Finals week is here! Unfortunately, lack of sleep and poor nutrition are common themes during exams, and these habits significantly weaken brain function. For optimal concentration and energy, ditch the sugars and caffeine before early morning or late night study sessions. Instead, grab water and a high-protein snack with good fats and carbohydrates. Refreshing your brain will boost concentration, earning you extra shut-eye. Make a big batch of these 6-ingredient chocolate peanut-butter protein bars this weekend and enjoy them as breakfast and study snacks throughout the week.
Want to know what you’re eating? Here are four of the healthiest ingredients in the recipe:
Peanut Butter: This popular nut butter seems indulgent, but it’s actually packed with nutrients and good fats. They contain monounsaturated fats, which according to the American Heart Association, help reduce bad cholesterol and the risk of heart disease and stroke. Vitamin E, found naturally in monounsaturated fats, plays a vital role in immune function. Avoid buying reduced fat peanut butter because it contains the same number of calories and it substitutes the healthy fat for more sugar.
Raw Honey: Honey has been used as a natural health remedy for thousands of years because of its antimicrobial effects. It can aid in digestion, reduce cold symptoms, strengthen the immune system and much more! Local honey also helps eliminate seasonal allergies. However, many companies heat and process their honey, destroying the anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Enjoy the benefits of honey by buying all-natural, local brands. The USF Botanical Garden’s garden shop offers many varieties year round.
Figs: This interesting variety of fruit contains the highest amount of calcium of any fruit and they are an ideal source of dietary fiber, which aids in digestion and appetite satisfaction.
Oats: This common breakfast grain contains the highest protein amounts for any grain. It is also high in fiber and very low in calories and fat. Unfortunately, oats are often contaminated with other gluten products, so common oats are not recommended for a gluten-free diet. However, non-contaminated oats do not contain gluten and are safe to eat.
Six-Ingredient Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars
- 16 oz. jar natural peanut butter
- 1 ¼ cups raw honey
- 2 ¼ cups chocolate protein powder
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 cups dry uncooked old fashioned oats
- Organic dried fruit (I used figs for this batch, but you could use any kind of dried fruit you enjoy)
- In a microwave safe bowl, combine peanut butter and honey.
- Heat in microwave for 90 seconds, until it easily stirs.
- Add protein powder, oatmeal, dried fruit and cocoa powder.
- Mix thoroughly. The mixture will be thick.
- Press into a 9 x 13 inch pan.
- Refrigerate for one hour, or until hardened enough to cut into bars.
- Cut into 2 x 2 inch squares or smaller, and bag each bar for convenience.
Protein bars not your thing? Check out more portable, high-protein snacks here.