It's Spring, and for our family, I know what that means. We need more food. I have two teenage sons who have started the high school swim team season. They want carbs and protein, and I want them to be the good kinds of carbs and protein. They need portable food, since they leave for early morning workouts at 5:50 am, have school (during which my son who isn't done with his growth spurt yet takes weight lifting), then have after school swim practice and maybe get home at about 5:50 pm. Often there's just time for a quick meal before they're off again to scouts or a concert or some other event.
Though portable and packed with carbs and protein, I didn't want to buy them the protein bars you find in many brands nowadays. Besides the prohibitive cost for really very little food, they are basically souped up candy bars full of refined sugars, flours, and chemicals (read the labels, but not when home alone late at night, they can be scary).
Here is one of the top bars on the market: the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Promax Promax bar (not a typo, they say it twice) that I could find for a discounted $1.29 each if I bought a box of them online.
Ingredients: Promax™ Protein Blend (Non GMO Soy Protein Isolate, Calcium Caseinate, Whey Protein Concentrate, Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Concentrate, L-Glutamine, L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, L-Valine), Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Chocolate Flavor Coating (Sugar, Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil, Cocoa, Whey Powder, Nonfat Milk Powder, Soy Lecithin, Natural Vanilla Flavor), Chocolate Chips (Sugar, Unsweetened Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Natural Vanilla Flavor), Natural Peanut Butter, Canola Oil, Cocoa Crisps (Non GMO Soy Protein Isolate, Calcium Carbonate, Cocoa Powder), Guar Gum, Brown Sugar, Salt, Non GMO Soy Fiber, Oat Fiber, Natural Flavor., Vitamins & Minerals: Dicalcium Phosphate, Magnesium Oxide, Ascorbic Acid, D-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate, Ferrous Fumarate, Niacinamide, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Gluconate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Cyanocobalamin. Contains: Peanuts, Milk And Soy. May Contain Eggs, Nuts And Wheat.
Now I confess, I don't know what most of those things are, but I certainly am all too familiar with corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, and brown sugar. Really, they had to put in all four? The protein sources are highly refined as well, the main ingredient being a soy isolate (read a little about soy and health concerns here). Certainly nothing qualifies as eating "close to the farm" as health enthusiasts encourage. Granted a lot of those ingredients are vitamins and minerals, but I think I have a better alternative.
1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour (or flour of your choice)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt (sea salt is better)
3/4 cup (1/2 a can) white beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup liquid (water, apple juice or milk)
1/4 cup honey or agave nectar
1/8 cup olive oil
6 Tbsp. milled flax seed (optional and variable)
Combine first 3 ingredients in mixing bowl. Combine all the rest in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add to mixing bowl and mix. Then, if necessary, add 1/3 cup or so chocolate chips. Makes 1 dozen. Spray muffin tin (or use papers) and cook at 400° F for 18 min.
Now you probably at least recognize all of those ingredients and know them as healthful. Beans=protein and vital nutrients; whole grain=energy, vitamins, minerals, & fiber; banana=vitamins, minerals, complex carbs, & fiber; unrefined sweeteners and healthy oils=energy a body and can use without abusing it; and flax seed seems to be todays wonder health food. Of course the chocolate chips are a flat out bribe and I leave reading that label up to you. My little ones would be happy with chopped dates, a healthier and sweeter option. (I make a few muffins for myself before adding the chocolate chips for the teenagers.) I used Great Northern beans, but you can use any bean. I only say white because of the color. You could probably use black beans, throw in a little cocoa powder with extra sweetener and call them chocolate muffins.
Whoever is home for the after-school snack gets to eat them fresh from the muffin tin, but the rest I package in baggies of 2 or 3 and put in a gallon storage bag in the freezer. If I want those left overs, though, I have to double it. (I chose to use 1/2 a can of beans for easy doubling--you can use a little more or less really.) Then at 5:50 am they grab a bag from the freezer, and it's thawed and ready to eat and give them healthy fuel before after school practice.