In my personal life, I’ve been working on something this summer. Something I wasn’t too thrilled about at first.
I’m taking this Dave Ramsey money class. Ever heard of it? It’s a bit preachy, but the strategies are changing my life.
I actually still cringe when I say the word budget (so boring!), but it’s come to a point where I look forward to sitting down with Kevin and planning our week. I like having the control instead of my money controlling me.
One of the first things you need to do when you budget is find out where your money is going. So when I realized that I spent almost $28 on bars at the grocery store each week, I was sick to my stomach.
I’m actually a bar freak and even though I don’t do much processed foods, I do rely on bars for workouts and snacks.
Protein bars, granola bars…I love them all, and since I’ve spent loads of time finding the healthiest choices, I discovered only a few I like. I love Vega bars and recommend these to my clients, but the bars are almost $4 a pop.
It was painful to say no to my usual Vega staple. I just couldn’t bear not have them in my life. I couldn’t even think about it. Seriously. But they didn’t fit into the budget so I had to figure something out.
Well, I decided to follow the 80/20 guideline and only buy a few to eat after my long workouts. On regular days when I didn’t exercise or just needed a granola bar for a snack, I decided to find a cheaper way to fuel my body.
I’ve been making these Yay Bars and they are really working out great.
I wanted lots of protein so I added hemp, and I used less brown rice syrup than anticipated. I don’t like too sweet.
Healthy, no processed sugar or isolated proteins, and energy boosting. And inexpensive to make, too. Yay Bars have it all. Oh and it only takes 5 minutes to make them.
You can add different kinds of dried fruits, raw nuts, gogiberries, and even nut butters. Substitute pea or rice protein powder, too, and try some ground flax seed for Omega 3 goodness. And add coconut flakes if that excites you. Experiment and see what you come up with.
2 cups gluten-free rolled oats (Bob’s Red Mill GF brand is my favorite)
1/4 cup hemp protein powder ( I used Nativas Naturals)
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup cacao nibs (a little somethin’ somethin’)
1 cup raw almond butter
1/4 cup brown rice syrup (or raw honey)
In a large bowl, mix oats, hemp, seeds, raisins, and nibs. In a separate bowl, whisk together nut butter and syrup. Pour the mixture into bowl with dry ingredients. Mix well until everything is sticky. If too dry, add more nut butter.
Press mixture into a shallow 8×12 baking dish. Make sure to line and cover dish with foil or wrap.
Place in fridge for 3 hours. Cut into bar shapes, wrap, and keep refrigerated until ready to eat.
Makes approximately 12 bars (depends on how big you slice~ I like them huge!).
Note: There is approximately 8-10 grams of protein for each Yay Bar.
My belly AND wallet are sure happy!
Now if you have to get bars at the store, be careful. There’s a lot of crap in Luna, Natures Valley, Cliff (although they are trying with their new ingredients), and Balance bars.
Here’s what to avoid:
- soy or whey protein isolate (stick to anti-inflammatory plant-based protein like hemp, pea, and rice)
- evaporated cane sugar, cane syrup
- thousands of ingredients
- and extra soy products (like soy chips…what are those anyway?)
*Note: Take a look at the labels out there; most brands are high in sodium and sugar.
- LaraBar (only 5 ingredients and you can recognize the ingredients like cashews and dates and there tons of flavors to choose from)
- Vega (still has a lot of ingredients but I like the sprouted buckwheat, chia seeds, and the 15+ grams of protein for workouts) in the Sport. The Vibrancy bars are also good.
- Two Moms in the Raw (I dig the natural, simple ingredients such as organic pecans and walnuts, blueberries, goji berries, too).
These are my top 3 and they are tasty. You know how some bars can have you gagging, but these are delish.
*Note: Don’t Google “healthy granola bars;” you find some crazy sh*t like Planters and Snack Wells. My blood is boiling! So stick to plant-based, gluten-free brands with clean ingredients mentioned above.
Keep in mind:
- Don’t go overboard with any bar, even the Yay Bars. You can have 3 big Yay Bars a day. With others try just one a day or limit to 4 times a week if the sugar content (even if it’s natural sugar) is high. Try for 9 grams of sugar or less.
- Protein and granola bars are quite different. If you really want to fill up after a workout or need to supplement with a meal, go for a protein bar. Sometimes I eat half of the Vega bar before my workout and then the other half after.
- The Yay Bars make a delightful after school snack now that back to school is here!
Do you dig bars too? Which one do you absolutely recommend? Make sure to jot it down in the comments. I love gathering up ideas.
PS. I know the Yay Bars will make your “I love it!” list.:)
Oh my gosh I looooove this recipe!
I have everything here to make the Yay bars 🙂 you’re a genius Lisa.
I am so excited you’re helping us be budget conscious too, eating healthy definitely can be done on a budget.
