Sweet & Salty Peanut Butter Protein Bites

Summer is drawing to a close and I for one, am NOT into it. As much as I love Fall, I want to keep Summer around for as long as possible (Pumpkin Spice Latte, I’m looking at you. You are TOO SOON).

While August has been hot and lazy days, my weekdays have been taken up with a new Boot Camp class and Meal plan. Five days a week, I pull myself together for a 5:30am class of Inchworms, Planks, Mountain Climbers, Burpees and other horrors fun.

Along with Boot Camp, I’ve been following the coordinating meal plan: 6 small meals a day of clean eating. Think lots of chicken, greens and berries. No sugar. Nothing processed.
While it makes for an easy plan to follow; it does not make for an exciting food blog.
Sorry, friend.

But fear not, over the weekend I was yearning to make something sweet. A treat that would fit in the meal plan but still satisfy as a treat, darn it, I have standards.

I found inspiration in Annie-Eats Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bites.
I loved the simple ingredient list and I had most things on hand.

But…..
I don’t really like chocolate
I didn’t want to add honey
I wanted to increase the protein content

So after a bit of tinkering, I made…

Sweet & Salty Peanut Butter Protein Bites

The verdict? These came out more like a delicious toasted Butterfinger candy bar than a granola bar. The texture had that melt-in-your-mouth, slightly crunchy quality of a buttery shortbread cookie. Toasting the oats, coconut and almonds really pulled out the flavor. Plus, peanut butter.  I had some Sugar-Free Salted Caramel Torani syrup at home, so I added some to amp up the sweet/salty contrast, but it’s completely optional.

These are on the healthy side with lots of good fat and protein and they’re perfect as pre-workout fuel or an after-dinner treat.  Or you know, taking to the beach as a snack.

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Because Summer ain’t over yet.

Sweet & Salty Peanut Butter Protein Bites
Adapted from Annie’s Eats  ~ Makes 24 – 36″ bites
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What You’ll Need: A positive attitude, you know, just in general. Shredded Coconut,
Sea Salt, Peanut Butter, Coconut Oil, Quick Oaks & Almonds. Torani syrup, optional. Decorative vase of lemons, not needed.

Ingredients:
2 c. Quick Cooking Oats
1/2 c. Unsweetened or Sweetened Coconut, shredded
1 c. Raw Almonds (Slivered or Whole)
5 tbs Coconut oil (plus one extra)
1/2 c. Creamy Peanut Butter (or Almond Butter)
1 scoop Vanilla Protein Powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 tbs Torani syrup (Sugar-free Salted Caramel, optional)
Coarse salt for sprinkling

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 350.  Line two baking sheets with tin foil.

On one of the baking sheets, spread oats, coconut and almonds, each in its own layer (ok if they overlap). Toast for 3 minutes, take pan out, shake/rotate and toast for another 1-2 minutes. The coconut and oats will toast FAST so do not leave these, they will burn and you will be sad. Once lightly toasted, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

In a food processor, quickly pulse toasted oats, coconut and almonds together until roughly ground. Pour toasted mix into large bowl.

In a medium saucepan, melt coconut oil and peanut butter, whisking until smooth. Stir in protein powder, vanilla (Toroni syrup if using) and pinch of salt and whisk until completely incorporated. You may want to add another tablespoon of coconut oil here to help everything smooth out.

Remove saucepan from heat and pour the peanut butter mix over the toasted mix and combine well (once it starts to cool, you can mix by hand to ensure all the liquid has been absorbed).

Shape dough into 1″ balls and place on the second baking sheet.
Sprinkle coarse salt over the tops. Refrigerate until set-up, about an hour.
Store in refrigerator or freezer.  Makes 24 – 36 bites.

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My artistic (shadowy) attempt at food styling.

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Get in my face, you gorgeous, non-chocolate, summery thing, you.

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