dunce in the kitchen. Like one level above “toddler skills” when it comes to baking or general skill.
But the thing about this is that you’re basically looking to make a protein shake with a different consistency – the same rules about what works and what doesn’t – those still apply here. It’s very trendy to use pureed dates as a binder for protein bars these days (look at Larabars, RX Bars, etc), and while I’m a big fan of that approach (dates are a GREAT source of micronutrients), it’s just a bit too pain-in-the-ass for me to be something I’d do on a regular basis. If I have to get out the food processor, that’s the equivalent of having to take in your car for a transmission flush. Once every handful of years at best.
I told you, I’m pathetic in the kitchen. Believe me yet?
How my plan got shot to hell
My master plan involved making some no-bake protein bars that I could batch up, put in the fridge in a baking dish, and cut up into individual servings after they solidified. Before getting that in-depth, I thought I’d try a few individual test runs to see if the recipe I had in my head was actually going to work and, you know, be edible.
Well, my first attempt came out better than I could have possibly hoped for, it was amazing. And in fact, I’ve never taken this concept BEYOND that single-serving stage. It’s easy enough to whip up that I just do it as needed and forego the refrigeration and portioning, and basically just…chow down on the batter.
How we do this thing
Here is the recipe for what I show in the video and the associated macros:
- 1.5 scoops Isopure lactose-free whey protein
- 3 TBSP PB2 (dry mix)
- 1/2 cup gluten-free oats
- 1/4 TBSP honey
- Dash of cinnamon
- Couple drops almond extract
Macros come out to 49/44/5 P/C/F. The great thing about this recipe is it’s 100% scale-able depending on your macros needs. Need less protein? Dial back on the whey. Fewer carbs? Cut down on the oats or ditch the honey. Need more fats? Replace the PB2 with actual peanut butter or almond butter. There’s no baking involved so there’s no magic ratio between ingredients that you need to maintain. So long as you use more/less water to keep everything mixable, you’re going to be in great shape. Add your ingredients as a recipe in MyFitnessPal and let it do the math for you, and adjust until the macros are precisely where you want them.
Ok, this seems like a lot but realistically once you get the routine down you can do this whole thing start to finish in about 2.5 minutes. I recorded the video above about a week and a half before typing out the rest of this post, and since then I’ve refined the process even more – so without further ado!
Step #1 – measure dry ingredients and add water
In the video I mixed up the PB2 separately, but this is completely unnecessary. Add the PB2 dry mix, protein powder, cinnamon, and sugar-free Jell-O all in a medium-sized bowl, add a splash of water and stir.
Don’t be too aggressive with the water – add a SMALL amount and stir, if it isn’t enough it will be obvious and you can add more. If you overdo it, you’ll either have a gross, watery mess on your hands, or have to add more dry ingredients and then your macros are screwed.
When it looks like the photo above, we’re ready to move on – if it’s a little watery at this stage that’s ok, when we add our carb later it will act as a binder and thicken the mixture up quite a bit.
Step #2 – add the non-dry ingredients
Specifically this is where I add the honey and vanilla extract. For the honey I just add about 1/4 teaspoon, or 5g on the food scale (and no teaspoon to clean out afterwards!) – the vanilla extract just gets a few drops, it doesn’t take much for a single serving recipe like this.
Step #3 – add your carb source
Nothing fancy here, just measure out your carb and stir it in. I told you this was easy, right? I wasn’t kidding! For this recipe and the macros above I used gluten-free rolled oats. Same macros as regular oats but my stomach tolerates them much better.
And tada! The finished product:
Ok, so full disclosure. I’m a bit of a garbage gut and I couldn’t help but try some different carb sources just to experiment. Here’s what I’ve tried so far:
This is using plain Rice Krispies in place of the oats. A nice and welcome change in texture – I imagine using Cocoa Krispies would be AMAZING but I couldn’t bring myself to buy a box of those, it’d be like visiting a crack dealer when I’m trying to get clean. Interestingly enough, these are NOT gluten-free – they contain malt flavoring which is derived from barley, which contains gluten.
This is using Cinnamon Toast Crunch as the carb source. Do I even have to talk about how awesome this was? I should think not. One more while we’re at it…
Yep, I went there. That’s half of a Lenny & Larry’s Snickerdoodle cookie mixed in as the carb. At this point you’re not really in “macro-friendly” territory most likely unless you’ve got fats to spare, but if you’re just in the mood to have something that is good as hell then you’re on the right track with this – and it shows that the possibilities really are endless.
Keep in mind that, especially as a post-workout meal, bringing in some sugary options for carbs isn’t evil. So if you want to crumble up some Oreos, Chips Ahoy, or whatever – go for it! My main concern revolves around keeping those items in the house and controlling myself the rest of the day. But if your willpower is stronger than mine, go for it!
Bring it on home
Look for more recipes like this coming soon. Flexible dieting is an awesome thing to incorporate into your bodybuilding journey – being able to work in foods like this as a regular thing even when you’re on prep is a POWERFUL factor in building a meal plan that feels sustainable.
I strongly encourage all macro-based dieters to build the basic blocks of their plan around clean, whole food options – but throwing in something like this especially as a post-workout treat is not going to kill you!