Peanut Butter Banana Protein Bars

It seems like just two days ago I was pondering what I would do with the second half of my four-week winter break, yet here I am packing to head back to Madison tomorrow. I’m so ready and excited to go back, but I have to admit it’s nice to be home with no responsibilities. While I was grazing in the pantry between loads of laundry, I realized we had a plethora of random ingredients in the kitchen my family won’t eat while I’m at school, so I got to experimenting with my new food processor.

If you know me, you know I love all things breakfast food and I’m also a major snacker (my friend once bought me a shirt that says “Okay, but first, snacks”… and nothing has ever described me better). I decided to make some yummy breakfast/snack bars to bring back to school with me, since we don’t get served breakfast in the house and the snacks tend to be sugary granola bars or Poptarts. I could have made Trail Mix Balls again or found a recipe elsewhere, but I wanted to try something new. Since I’m always on the hunt for easy, on-the-go snacks and for new ways to combine the flavors of peanut butter and banana, I came up with these Peanut Butter Banana Protein Bars.

PEANUT BUTTER AND BANANA. Try to name a more iconic duo – I dare you. We had a super overripe banana sitting around that I knew would be thrown away if I didn’t use it ASAP, so that’s where I got the inspiration for this recipe. I used a base of oats, dates, banana, and peanut butter, then just sort of started adding things to the recipe until I got the right consistency. These bars are no bake, gluten free, vegan-friendly, and have NO added sugar (not even honey)! Plus, they’re full of protein and fiber, so they’re a healthy, quick, and filling breakfast on-the-go.

What you’ll need:

1 ½ cups oats

5 pitted medjool dates

½ cup peanut butter

1 overripe banana

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (or unflavored and add 1 tsp vanilla extract)

¼ cup flaxseed meal

Optional: coconut oil and semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips for drizzling over the top (vegan if desired)

Now what?

  1. Put the oats & dates in a food processor/blender and process until the dates are finely chopped.
  2. Add the peanut butter & banana and blend again until the mixture is a very sticky consistency.
  3. Last, add the protein powder (I used a vanilla whey/soy blend we had, but haven’t tried these with other kinds) and flaxseed meal.
  4. Blend everything together until you have a thick dough, then transfer the mixture to an 8×8 baking pan and press down firmly so the bars are uniform thickness.
  5. Pop ‘em in the freezer for 30 minutes, cut into 10 bars, and drizzle with chocolate if you so please (would highly recommend)!

The result: an ooey-gooey protein bar with a similar consistency to cookie dough. You can taste the banana in them, but it’s definitely not overpowering. Plus, nothing beats that peanut butter + banana combo, and obviously, chocolate gives it a little extra oomph. Keep them in the fridge up to a week for the best results – this way they won’t dry out and the chocolate topping won’t melt. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

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