Search Results : label/steve cooks

May 012008

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:

Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bars

3 Cups Rolled Oats
2 1/2 Cups Whey Protein Concentrate
1 Cup Raisins
2 Tbs Cinnamon
2 Cups Natural Applesauce
1 Cups Apple Juice
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tbs Agave Nectar

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: ****

Overall: ****1/2

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.

Below are some comparisons:

My Delicous Oatmeal Bar ofWholesome Goodness

  • 16 g Protein
  • 36 g Carbs
  • 1 g Fat
  • 233 Calories

PowerbarProteinPlus Bar:

  • 23 g Protein
  • 37 g Carbs
  • 6 g Fat
  • 290 Calories

Powerbar Oatmeal/Raisin Performance bar:

  • 9 g Protein
  • 44 g Carbs
  • 2 g Fat
  • 230 Calories

Organic Food Bars(Omega-3 Flax):

  • 10 g Protein
  • 31 g Carbs
  • 16 g Fat
  • 310 Calories

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!

 Posted by at 5:08 pm
Apr 192008

Part of being healthy is eating well. Part of being alive in the world right now is having less time to prepare meals. Stupid world.

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:

125g butter
300g oats
3 tbsps honey
50g raisins/sultanas
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):

Texture: *****
Flavor: ****
Ease of Prep: ****
Nutrition: ***

Overall: ****

If you give these a try or have any other suggestions, leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

 Posted by at 11:39 am