High-Protein Pumpkin Trail Mix Bars

A grab-and-go nutritious snack can save your whole day! These tasty fruit-nut bars are bursting with crunchy freshness, huge flavor, and high-protein superfoods that commercial energy bars can’t touch. Pack them for a hike! I made a big 9 x 13 pan so I could freeze leftovers. If you do that, take a few bars out of the freezer the night before, heat them briefly the next day for a healthy breakfast or snack. These are gluten-free and grain-free, made with low-sugar apples. And since there’s no dried fruit, these bars won’t spike blood sugar or cause weight gain, if you use one of the suggested non-glycemic sweeteners.

Trail Mix is always better with chocolate chips. But chocolate chips are loaded with sugar. Even so-called “healthy” dark chocolate chips are 50% to 75% cacao, which means they’re 25% to 50% sugar. Eeek! That’s a huge problem because all sugars destabilize the body metabolism, which is an invitation to disease. Look for Pascha 100% Cacao Organic Dark Chocolate Baking Chips Unsweetenedavailable in healthy groceries or online at Vitacost.com. The Paleo diet is sugar-free, and so are Pascha 100% chocolate chips. Yay! Yield: a 9 x 13-inch pan, 24 to 30 bars depending on how you cut them.

High-Protein Pumpkin Trail Mix Bars




    Apple-Nut Filling:
  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a 9 x 13 baking dish with parchment paper so it hangs over the sides like handles. I secure it with photo clips.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the apples and nuts BRIEFLY into coarse chunks. You want the pieces large, not mush, for a nice crunchy texture. Empty the processor contents into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Wet Ingredients:
  4. Add to the empty food processor the eggs, ginger, orange zest, vanilla, maple, pumpkin (or squash or sweet potato), coconut or almond butter, and sweetener. Process until completely liquified and smooth.
  5. Dry Ingredients:
  6. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients: almond meal and/or nut milk pulp, protein powder, salt, spices, and chocolate chips. Add the wet ingredients and the fruit-nut filling to the mixing bowl. Mix briefly by hand, spoon into the baking pan.
  7. Bake 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack 30 minutes. I suggest chilling them in the pan for 1 hour so they cut cleaner without crumbling. Enjoy!

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