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No-Bake Choco-Crunch Protein Bar Recipe - nut-free, gluten-free

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So as many of you know, my oldest son has a nut allergy. We discovered it when he was a toddler so he has grown up with it and, thankfully, is extremely cautious and reads labels even more carefully than his label-reading-crazed mother. This year, he's running for the high school cross country team. He has been running for the past 3 years (much to my awe since I can't run down the street..clearly got that talent from his dad). But expectations at the high school level have been stepped up a few notches. He is now running 25-30 miles a week. Yipes! For a child with a microscopic BMI, burning that many calories is a challenge. Layer a nut allergy on top of that and, well, you can see my conundrum.

Needless to say, I have been "pinning" to Pinterest any recipe I can find for high energy, healthy-ish, portable, nut-free, no-refrigeration-needed snacks. Yep - not easily found. But they are out there - either ones I tweak or ones that are good as-is. (My board: http://www.pinterest.com/ggskincare/granola-bars-protein-bars-and-other-healthy-snacks/) I have to make them because there are VERY few options out there for nut-free pre-packaged bars. The most recent recipeI found has gotten the "thumbs up" from the runner boy. As with all of the bar-type recipes I use, I like this because you can play around with it.

The original recipe that I started with is here: http://ohsheglows.com/2013/08/29/quick-n-easy-no-bake-protein-bars/

Nut-free Choco-Crunch Protein Bar

Nut-free No-Bake Choco-Crunch Protein Bars

Note: if you choose your ingredients carefully they can be gluten-free and even dairy-free, vegan and/or raw as well!


  • 1/2 cup sunflower butter (or substitute soybutter or a nut-butter if it doesn't have to be nut-free)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate syrup (store-bought or homemade) - this is what makes it chocolatey OR you can use any liquid sweetener of your choice (maple syrup is great, or use honey or agave)
  • 1/2 cup protein powder (I have been using a combination of Trader Joe's Organic Chocolate Hemp Powder and Whole Nectar Organic Protein Smoothie Mix - you could also use non-fat dry milk or egg white powder)
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup crisp rice cereal
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1 tsp coconut oil and 3 T chocolate chips to melt and drizzle.

I find it best to start by gently warming the sunflower butter in the microwave for 30 seconds in a medium sized glass bowl to make it easier to mix. Add the chocolate syrup (or sweetener) and vanilla and mix until combined. Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the rolled oats. Pulse/grind until they are a little chunkier than oat flour. Add the protein powder and salt and pulse to combine. Then add the chocolate/sunbutter mixture and turn the food processor on. Mix until well blended. If it is too crumbly add water 1 tablespoon at a time. It should be the texture of cookie dough. Add the cereal and pulse gently (you don't want to crunch all the crunch!).

Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment or waxed paper. Spread the mixture into the pan. Here's the only tricky part - it needs to be pressed well. If you have a small roller you can use that, or the back of a spoon. But I find the easiest way is to lay parchment on top of the mixture then press another 8x8 pan on top and keep pressing until the bars are flat and even. 

Put the bars into the fridge or freezer to firm up. If you would like, melt the chocolate and coconut oil together and drizzle onto the bars. This is yummy but can get messy in the heat. Once they are firm, cut into 10-12 bars (cut one horizontal cut across the middle then 4 or 5 vertical cuts). Wrap individually and store in the freezer or fridge to keep them yummy - but they do not have to be refrigerated so they are perfect for lunches or after school/pre-run snacks!

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