This post is sponsored by our friends at Vital Proteins.
Our no-bake Pumpkin Spice Protein Bars are packed with fall flavor — and just 8 real food ingredients!
The Pumpkin Spice Protein Bar: Making a good thing even better
I won’t lie. Bars in crinkly wrappers are pretty much a mainstay in my crazy busy mom-blogger life these days. It seems I’m always grabbing one from the pantry to tuck into a lunchbox, a backpack, my gym bag or into the cooler for a road trip. They’re just so darn convenient. And more often than not they’re saved me (and the kids!) from pitching a hangry fit in parking lot or along a trail.
Curious as to which ones we eat? See the bars we love most in this post
But even with all the great choices out there, the dietitian and mad kitchen-scientist in me felt compelled to 1.) improve on one of my family’s favorite bars (and to indulge my love of all things pumpkin right now) and 2) make a bar that was technically Whole30-friendly as long as it’s enjoyed occasionally and not used as a crutch to prop up an after-dinner or mid-afternoon sugar craving.
My kids love Larabars. Probably because they’re so sweet and soft and come in tons of flavors. I think they’re pretty good too except for one thing: They’re lacking in the protein department. They’re really just carbs and fat – and simple carbs at that, thanks to all that dried fruit. And If I’m going to grab a bar, it had better be balanced and that means carbs, fat and protein!
Currently there are only 2 bars out there that aren’t meat-based that are technically Whole30-compliant – Larabars and RxBars. Well, I already mentioned that the former is too low in protein and the latter happens to made with egg whites (there goes that egg allergy ruining all the fun again) – so neither are a good fit when I need something after CrossFit or when I get stuck running errands or when I’m out on a hike with friends. Until now, that is!
Less sugar + more protein = big win
If you search Pinterest for ‘homemade Larabars’ you’ll get a million different recipes that involve a bunch of dates, nuts and other dried fruits. Which is great – the ingredients are super clean, they’re easy to make and you can make them pretty much any flavor your heart desires. But all that sugar from dried fruit starts to add up -even ‘natural’ sugars can spike blood glucose levels setting up up for crash + cravings. There I go with that sugar thing again.
So to lower the sugar, I used fewer dates and made up for the moisture by adding pumpkin puree. A pretty simple hack that produced a bar that’s just sweet enough to be satisfying without being dessert-like.
And to add protein, I added a generous scoop of my favorite Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides because, unlike protein powders, it won’t change the texture or flavor of the bars. Adding protein makes these bars more satisfying as a snack and more appropriate for use as a way to support recovery after exercise. Yes!
If you’re new to collagen peptides check out this post about the health benefits of collagen. I literally use it everyday in some way – in my coffee, a smoothie, soup, etc. to support my bones and joints and I’ve even noticed much thicker and stronger hair and nails since I’ve been using it.
Bring on the pumpkin!
You can whip up your own batch of Pumpkin Spice Protein Bars in just 15 minutes – with only one bowl and no baking!
The fruit and nut mixture should come together in a ball when you pinch some between your fingers. If not, add a few drops of water and process again – repeating this step until everything holds together well without being sticky.
Pumpkin and protein never looked (or tasted) so good!
You don’t have to wrap them with pretty little bows though the parchment paper does keep them from sticking together during storage or in a lunch container. But if you do make them pretty why not share with a friend who could use a little pumpkin spice love today?
- Place all ingredient (except pumpkin seeds) in the bowl of a food processor.
- Process until mixture is crumbly yet still holds together well when pinched between your fingers.
- Press mixture into the bottom of an 8×8-inch pan (or onto a parchment paper-lined baking) sheet. Sprinkle with chopped pumpkin seeds, pressing them lightly into the surface.
- Cut into 8 bars. Wrap in parchment paper and store in a covered container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
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- Serving Size: 1 bar
- Calories: 175
- Fat: 8g
- Sodium: 41mg
- Carbohydrate: 18g
- (Fiber: 3g
- Sugar: 14g)
- Protein: 9g
What’s your favorite protein bar and when are you most likely to eat it? Give us the scoop in the comments below!
Product used in this recipe: Collagen Peptides
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