Last Friday, I didn't have to go to work. I was so excited by the idea of a week-day all to myself, that I couldn't decide the best way to spend my time. I ran through my entire mental list of things I tell myself I would do if I didn't have to go to work (build? sew? produce food? write a novel? create music? become fit? save the world?) and finally settled on catching up on some quality couch time with the cats, housework, washing laundry, and baking to stay warm. It was perfect!
While I would have loved to bake pies, cakes, and cookies on my day off, I tried to remember that I will not want to carry any cakes or cookies up a mountain during our summer hike, so I restricted myself to baking more protein bars. I started by spreading a mixture of almond slivers, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut, and crushed cocoa beans on a baking sheet and toasting them. Filling the house with the smell of toasted nuts was wonderful.
The toasted nuts were lovely, smelled great, and tasted great, but what I didn't expect was the sounds they make. A bowl of nuts right out of the oven crackles and pops like a bowl of rice crispy's! I'm not sure why this makes them taste better, but it does.
After I was done tasting them, I put the remainder in the food processor and ground them until they looked like bread crumbs. The recipe I was following also said to use some almond flour. Since I didn't have almond flour, I also ground some un-toasted almond slivers into a course flour. I measured out some almond butter too. These protein bars are really like almond patties.
When Brandon started going to the gym regularly, he wanted to add some protein powder to his vegetable smoothies. The main ingredient in most of the protein powders that are sold for weight lifters have sugar as their main ingredient, and use soy protein. There are so many scary warnings about eating unfermented soy on the interweb that drinking it by the scoopfull didn't seem like a good idea. So, Brandon selected unflavored and organic whey protein. I added some of his whey protein powder to the nut mixture.
I also added some healthy coconut oil, and two eggs, fresh from the nest box. Brandon thinks I'm deluded, and that I can't really tell Mrs. Halls eggs from June's eggs, but I think I really can. The egg at the top, which is larger and speckled, is Mrs. Halls. The egg on the bottom is smaller and has no speckles, so it came from June. I don't know why he doubts me. It's so obvious, right?
A little vanilla, a little honey, and a big scoop of raisins, and the protein bars were ready to be spread in a dish, sprinkled with more coconut, and baked. I would not say these are easy to make. There are many steps, and many dishes dirty, but since I had an entire day off work - who cares!
And in the spirit of leisurely baking on a cold winter day, I decided to layer the bars under the glass cake dome using snow flakes cut from freezer paper between the layers.
It's been a long time since I cut paper snow flakes, so my skills were a little rusty.
By my third attempt though, I was sufficiently impressed with my snowflake that I wanted to pose it by the window for photographs.
The final verdict? The snow flakes were fun and toasted nuts are wonderful, but these home made protein bars do not taste like cookies. They are dense, and a little too dry. They were eaten, so they weren't bad, and they are actually quite filling. I think my next batch will get more honey, and more fruit, and I will be more careful to not cook them too long.