Make Your Own Meal Replacement Bars

20 Feb

Yesterday, I decided to take the concept of a No-Bake and run with it. My four-year-old spends all weekend begging for one junk food or another, even when he knows it’s off limits. This recipe combines flavors Jamie associates with his favorite treats (like peanut butter and chocolate), but packs a protein and fiber wallop he wouldn’t be getting from a cookie. Grown-ups can equally benefit from trading in regular day-to-day indisgressions (like that 3 p.m. Snickers bar habit) for one of these babies, and still feel like a treat was had.

In my version, I made use of texturized vegetable protein (TVP) to add protein and crunch, but you can just as easily crush up peanuts or almonds as an easily obtained substitute.

TVP granules can easily be swapped out for crushed nuts.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine 3 cups of dry old-fashioned oats with 1 cup of crushed TVP granules. (I just kind of mashed them with my hands — nothing hi-tech.)

In a microwaveable spouted container (like a glass measuring cup), combine 2/3 cup peanut butter, 1/3 cup honey and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Microwave for 30 seconds.

Pour the PB mixture over the dry ingredients.

To the heated mixture, stir in 1 teaspoon salt and any additional spice you’d like (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.). Stir in 1/2 cup milk.

If you’d like you can add sweetener of any sort to the mix. If you’ll be using chocolate, though, it’s unnecessary.

Use a spoon or hands to evenly coat the oat mixture.

Pour the wet mixture over the oat mixture in the bowl and stir until evenly distributed. If you’d like, you can throw in raisins or chocolate chips at this point. You could probably increase the milk by a little bit if you needed to, depending on your ingredients.

Press mixture firmly into a small baking pan.

Line a small baking dish with a piece of waxed paper large enough to come up all sides. (You can cross two pieces if necesary.)

Mash the mixture down into the pan, being sure to evenly fill all corners. Continue mashing until the mixture is densly packed and even. (This is similar to making Rice Krispie Treats.)

Cut the chilled rectangle into bars.

Cover the baking dish and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. (You can probably speed this up using the freezer, but make sure it is well covered to avoid humidity issues.)

When chilled, remove the pan from the fridge and use the waxed paper overhang to lift the rectangle out of the baking pan. It will come out as one big, pliable pieces.

Use a large knife to cut the rectangle into bars. (In retrospect, I could’ve turned this into 16 snack-sized bars, but I made eight large ones.)

A dollop of melted chocolate goes a long way when drizzled.

Keeping the bars on waxed paper, you can melt chocolate chips to use for drizzling or dipping if you like, or you can leave the bars as they are.

Refrigerate uneaten bars in an airtight container. They will keep for several days this way. Or, for the sake of transportability, you can seal the bars in individual small sandwich bags in the refrigerator for grab-and-go ease.

My picky four-year-old loved these, and I did, too.

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