It’s actually sort of bizarre that before this week, I’ve never owned or used protein powder.

I mean, I’m really into the whole health and fitness  thing (it’s my job!) AND I come across dozens of protein-powder-based recipes from some of my favorite fellow foodies and fit-bloggers everyday.

For example, Savannah’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Sludge. Or Sally’s Chocolate Covered Cherry Protein Smoothie. Or Katie’s Cake Batter Energy Bars. All of these protein-packed homemade snacks I’ve been dying to try, yet I kept tossing them to the side because of a lack of protein powder. Ridiculous!

Today I have good news, though! My protein-powder-less days are finally over.

Pure Protein recently launched a new line of products, and in addition to a few protein bars and shakes, were kind enough to supply me with my very first tub of protein powder. That means I’ve finally baked up a batch of my own homemade protein bars! (And that their will be plenty more protein-packed snacks coming out of the Hungry Runner kitchen in the very near future.)

The importance and benefits of including protein in your daily diet is not a topic new to Hungry Runner. I’ve certainly written about it here in the past. But just to reiterate, some of the best benefits of a protein-rich diet include enhanced transportation of nutrients throughout the body, hormone balance, acid-base balance, and muscle growth and maintenance. (Source: ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer.) The best way to include protein in your diet is through whole foods like lean animal meat and plants such as beans, quinoa, lentils, and nuts. (Read more about how a protein-rich diet can help you lose weight.)

Buuuuut, even I’ll admit that when you’re on the go, sometimes a bar or shake is simply more convenient. Like with almost any packaged snack, Pure Protein Bars and Shakes are something that I choose to include in my diet as an every now and then snack because they aren’t completely “clean.” However, as long as the majority of your nutrients come from natural, whole foods, there’s no reason to completely avoid anything and everything that is not considered a “whole food”. In fact, completely restricting yourself can sometimes lead to an unhealthy mindset about food. No one will ever have a “perfect” diet, which is why indulgence or convenience is OK on occasion.

What I love most about these bars is that they are only 180 calories and they are low in sugar (only 2g). I was pleasantly surprised at the taste of both the Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chocolate flavors for still tasting sweet despite having not much added sugar. (Read more about why it’s important to keep your daily added sugar intake to a minimum.)

I’ve found that the bars are a new favorite post-strength-training snack of mine because I can stash them in my bag and chow down on one while I’m on my way out of the gym. (Read more about the importance of post-workout protein consumption for gaining muscle and losing fat.)

Dessert Dilemma

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but, I sort of have an ugly sweet tooth that likes to rear it’s head when the sun goes down. It’s really hard for me to turn down dessert after dinner. And not only is it hard for me to pass up dessert, but when there are sweets around, whether I baked my own healthy version or it’s the real deal, it’s hard for me to eat only one serving.

However, last night I supplemented “dessert” with a Pure Protein Vanilla Cream Protein Shake. To my surprise, it turned out to be a perfect after dinner “sweet-tooth-satisfier.” I’m usually looking for some kind of chocolate cake or banana bread to nosh on after dinner, but when I’ve got stuff (usually homemade) like that lying around, it’s really easy for me to overindulge because breads and cakes are not all that filling. I’ll easily go for seconds and thirds without thinking twice about it. The Pure Protein shakes have just 170 calories and 15g of protein. By the time I finished it, my sweet tooth was fulfilled and I felt full and completely satisfied all the way up until it was time for bed.

And the same thing can be said for these cake batter bars. Adding the protein powder to them makes a whole world of a difference. Without it, I would probably eat 2 or 3 and still feel like I could dig in for more. But one of protein’s greatest powers is that it keeps you feeling fuller for longer, which helps prevent overindulging. Not to mention, the vanilla cream flavor of the protein powder is to die for and totally enhances the “cake batter” flavor of the bars.

I adapted this recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie’s Cake Batter Energy Bars. But before you head off to bake up your own batch, you can first enter to win your own Pure Protein Prize Pack. Just follow the instructions below to enter!

Pure Protein Prize Pack Giveaway

The Prize Pack includes:

  • 5 protein bars
  • 1 tub of Vanilla Cream Protein Powder
  • 12 Vanilla Cream Protein Shakes

3 Ways To enter:

  1. Mandatory: Leave a comment with a link to your favorite protein powder recipe. (Or one that you’d really like to try!)
  2. Follow Hungry Runner on Facebook
  3. Follow Hungry Runner on Instagram

Each task is equal to one entry. Leave a separate comment for each completed form of entry. (Total of 3 entries per person.)

The giveaway will be open until Midnight on Tuesday, February 26. I will use a randomizer to choose a winner on Wednesday, February 27th. The winner will be announced here on that day. If the winner fails to reply within 48 hours of being contacted, a new winner will be chosen. This contest is open to U.S. residents only.

*Update: The randomly chosen Pure Protein Prize Pack winner is Danielle, who commented:

Screen shot 2013-02-27 at 4.48.42 PM

Congrats Danielle and thanks to everyone who commented and entered! I cant wait to try all of the amazing recipes you all shared!

 

White Chocolate Chip, Cake Batter Protein Bars

(Adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie)

Ingredients:

1 cup rice crispies (I used Erewhon’s Crispy Brown Rice Gluten Free Cereal)

1/4 cup oat flour

1/4 cup Pure Protein Vanilla Creme protein powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons all-natural, creamy peanut butter

5 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

handful of white chocolate chips

Directions:

1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the rice crispies, oat flour, protein powder, and salt.

2. In a separate larger bowl, mix together the peanut butter, honey, and vanilla.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Toss in the white chocolate chips as you mix everything together well, until evenly coated.

4. Line a medium-sized baking dish or Tupperware with waxed parchment paper and pour the batter into the dish. Fold the sides of the paper over the batter and use a flat-surfaced heavy object to press the batter down until it is flat and fills the entire bottom of the dish.

5. Freeze for about 20 minutes.

6. Unfold the parchment paper, cut the batter into bars (I got about 9 small squares) and serve immediately or store in a sealed Tupperware in the fridge of freezer.


This post is sponsored by Pure Protein. Check out great ways to Eat Good and Look Great.