I spent almost 3 days this week searching the ‘Net and through my cookbooks for a recipe for Lemon Protein Bars, or lemon-coconut protein bars, or lemon meringue protein bars. And while I could find lots of recipes for Lemon bars (of various sorts) and I could find recipes for protein bars with coconut, and I found one recipe for Lemon coconut protein bars, with Crystal light drink mix powder in it.
So, then I sat down with the protein bar recipe that I have used in the past, and started substituting on paper, to see how it sounded and if it seemed to work together. What spices do you put with Lemon? Well, really, if you have lemon and coconut, you just want vanilla in there.
The other big dilemma was the sweetener. I don’t like agave syrup, and I didn’t want the smokiness of maple syrup (besides Maple and Lemon are two tastes that deserve their own space, not to have to compete with each other). Honey again, like maple syrup has its own flavour and we really wanted to Lemon to come through. We settled on evaporated cane juice or crystals. You can use more if you want, as these bars are not sweet like what you might get in a commercial protein bar. In fact they almost beckon for a little bit of icing sugar drizzle on them. And for the kids, I just might do that.
The final product reminds me a bit of a gentle sweet bread my friend Kay used to bring in her lunch when we were kids. Her family was from Barbados, and I don’t remember what it was called, only that I loved it when she shared it with me. Or if I went to her house to play and her Mum gave us some for a snack. Not too sweet, but oh so good.
Here is what we came up with (my tasters and I ).
Please note: if you have Lemon extract on hand, it would be good to use it. It will give that extra shot of lemon flavour that will take these to the next level.
Lemon Coconut Protein Bars
Preheat your oven to 325F. Lightly spray a 9×13 pan with oil (mild flavoured oil like grapeseed or canola). Please note to any of you out there who ownPampered Chef’s large bar pan, don’t use it. It is too big.
1 cup Vanilla Isapro, or other vanilla protein powder
1 cup spelt flour (or almond flour)
2 cups rolled oats, ground coarsely in the food processor or small chopper
1/2 wheatgerm or oatbran
1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened)
1/2 cup evaporated caned sugar, with 2tsp removed and set aside
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups smooth unsweetened applesauce
zest from 2 lemons
1/4 cup lemon juice, essentially the juice from 2 lemons
1/4 cup coconut oil (softened, melted slightly)
1TBSP (or so) Pure vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten or the equivalent amount of” flax eggs” or other egg replacement
1 tsp Lemon extract (optional)
Put all dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
Put all wet ingredients into a smaller bowl and mix well.
Add the wet to the dry and mix until well combined. I used my stand mixer and gave it about 5 turns and then took it off and finished mixing with a rubber spatula.
Place mixture in the pan, and spread and press to smooth evenly. Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden and firm to the touch in the middle.
Juice 1/2 lemon and combine with the reserved 2 tsp of evaporated cane juice. Using a toothpick, poke holes all over the bars and drizzle with sugar lemon mixture. Cool about 15 minutes in the pan and then cut into 18 bars, about 3×2. Place in container lined with parchment (and between the layers) and freeze those you aren’t going to use right away.