Granola Bar Experiment

I was wanting some protein bars for pre/post workout snacks. I watch my macros and have a very hard time getting enough protein in my diet, I thought protein bars might help. The only ones I can find locally are expensive, and not healthy. The ingredient listing reads more like a Snickers bar. If I was going to eat those – I would rather eat the Snickers!  So I looked online for recipes. Easy enough… right?  Well, finding the recipes was easy, but the protein powder?  Not so much.  The only place I found it here was at GNC and the $50 can of whey protein is over $100 here!  So, how to make a protein bar without protein powder was my new task. 

Also, most recipes call for all kinds of exotic ingredients that are unavailable here in the Philippines. You know like flax, chia, maple syrup… shopping is tough here ha ha.

I began searching for other high protein sources. Peanut butter is pretty high in protein but also high in carbs and fat. I am looking more for straight protein. The best suggestion I found was gelatin. That seemed simple enough but I quickly found a problem. Almost everywhere I looked sells the local gelatin made from carrageenan. Which we all know is made from red seaweed.  I have no problems with carrageenan but seaweed has no protein. Any hoof & bone based gelatin seems to be imported, meaning hard to find.  The hoof & bone gelatin apparently is a European thing, in Asia they used seaweed since 600 BC.

The best substitutes I found were egg whites and tofu. Both are fairly high in protein and good for baking. Take a look at the macros:

1 1/2 cup tofu 264 cal/16 fat/6 carb (1 sugar)/31 protein

2 egg whites 34 cal/0 fat/0 carb (0 sugar)/8 protein

I tried a few recipes with tofu and eggs with mixed results. Because of the raw eggs I had to bake them. They tended to be a little dry, and I never got the flavor quite right. The tofu here has a very strong flavor. It worked ok, but I kept looking.

Finally I found a box of unflavored gelatin at a local grocer (only one box).  One teaspoon of gelatin has 2.9 gr of protein, and negligible amounts of fat, carbs, sugar, & salt.

The granola I found is Simply Cereal brand, from South Africa. It contains  45% oats, 19% fruit (raisins, banana chips, pineapple, and papaya), 3% nuts (cashews and almonds), with crisped rice and corn flakes. 100 gram (2 cups) has 420 cal/15 fat/57 carb (19 sugar)/9 protein. It has a nice mix of nuts and fruit. I could make my own granola but this is available and quite good.  It works fine with the tofu/eggs and with the gelatin.

The first batch of bars with gelatin I ended up baking, out of habit.  It got a bit weird, kind of hard and chewy. I looked over the ingredients and decided since nothing in it was raw (I took out the tofu and eggs) I could just heat the gelatin in water, mix it all and refrigerate it. I use way more gelatin than you would to make jello because I am just trying to get a good protein source.  The recipe is in a constant state of flux as I try new ingredients, textures, and flavors.  Here is the latest recipe I made.  Before you try and make them, then complain that they are weirdly rubbery… yes, I know they are. They have too much gelatin in them.  If I had Quest bars here I would just eat them. I am making do with what I have available.  This batch is kind of rubbery, and still not enough cocoa.  But 11 gr of protein per bar! (almost 1 tablespoon of gelatin powder per bar ha ha)

I am not actually recommending these. I am just having fun showing you what I am doing, and why I am doing it.

But we are getting there, and having fun along the way.  Isn’t that what it is all about?

img_20170224_141546     granola-bar-with-gelatin

Granola Bar – High Protein w/Gelatin



No bake protein bars. Uses gelatin since protein powder is prohibitively expensive here.

Minutes to Prepare: 10

Minutes to Cook: 10

Number of Servings: 12



2 cups Granola
1 cup Quaker Oats
1 cup Powdered Milk
.25 cup Cocoa
4 tsp Vanilla Extract
4 tsp Cinnamon, ground
3 cup Water

.75 cup Unflavored Gelatin



In saucepan heat water, cocoa, powdered milk, cinnamon, and gelatin until everything is dissolved. Remove from heat and mix all ingredients. Refrigerate to set gelatin. You can form shapes in many ways: put in 12 cupcake cups, put in rectangle pan and slice after it cools (my preference), cool part way and roll into balls…


Make sure and use real gelatin, not carrageenan (seaweed has no protein).

Before you try and make them, then complain that they are weirdly frubbery… yes, I know they are. They have too much gelatin in them. 


Nutritional Info

  • Servings Per Recipe: 12
  • Calories: 112.2
  • Total Fat: 2.0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
  • Sodium: 16.1 mg
  • Total Carbs: 8.9 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 2.1 g
  • Protein: 11.3 g