This is my last recipe involving peanut butter for awhile, I swear! I’m finally getting sick of the taste, which is a move in the right direction for me. My addiction to junk food had transferred to peanut butter for a few months. No part of me pines for sugary cakes or cookies any longer. It’s the silky richness of nut butters that get me. They give new meaning to the phrase “comfort food.” Peanut butter is certainly healthier than carby, sugary food, but the excessive intake of polyunsaturated oils or aflatoxins wasn’t doing my body any favors.
If you too have peanut butter issues, or if you don’t like the taste (gasp!) use almond butter or sun butter in this recipe. Almond butter has higher proportion of monounsaturated fats, so it’s an even healthier option than peanut butter. Admittedly, the real reason I’m not addicted to almond butter is the $12 a jar price tag. Alas, if only peanut butter were that costly a commodity.
This recipe was way too much fun to play around with, so I went a little crazy with the variations. The best part about it is the simple and readily available ingredients! You can use the microwave and get just one bowl dirty. If your mind hasn’t been blown yet, it will be when you find out this can be made dairy-free. Creamy unsweetened coconut milk is the magic maker for this trick. It will be a hint coconut-ty unless you use expeller-pressed coconut oil, but the texture will be just as dreamy.
These treats are smooth and peanut-buttery, with a salty crunch from the peanuts. They don’t really taste like Pay Day at all because they’re a hundred times better and don’t stick to your teeth. These treats are named after those corn syrup-filled bars because of the similarity in appearances. Don’t be fooled.
Mock “PayDay” Peanut Treats
Inspired by this recipe by “Blenders”
Makes 6 bars
1/4 cup peanut butter (no-stir type preferred)
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated shortening, unsalted butter, or coconut oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon heavy cream OR coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
sugar-free sweetener, to taste (I use NuNaturals stevia)
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional)
Add peanut butter, honey, and butter to a microwave safe dish. Microwave on high for one minute. Remove and immediately whisk in vanilla extract and heavy cream or coconut milk. Stir in sweetener, xanthan gum (if using), and pinch of salt. Taste and adjust if necessary. Fold in peanuts and drop in globs on to a pan lined with wax paper. Chill in freezer until firm, then transfer to refrigerator.
~6g net carbs per treat
For Peanut Butter Dessert Topping, whisk extra cream or coconut milk into “Pay Day” treat mixture ingredients until the sauce is smooth and light in color. Use almond butter for the most neutral taste. This sauce is also delicious made dairy-free. If you use coconut milk in place of heavy cream, there will be a subtle coconut flavoring. The sauce will be just as creamy, though. This would be heavenly over low carb ice cream. You could also dip apples or strawberries into it!
Ditch the polysyllabic ingredients of pre-packaged bars with these easy homemade protein bars. No refrigeration required! This recipe is easy on your digestive system, with no harsh sugar alcohols (maltitol is truly evil!) or an ungodly amount of fiber. It’s also pocketbook friendly since the ingredients are pretty cheap. Start with a quality whey (not soy!) protein powder free of artificial sweeteners and preservatives. I like Jay Robb or Jarrow Formulas unflavored whey protein. These protein bars may look like cookies, and they may smell like cookies, but they are NOT peanut butter cookies! I have a recipe for those and will get around posting at some point. I repeat, these are not cookies. They are dry and chewy because of the high whey protein content, just like real protein bars. If you’re using stevia, remember to make the dough a bit sweeter than you want the baked product to be.
Just for fun, let’s have a look at the ingredients for an Atkins Advantage Chocolate Peanut Butter protein bar:
Ingredients: protein blend [soy protein isolate, hydrolyzed collagen, whey protein isolate (milk), sodium caseinate], glycerine, polydextrose, dry roasted peanut, peanut flour, palm kernel and palm oil, cellulose, coconut oil, cocoa powder (processed with alkali), natural and artificial flavor, olive oil, butter oil, soy lecithin, maltodextrin, salt, guar gum, citric acid, sucralose, mono and diglycerides, dipotassium phosphate, acesulfame potassium. nutrition blend: tricalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, magnesium oxide, vitamin a palmitate, ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, cyanocobalamin, alpha tocopheryl acetate, niacinamide, biotin, calcium pantothenate, zinc oxide, folic acid, chromium chelate, phytonadione, sodium selenite. contains: soy, milk and peanuts.
I’ll admit to ingesting this frankenfood every once in awhile when I’m desperate for a sweet fix or on the road. It’s relieving to have a better option now!
Mock Protein/Atkins Bars
Makes four bars
1/4 cup natural peanut butter (any nut butter would work)
2 tablespoons organic unsalted butter OR coconut oil
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream OR coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract (I used NuNaturals)
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup whey protein powder (check for additives and carb content)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Add nut butter, honey, and butter to a microwave safe dish. Microwave on high for one minute. Remove and immediately whisk in vanilla extract and heavy cream or coconut milk. Stir in sweetener and pinch of salt. Taste and adjust if necessary. Stir in protein powder until mixture clumps together. Don’t worry if it separates and some of the liquid weeps out of the dough. Press mixture as flat as you can into a greased loaf pan. I like to place a piece of wax paper over the dough and press it flat with a smaller loaf pan. Bake for 8 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Let sit for 10 minutes in the pan. The dough will absorb all of the liquid that has bubbled up. Slice with a sharp knife and store in baggies. Does not need to be refrigerated.
~5g net carbs and 29g protein per bar
Take your protein bars to the next level. Melt some 85% cacao content chocolate and sweeten it with stevia, to taste. Paint it across the bottoms of the protein bars with the small end of a spoon. Place chocolate side down on a chilled pan lined with wax paper. Make a recipe of the caramel sauce and spread it over the tops of the protein bars. Press sliced almonds into the caramel sauce. Paint chocolate over the tops and sides. Chill to firm up the chocolate. Place in a baggy for transport in your gym bag.