Aunt Dawn's Protein Bars

My husband razzes me when I refer to my high school BFF & E (you know, BEST FRIEND FOREVER AND EVER!) as "Aunt Dawn," for not only is she not my aunt, she's not our kids' aunt either. But calling her by first name is just not, well, lovey enough. So "Aunt Dawn" she was crowned and that's what the boys call her.

One of our shared loves is baking. Neither of us goes a week without whipping up something from scratch. "I've got such a taste for my sour cream coffee cake," she'll say. "Glad my cousins are coming over so I have an excuse to make it." Her son's friend once saw her baking cookies and asked "Is this one of those houses that has the things to make the things?" Yes, she told him, I own ingredients to make cookies, several different kinds of them, from the beginning. Dawn and I joked the only delicacies this boy finds at home are Chips Ahoy. Poor child.

These protein bars save Dawn from missing breakfast when she's running out the door to work early in the a.m. and are much better than packaged breakfast or protein bars or even a bag of cereal. Nothing beats a homemade creation. Especially when made with all of the "things to make the things."


These are pretty difficult to mess up. You can play with the type of ingredients a lot, based on your own taste, and they will turn out well.

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl mix together:
  • 1 cup protein powder (she uses soy, I use whey)
  • 1/2 cup flour, any kind (I use gluten-free flour blend*)
  • 2 cups rolled oats*
  • 1/2 cup oat bran
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Mix in:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

Mix in:
  • 1/2 cup (or more) of any combination of: chocolate chips, slivered almonds chopped up, dried cranberries or cherries, raisins*

In a separate bowl mix together:
  • 1 1/2 cups yogurt*, any kind
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Add wet mix to dry and mix until well blended. This will take a few minutes and at first will seem like there's not enough liquid. Be patient. There's enough. Trust me.

Now for the fun part. Spread the batter onto a parchment paper* lined 9 x 13 cookie sheet with sides (a bit smaller than a standard cookie sheet). Bake for 15-20 minutes, only until set. Start checking them at 15 minutes. When the top is dry and bars are a bit firm, take them out to cool for 5 minutes. Then pull the parchment paper (with the bars on it) off the sheet and onto a cutting board. Slice to whatever size you want. Put bars back onto a separate, larger cookie sheet (they won't fit on the first one) leaving at least 1/2 inch space between each one. Bake another 10-15 minutes. Move bars to a rack to cool.*

This recipe makes a whole bunch of bars, so store some in your freezer and grab one next time you're running out the door and your stomach is growling.

**Extra! Extra!**
  • Any gluten-free mix without rising agents (baking soda or powder) should work. I use a combo of sorghum, potato starch, almond flour and xantham gum, a recipe I found at Gluten-Free Goddess.
  • I love Bob's Red Mill Extra Thick Oats but any will do. Just don't use the steel cut slow cooking ones. You'll be quite sorry.
  • First time I made these I used chocolate chips thinking (silly me) my boys would eat them. No such luck. They saw the oats (which scream "healthy!") and ran the other way. Second time around I used cherries, cranberries and nuts. And they're mine, all mine!
  • Aunt Dawn uses vanilla yogurt but I used low-fat plain.
  • You can find parchment paper at the grocery store alongside aluminum foil, plastic wrap, etc.
  • You can decide how dry you want the bars. I baked them less than the original recipe suggests (30 minutes).