Part of being healthy is eating well. Part of being alive in the world right now is having less time to prepare meals.
As I mentioned in my first installment of Steve Cooks, I’m looking for good, healthy alternatives to store bought protein bars. I started with a reasonably good recipe, but wasn’t happy with the taste. It was too sweet for me, and a little bland. Not bad, by any means, but not great. So, I’m working on other recipes.
This go around, I started with a recipe from the UK. A very nice lady named Lou who trains in Kung Fu and more recently MMA posted her recipe for flapjacks. Now, here’s the funny part. Brits don’t speak English either. Turns out, if you’ve spent any amount of time corresponding with Brits, they talk funny, and any comments they make about Americans butchering the Queen’s English must be made tongue firmly in cheek. Case in point, flapjack. Any American understands that a flapjack is a big pancake. Seriously. EVERYBODY knows this. Sheesh! Turns out, in the UK, a flapjack is like a big cookie bar or something.
Here’s her original recipe:
3 tbsps honey
140g brown sugar
50g sesame seeds
50g sunflower seeds
flax seeds (I sprinkle them on top)
Heat the butter,sugar and honey in a pan. When melted,add the other ingredients and place in a baking tray.Cook at 180C for about 15 minutes.
The first difficulty I ran into was conversion. I don’t speak metric. So, imagine my surprise when I started converting the recipe above into a scale that I understand. Holy moly! We’re talking over a stick of butter. Dayum!
I made a batch of these and I have to say, they’re DELICIOUS. But, they don’t do the job if I’m trying to put together a protein bar. If you look, there’s very little protein in this recipe at all. They tasted awesome, and if the intent is to have something that will stick to the ribs, the oats in this will do that job well.
Here’s what I did. Using Lou’s recipe as a base, I made some substitutions for ingredients that I have on hand, are better suited for a lower carb/higher protein bar or I just like better.
After doing some conversions, and some substitutions for ingredients that I prefer, I ended up with something like this:
Oatmeal Flapjacks a la Steve
1 Cup natural applesauce (substitute for the shortening/butter)
1 Cup applejuice (to add a little more liquid to the mix)
3 Cups rolled oats
1/4 Cup dried cherries
1/2 Cup packed brown sugar
2 tbs flax seeds (ground)
4 scoops chocolate protein mix
3 tbs agave nectar
I mixed the dry ingredients up in one bowl and the wet in another, then mixed them all together and baked them in a 9×13 pan at 325F for 40 minutes.
I ended up with 12 bars. According to my math, they have about 211 calories each, 22g carbs and 12g protein per bar. Not too bad, although I’d like to reverse the carbs to protein. I substituted Natural Applesauce for the Butter in the original recipe. I also switched cherries for the raisins, just because I had them on hand.
The other main substitution was to use Agave Nectar in lieu of honey. Agave Nectar is delicious and can be used as a substitute for any kind of sugar, honey or other sweetener. I heard about it from a friend who is a vegan. I guess vegans love it because it’s good and isn’t an animal derivative like honey. All I know is that it’s good in just about anything, including oatmeal.
I added some of the protein mix, as well, to provide some needed protein to the recipe.
The bars are delicious, in my opinion. They’re thin, almost like an oatmeal cookie, crunchy on the outside and chewy inside. They’re also quite sweet, but it’s not the maple syrup sweetness of my last bars. These are, again, more like a cookie. Still, they could be less sweet and just as tasty.
I really like this recipe and plan to tweak it. I want to bump up the protein content in the cookie, and reduce some of the carbs. As I said, if I could get 15 grams of Protein and around 10 or so grams of Carbs per bar, I’d be happy. I’m not too worried about these carbs as they are mostly derived from the Rolled Oats, but it’s the carbs from the brown sugar, agave nectar and other sugars that I’d like to minimize.
So, next time I make this, I’m going to add some protein from whey concentrate, reduce the amount of brown sugar to 1/4 cup, and back off of the agave nectar a little as well. I’m also going to use dried cranberries instead of cherries. This will help reduce the sugar amount, as well, but still provide a little texture.
Finally, the plate shot with the garnish is for Linda. My kids read your comments on my last recipe and gave me all sorts of hell for not considering presentation. My daughter said (I kid you not), “You know, Dad. Presentation is half the meal.”
Ratings (out of 5 stars):
Ease of Prep: ****
If you give these a try or have any other suggestions, leave me a comment and let me know what you think.