Credit goes to Alton Brown on this one.  I try to find an array of foods from different sources to try.  At the moment, I got my pot roast cooking in the slow cooker, perhaps that’s another post.  This post comes from an episode where he makes granola bars and protein bars.  This recipe makes up 16 pieces, and apparently they can last in the freezer for up to 3 months.  If we were to buy 16 protein bars at the store, you’re looking at possibly $39-$52 depending on the brand.

What you see below is pretty much the best ingredients I could find.  The most expensive here was the soy protein powder, which I got at the sports nutrition aisle of Wegman’s.  It only came in flavors, so I grabbed the chocolate.  My guess is this stuff is supposed to be added to your morning power smoothie to make big muscles or something.  If I like this, I may have to source the soy protein powder online.

Why make this?

  1. Ingredients – I like controlling the ingredients in what I eat.  Most of the stuff you get in a package has ingredients which…in all honesty..might be chemicals, preservatives, or things like high fructose corn syrup.  I tried to find the best ingredients possible for this.
  2. Cost – Most of these ingredients I did not have to start with, so I may have had to buy larger packages just to get 4 oz from it.  For example, the soy protein came in 16oz and was $15 I believe.  So, I’m using $3.75 in Soy for 16 servings.  I might make them 8 servings, depending how little or big they are – but my guess is, to make 16 servings, it might have been $10-$12.  Or well under $1 per bar…pr perhaps up to $1.50 per bar if I double up.  You’ll see why below.
  3. Nutrition – each serving has:
    1. Calories: 154
    2. Carbs: 21g
    3. Protein 8.4g
    4. Fat: 4.79g
    5. Fiber 2.14g
If I like this, I might try and add some ground flax seed to future versions to up the Omega 3 and fiber, but not sure how baking it might disrupt the Omega 3 in the ground flax seeds.
Start off by getting two big bowls…one for dry, one for wet.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Dry team:
4 oz Soy Protein Powder (I used chocolate, but Alton did not specify)
2.25 oz of oat bran
2.75 oz whole wheat flour
.75 oz wheat germ (the store I went to was out, so I skipped this step as a disclaimer)
1/2 tsp salt
Wet team:
12.3 oz soft silken tofu (he did not specify soft or hard silken tofu, so I got soft.  Comes in 12 oz containers for like $1.99 each.  I’m using 12 oz and not cracking another container for .3 oz)
4 oz dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unfiltered apple juice (I just got mott’s 8 oz, have no clue where you find “unfiltered” apple juice)
2/3 cup of natural peanut butter (I just used skippy we had.  Sue me)
3 oz dried blueberries
3 oz dried raisins
2.5 oz dried cherries
2.5 oz dried apricot (I had to mince these, as they came in sort of decent sized donuts)
Combine dry team and make sure everything mixes together well.  I sort of forgot to do this.  Combine wet team so everything is fine and soupy.  Sort of looks like below.
Pour the dried into the wet and combine.  Add the fruit.
Then, grease a 9×13 baking pan.  Cut some parchment paper to fit in the bottom of it, and grease the top of the parchment paper as well.  Add the ingredients – looks like this:
So – the hope here is that the egg will eventually hold everything together.  You see ingredients like “silken tofu” and you get scared.  I’ve had tofu in some other things before and there’s no real flavor with it, it grabs the flavors of the things around it.  I hope.  Never used silken tofu before, this can be a short experiment.
Just took it out of the oven a few minutes ago.  You want to get it to 205 degrees…which for me translated to roughly 35 minutes – the same for Alton.  Here’s what it then looked like…
It was sort of bubbling a little, so I punched a few holes in it with the thermometer.  Don’t know if that’s a bad or a good thing, but I didn’t want some form of exploding tofu fruit cake exploding all over the kitchen.  So punched a few holes and saw some steam coming out.  I hope it’s ok….
Lastly…once it is cooled, you are supposed to be able to flip it upside down and pop the parchment paper right off, then cut into 4 equal pieces…then cut each one of them into 4 equal pieces.
Below, you see what it looks like when I flip it…
Notice the gaping crack in it?  Well, maybe when I flipped it I caused that…make sure you put a lid or the like over your pan, then flip into the lid and remove pan.  Silly me…
I also then got out my trusty scraper thingy.  Not sure what this is called but I use it a lot to scoop veggies off of my cutting board as well as cut things.
So I decide to cut it in 4…and then quickly screwed up the second cut.  Then realized Alton suggested a pizza cutter for this.  Yup.  Shoulda done that.
This was the final product, sans un por moi.
Overall, it’s really friggin good.  I think though for a “meal replacement” or the like, I’d probably double up.  Still…it packs amazing flavor, with almost a fruitcake type of taste with a cake-like consistency.  Sorry for the fruitcake reference, I actually really liked fruit cakes I’ve had – and the reference comes from the dried fruit which pack a major flavor burst.  I get some hints of the peanut butter, a little hint of the chocolate…but I forgot there was even silken tofu in this until I re-read through the ingredients list.
So if I double up, I’m approaching the calories of the more popular bars for “meal replacement”.  Let’s investigate doubling up…
  1. Calories: 308
  2. Carbs: 42g
  3. Protein 16.8g
  4. Fat: 9.6g
  5. Fiber 4.28g
Cost: maybe $1.25-$1.50 each and keep a few weeks in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.  Total time for me to make it was 12-15 minutes once I had the ingredients on hand.  I’m going to play with this recipe a little, but I like it.
Many times in the morning, I drink my coffee and I don’t want a big ass bowl of oatmeal…neither do I want a big bowl of cereal with fruit and milk.  Both of those options come in around 410 calories for me.  However, I fear being so hungry at 10:30 that I’m going to be hangry, so protein is a big deal for me to keep me from getting hungry.  This option, doubled up, provides a whopping 17g of protein and 4.28g of fiber to then carry me through the morning.  I’m going to try this as meal replacement tomorrow morning for my first couch to 5k workout this year, as I’m predicting the 42g of carbs will get me going quickly and the protein will help satiate me as well as help keep some muscle on me as I drop weight. Plus, it’s 100 calories less than my two other options and ridiculously quick to get.
Update: I just crunched the numbers on cost, and am very happy with the 16 serving sizes, no need to double up.  Below is the cost graphic in Excel since I don’t have fancy Photoshop programs -and no use for them.