Hugs and love sweet Lisa, you’re and inspiration,
I hope you make the bars, lady! I can’t get enough of them. AND thanks to your advice, the class is really eye opening…love you lots, my friend. xo
Hey, girl! Thanks for the recipe. Perfect timing for me. 🙂
I revisited the ingredient list for my favorite brands. (Lara ALT and UBER, VegaSport, Kind, Bumble Bar) The sugar really sneaks in there! Do you know the sugar content of the Yay bars? I’m going to make them this weekend.
Talking protein powder: Do you use the Vega Sport protein powder? I’m looking for a vegan protein powder for recovery smoothies. Do you like the hemp protein for smoothies? What’s your fav?
Hope you had a great summer! xo
It totally does…I was floored about the Vega I love so much so that is why it’s more like a treat instead of everyday. As for these bars, the estimated sugar content is 8 grams. You can take out the brown rice sugar and just use the almond butter, but it might be too crumbly for you. Experiment and let me know what you come up with. I do use Vega for my protein powder. I’ve also switched to pea and hemp protein lately if I just want the boost instead of all the bells and whistles with Vega. My fav is is the Vega chocolate. Hope things are well with you. Thinking about you all. xo
I’m so happy I had all of the ingredients on hand. Made these today and they are so stinkin’ good. I will be making these consistently. The only thing is, they are super crumbly. They didn’t stick together for me and I even added a bit extra almond butter. Oh, and I used coconut nectar. Delish. As for the Dave Ramsey, we are doing his program. We actually downsized and moved into an apartment so we could pay off debt. It really is a sacrifice but so rewarding!
So awesome, dear sweet, Mara! AND so happy to hear from you.I’ve been wondering how you are doing lately.:) I would add more brown rice syrup if yours are too crumbly. It took me a few tries to get the right measurements but adjust to your liking. And what do you think of the program? It really got me into budgeting and knowing where my $ is going…although wish there was a more spiritual component (such as dealing with more Uni-verse as supposed to bible) or maybe more talking about money being just another form of energy, the same as air, etc…BUT an amazing program. We are learning a lot. AND congrats for downsizing…that is smart of you guys. It will totally pay off in the end. We can do this! xo
Seriously… YAY!!! These bars are amazing.
Oh yeah, seriously…these are goooooood. AND so happy you like them, sweetness.:)
Girl! I am making my second batch! So awesome! I eat them right after my workouts! You rock! Thank you!
Babe, how you light up my life! SO happy you love them! I’ve been adding flaxseed to them lately for extra omega 3 boost. Love you, sweet Marissa.
I am a bar junkie! I use Vega One bars in the morning as an out the door breakfast but the sugar is high. I like that they somehow have a serving of greens?? I may be fooling myself on this one but I trust that Brendan guy for some reason!!! I am totally making these!!!
Jen, did I ever tell you how I have a crush on Brendan? Every year he comes to WF and I stalk him! My husband just shakes his head. 🙂 The sugar is natural in the bars, but I still feel that it is too high for my taste. I usually eat half after a workout now. Hope you get to make these tasty treats, my sweet friend! 🙂
So I am trying to recreate something my teeneage daughter loves – Nature Valley Trail Mix Dark Chocolate Cherry Bars. They are soft. I think I’ll try your recipe but subbing what’s in the ones she likes – almonds, dried cherries, dark chocolate – while keeping the total volume of dry ingredients the same. But one question: I have everything (even brown rice syrup) but I don’t have protein powder. Could I leave it out, or sub it with something else dry so they don’t end up being too sticky? I hate to waste ingredients on trying to come up with my own recipe in case it’s a failure. (That’s why I don’t have a food blog and instead look to the pros like you!)
Kimberlee! I’m so excited to get your note…I’ve been thinking of you. I love your subs, esp. the dried cherries. You can leave the protein powder out, no prob. I would use less syrup and test the consistency. Sometimes I add flax so try that and play with the syrup. They shouldn’t be so sticky. Can’t wait to see a pic of how beautiful (and delish) your bars are! Hugs!
Just made these & lov’in this recipe!! Thanks so much, Lisa.. will def make again! I subbed unsulphured apricots for the raisins, and used a sugar-free chocolate bar (made with stevia) instead of cacao nibs (I just cut up some of the bar). I also added a pinch of sea salt to the dry ingredients, ’cause that’s how I roll! My batch didn’t really hold together that well, but I think I will do better next time! I’m thinking I may heat the combined nut butter & liquid sweetener using the double-boiler method, so that’s it’s “runny” & easier to combine with the dry ingredients. Looking forward to experimenting again! I may try putting some of my crumbly batch in a bowl with hot non-dairy milk, and eating like oatmeal cereal!
Great to hear you LOVED the Yay Bars, Leena! Sometimes you gotta work the subs so keep trying…I know I sometimes have to add more syrup to make it a bit more sticky. AND a pinch of sea salt is a great idea! The balance of the sweet and salty equals lots of yumminess. 🙂