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No-Bake Pumpkin Protein Bars are an easy fall treat. They combine the delicious flavor of pumpkin and chocolate with a protein boost from protein powder.
These healthy pumpkin protein bars are chock full of protein and flavor. And you can make them with less than 20 minutes of active prep. They are truly a meal replacement bar and are great for breakfast on the go.
Who Eats Protein Bars?
In this day and age, the better question would be, who doesn’t eat protein bars? While they can definitely be overused, protein bars have a place in people’s eating plans. Especially if they are meant to replace a meal. Plenty of athletes enjoy protein bars, but the average person can also use them to their benefit. Just don’t overdo it, and make sure that you are replacing a meal instead of taking in a lot of extra calories.
Are Protein Bars Healthy For You?
The truth is, some are, and some aren’t. It all depends on what’s in them. Some store-bought bars might as well be labeled as candy bars, while others are actually fairly decent in the nutrition department. Even homemade protein bars can be questionable if you are dumping a lot of sugar into them. So while it all depends on the ingredients, they can actually be a pretty healthy option if they are done right.
One of the main benefits of eating pumpkin is the fair dose of beta-carotene. According to Medical News Today, pumpkin may help with:
- reducing your risk of getting certain forms of cancer.
- regulating blood pressure
- protection against asthma and heart disease.
- decreasing your risk of age-related eye problems
- preventing and controlling diabetes
For 1 cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin, you’ll get:
- 49 calories
- 1.76 grams of protein
- 0.172 grams of healthy fat
- 12 grams of healthy carbs
- 2.7 grams of fiber
- 5.1 grams of natural sugars
- 17 mg of beta carotene
- 24.0 grams of calcium
How Can I Add Pumpkin To My Diet?
Pick your favorite pumpkin recipes and start cooking! You don’t have to cook pumpkin from scratch to get the benefits. 100% pure, canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) is readily available and is great in so many different recipes. It pairs well with many different spices (not just pumpkin pie spice!) and is great in protein bars, oats, cookies, and cakes.
What Spices Pair Well With Pumpkin?
- pumpkin pie spice
- chili powder
- Cajun spice
- cayenne pepper
- black pepper
What Nut Butters Can I Use Instead Of Peanut Butter For These Pumpkin Protein Bars?
Try one of the following:
- almond butter
- sunflower seed butter
- cashew butter
Are The Protein Bars Gluten-Free?
They can be if you purchase all gluten-free ingredients. The recipe itself doesn’t call for specifically wheat-based products such as wheat flour. So it’s all about making sure the ingredients you buy are appropriately labeled.
Can I Make These Dairy-Free?
Sure! Just use dairy-free chocolate and make sure the protein powder doesn’t have dairy added (such as whey protein powder).
Can I Make These Vegan?
You can! Just make sure your protein powder and chocolate are vegan.
Is Protein Powder Clean?
No. Protein powder is processed. You can’t grow it on a tree or bush. That said, you’d be hard-pressed to get most clean eaters to give up their protein powder. So my suggestion is to choose your protein powder carefully.
How Can I Reduce The Calories?
These are supposed to be high in calories. They are meal replacement bars for those days when you have to grab something on the go. But if you want to reduce the calories, there are two things you can do:
- Use a quarter of the chocolate and simply drizzle it over the top instead of using it as a layer.
- Cut them into smaller snack sizes.
About The Ingredients
Pumpkin puree – Not pumpkin pie filling. Canned pumpkin works fine, or you can use homemade pumpkin puree without anything added to it.
Peanut butter – Or other nut butter or seed butter.
Oil – I used avocado oil. But you can use any oil you’re comfortable with. Coconut oil will work well here too.
Pumpkin pie spice – No sugar added. Just spices.
Ground cinnamon – No sugar added.
Salt – I used pink Himalayan salt. You can use whatever salt you want.
Pure vanilla extract – The real stuff. Not vanilla flavoring.
Maple syrup – The real stuff. You can also use honey if you prefer that. You can use any liquid sweetener you prefer. Honey is a good option too. I used a sugar-free maple syrup made with xylitol because that’s what works best for my blood sugar. Use what you’re comfortable with.
Oats – You want whole oats, not oat flour. While quick-cooking oats are somewhat processed, they are the better choice for this recipe overall.
Ground flaxseed – It’s best if they are freshly ground.
Vanilla protein powder – Read the ingredients carefully. Not all protein powders are created equal.
Dark chocolate chips – I used Whole Foods 365 Sugar-Free chocolate chips. Lily’s Stevia-Sweetened Baking Chips are also an excellent choice. Use what you’re comfortable with. If you can find a good quality white chocolate version, white chocolate chips will taste good here too.
Gather and measure all the ingredients.
Combine the pumpkin puree, nut butter, avocado oil, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, maple syrup, oatmeal, ground flaxseed, and protein powder in a large bowl and stir until combined.
Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and spread the pumpkin base into the pan. Press the contents down evenly into the pan. Place into the fridge to chill while you prepare the chocolate topping.
Add the chocolate chips to a small bowl and microwave in 30-second increments to melt the chocolate, stirring in between each 30-second interval until the chocolate is melted. Once melted, pour over the pumpkin base and spread evenly.
Optionally, you can sprinkle chopped nuts or sprinkles on top while the chocolate is still melted.
Place into the freezer to set, about 15 minutes. Remove from the freezer and remove protein bars from the pan by lifting the parchment paper.
Cut into 7 bars with a sharp knife on a safe cutting surface. Make the cuts as equally spaced as you can.
Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee.
Storing Pumpkin Protein Bars
Store these in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 or 6 days.
Freezing Pumpkin Protein Bars
Pack these well and store them in the freezer for up to 4 months.
What Are Some Really Good Protein Bars?
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No-Bake Pumpkin Protein Bars Recipe
- 1 Standard Loaf Pan
- 1 sheet parchment paper
- 1⁄4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- ½ cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
- 1 tbsp. oil
- 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp. maple syrup
- ½ cup oats
- ¼ cup ground flaxseed
- ½ cup vanilla protein powder
- ¾ cup dark chocolate chips
- Combine the pumpkin puree, nut butter, oil, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, maple syrup, oats, ground flaxseed, and protein powder in a large bowl and stir until combined.
- Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and spread the pumpkin base into the pan. Press the contents down evenly into the pan. Place into the fridge to chill while you prepare the chocolate topping.
- Add the chocolate chips to a small bowl and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring in between, until the chocolate is melted. Once melted, pour over the pumpkin base and spread evenly.
- Optionally, you can add sprinkles or chopped nuts on top while the chocolate is still melted.
- Place into the freezer to set, about 15 minutes. Remove from the freezer and remove protein bars from the pan by lifting the parchment paper.
- Cut into 7 bars with a sharp knife on a safe cutting surface. Make the cuts as equally spaced as you can.
- Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee.