The days of reaching for an afternoon sweet treat, loaded with unhealthy fat and sugar are long over! In my high school days I considered a special K bar to be ‘healthy.’ I mean, only 110 calories, how could I go wrong? Oh boy was I wrong! Grabbing one of those chemically manufactured nutrient less bars only spiked my blood sugar and made me a little loopy at 3pm. Not a pretty sight when your a hormone ranging 16 year old! Now, I reach for real food. Like a salad, or fresh fruit with raw almond butter, or a green veggie juice; organic, fresh and homemade! But what about the calories? What about them? I’m eating REAL ORGANIC WHOLE FOODS, calories got nothing on me ๐Ÿ˜‰

A few weeks ago I came across these pumpkin bars in Oxygen magazine. Being the savvy nutritionist that I am, I decided to change up a few ingredients and turn these bars into a powerhouse nutrient dense afternoon goodie that will have your tummy saying thank you! Also, my sweet man was heading off to a snowboarding trip and I couldn’t resist baking up something full of goodness to fuel his long flight. He called me once he arrived and told me his friend loved my bars! I was jumping for joy when I heard that ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_3689Why are these bars a powerhouse? They contain antioxidant rich pumpkin! Pumpkin is loaded carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, all of which help to protect your eyes and prevent the formation of cataracts. Pumpkin also contains high amounts of vitamin A and C, both of which help keep your skin supple and improve immunity. You’ll notice this recipe also contains pumpkin seeds. These little green gems contains 7 grams of protein per 1 ounce serving, plus they are high in zinc which keeps your immunity strong! Let’s not forget the essential fatty acid content of these little seeds – great for inflammatory issues, cancer prevention and heart health.

So without further adieu…..

Vanilla Pumpkin Protein Bars!

Ingredients:

3 scoops New Zealand vanilla whey protein powder (I’m sure vanilla brown rice protein would work too!)
1 1/2 cups wheat free rolled oats
1/4 cup dried cherries

1/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
3 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup egg whites
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp ground vanilla bean
1-2 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp raw honey
2 packets stevia (optional – if you prefer a little added sweetness)
1 tbsp hemp seeds (for topping)

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Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400.

2. Mix all ingredients together, except hemp seeds, in a large bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.

3. Lightly oil an 8×8 inch baking dish with coconut oil or line with parchment paper.

4. Press ingredients evenly into dish.

5. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

6. Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting. Sprinkle with hemp seeds while still warm.

Enjoy!

Happy Baking!
Health & Abundance,
Samantha ๐Ÿ™‚

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