PBJ Breakfast Bars

Why are these bars so fantastic? Because they taste like an indulgent treat, when really, nutritionally, these are suitable for breakfast (or any meal for that matter.)

These are a wonderful way to get some good protein to start your day. The protein in this dish is coming from your peanut butter and ricotta. I also love the addition of flaxseed and chia seed for their wonderful micronutrient contribution, including manganese, calcium, and copper.

Both are also very high in omega-3 fatty acids (the same fat found in fish) and, surprisingly, fiber! Make sure to grind your flaxseeds. Do this because flaxseeds have a hard outer shell, which makes it difficult for our bodies to digest and access the nutrients inside the seed.

A quick lesson on protein!
It’s important, particularly if you do not consume meat, to get enough protein throughout the day and at each meal. We are literally comprised of protein- remember the saying “you are what you eat”. Well, this is true!

Proteins make up virtually everything in our body; hormones, enzymes, muscle, neurotransmitters…the list goes on. Aka PROTEIN IS ESSENTIAL IN THE DIET.

Sometimes there is this (misconceived) idea that if we reduce our protein consumption we will lose weight, or that by eating a lot of protein, we will gain muscles on muscles. While it’s true that excess protein will gain you something, it’s not muscle, it’s fat! Excess of any macronutrient (carbohydrate, protein, fat) will ultimately get broken down and converted into, and yes, STORED as fat.

But alternatively, lacking protein in your diet is no good either – our bodies continually break down proteins which is why we require them constantly, if we aren’t consuming these protein building blocks (amino acids) in our diet, our body will continue it’s protein breakdown and you will start to lose your muscle mass.

 As a general rule-of-thumb and to make the world of protein requirements a bit easier, calculate how much you weigh in kg (divide your weight in lbs. by 2.2) and multiple this amount by 0.8. This will give you the amount of protein, in grams, that you should be consuming a day.

To put that in perspective, I require around 45 grams of protein per day.
1 TBSP of peanut butter contains 4 grams of protein
4 oz skinless chicken breast contains approximately 30 grams of protein
¾ cup plain 0% Greek yogurt contains 18 grams of protein
3 TBSP of hemp hearts contains 10 grams of protein

You get the idea! Typically, those who eat meat do not have a hard time meeting their protein requirements, often exceeding it, actually. It takes a bit more work for those who are vegan and vegetarian to meet requirements. Luckily, this dish helps with that!! Meat eater or not, this dish is delicious and will keep you full, satisfied, and GUILT-FREE.

PBJ BREAKFAST BARS

NO NUT CRUST

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 8 large medjool dates, pitted
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 TBSP coconut oil
  • Splash of almond milk (if mixture is too dry)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. In a food processor, grind rolled oats into flour
  3. Add ground flax, and pitted dates until chunky dough forms
  4. Add remaining ingredients and process, dough should be sticky
  5. Add dough to greased 8X8 square pan
  6. With fingers, press dough to sides and evenly around pan
  7. Cover with foil and place in fridge to set while you are making your filling

PEANUT BUTTER AND RICOTTA FILLING

 Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup chunky natural peanut butter
  • 1 ripe large banana
  • 1/3 ricotta cheese
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract


Instructions:

  1. In a food processor, blend all ingredients until smooth
  2. Add PB filling to crust and set back in the fridge while making jam

BERRY CHIA JAM

 Ingredients:

  • 2 cups frozen mixed berries
  • 2 TBSP chia seeds
  • ½ tsp maple syrup (optional)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp coconut oil (optional)
  • Splash of water

Instructions:

  1. In a large saucepan, add berries and cook on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, add a splash of water
  2. Add remaining ingredients and cook on low until chia seeds have swollen and the mixture has thickened
  3. Crush berry mixture in sauce pan until you have a thick chunky “jam”
  4. Remove from heat and let cool before adding on top of PB layer
  5. When cooled, pour jam on to PB layer and spread evenly.

OAT CRUMBLE TOPPING

 Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 TBSP coconut oil
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until oats are evenly coated.
  2. Sprinkle oat crumble on top of PBJ bars.
  3. Bake PBJ bars for 45 minutes in oven.

 

Author Note: Feel free to experiment with different add-ins such as dried shredded coconut, hemp seeds, slivered almonds, whatever you prefer in your oat crumble!

 This dish also can turn in to a no bake recipe! Instead of baking in the oven, cover your squares and let them set in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours, overnight would be even better.

If you are choosing this option, you may want to toast your oat crumble first. Do this by putting oat mixture in large frying pan on medium-high heat. Stir often, careful not to burn the mix.