Can you believe that there’s such a thing as healthy chocolate? If so, you’ve probably heard of dark chocolate, which is high in antioxidants. But why is dark chocolate any healthier than other kinds of chocolate? Unlike other chocolate, pure (100%) dark chocolate has no milk solids in it, which is good because milk actually counteracts the benefits of the antioxidants in the dark chocolate. While it is ideal to use 100% pure dark chocolate, it may not be realistic when it comes to taste. Rule of thumb: 70% is a good minimum to aim for!
What better way to promote the benefits of dark chocolate than to introduce it to my fellow chocolate-loving, college students in Student Health 101‘s October issue? This issue features “snacks that stick to your ribs,” so, naturally, I created my video about protein bars. The #1 reason why I love these protein bars (besides the fact that they give me an excuse to eat chocolate): there is no baking involved! It’s times like these when I come to appreciate the blender and its versatility.
Another reason why this recipe rocks: there are only a few ingredients in it! This is an important difference to note between homemade protein bars and the manufactured ones you can find in stores that try to appear healthy. When you feel like you just read a chemistry experiment after reading the ingredients list, you should avoid eating it. You should always be familiar with the ingredients in your food (and be able to pronounce them, too!).
This recipe calls for cashew butter, but sadly, my Trader Joe’s no longer carries cashew butter. However, you can easily replace it with almond butter or brazil nut butter (or any healthy nut butter). I used almond butter in mine and they tasted great!
These low-carb, high-protein snacks are also best to have right after a workout. (On a side note, I just started taking a pilates class and I absolutely love it! If you haven’t taken a pilates class before, I highly recommend it for a healthier body and mind. Not only do I feel its effects on my body days after, but I notice I am always in a better mood after pilates.) To learn about the health benefits of these protein bars, you can watch my video (or, you can also view the current issue of Student Health 101 here).
Cashew Butter Protein Bars
Makes 12 bite-sized bars
1 cup cashew butter (or another nut butter)
1/3 cup fat-free plain yogurt
1/3 cup 100% whey protein powder
1 tablespoon vanilla bean extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Zest of an orange
1/3 cup dark chocolate
Place all ingredients (except the dark chocolate) in a blender and pulse until combined. If need be, add more yogurt so that the consistency is not too dry.
Divide into twelve small bars and place on a tray lined with foil. Refrigerate until firm (about 20 minutes).
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the dark chocolate in 30-second intervals until smooth, stirring after each interval. Dip the bars into the melted chocolate, drain off any excess, and place onto the foil-lined tray. Allow the chocolate to harden and serve (or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator).