Plastic-Free July Eco-Challenge, Day 22: Do It Yourself

There are only 10 days left for the plastic free eco-challenge, and I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface. We have endless possibilities for cutting plastic out of our lives, because there’s an endless supply of plastic.

In our home, we discovered an incredibly healthy way to get rid of plastic. Stop buying foods packaged in plastic, and make them ourselves. The benefits have been triple fold. We tend to eat WAY healthier, because WE get to decide what ingredients are in our food. This also tends to lend to the food tasting better. WE choose the ingredients we prefer, over what some corporation decides to put in the food. The plastic waste is heavily reduced, or completely eliminated. And we save money in the long run by making it ourselves.

Do-it-yourself Does it Better

One of Chris’ favorite snacks in hummus. However, because kidney disease is a part of our family now, we have to watch sodium levels in food. This is non-negotiable. A very bright line for us. So, regardless of how much he likes hummus, most of the store-bought packages are off the table. Which is fine, to be honest, because those packages always come with way more plastic than we know what to do with.

But I remember creating a few hummus-like recipes when I was first getting started with ZooFit. One was a black bean dip, another a lima bean dip. And I recalled hummus is made with chickpeas. Could I just formulate a recipe and make the hummus myself with chickpeas?

The answer was, yes, of course I could. You can check out the recipe on the July 10th post this month. It’s easy enough that even my husband can make it himself (sorry, honey, you know I kid).

Hummus is just one item we started making ourselves to avoid plastic and unwanted ingredients. Long ago, I started making my own protein bars. I really started doing it to avoid palm oil in the popular workout snack, but it’s evolved since then.

A Better Bar

My protein bars are really popular among my friends. I had one friend who requested I make protein bars for nearly every function I attended, and I always obliged.

The individual ingredients for making your own protein bars are not cheap. That much I will admit. But, the ingredients make several batches, and each batch of protein bars makes 9-12 bars (depending on how much you eat). Most protein bars cost around $3-4. So each batch is worth at least $35.

But again, it’s more than saving money. You may break even with your own protein bars comparatively to store-bought packets. With your own protein bars, you aren’t impacting the environment with palm oil, or with non-recyclable plastic. And that’s a benefit I can’t ignore. Plus, when you make your own, you get to choose what ingredients to use. No added sugar, no ingredients you can’t pronounce. Just whole foods.

These are also fairly easy to make, although they may take a little while the first time you try them.

——🍂 PROTEIN BAR

10 servings ◈ 350 calories ◈ Carbs: 21.4g ◈ Fat: 21.2g ◈ Protein: 18.6g

  • 2 servings chocolate protein powder- can use vegan or paleo style proteins if desired, no sugar added
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil, soft but not melted or liquid
  • 3 Tbsp almond butter, or other nut butter (cashew and almond butters work the
    best)
  • 15 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1⁄2 cup almond or coconut milk, divided
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1⁄2 cup dried cranberries or other dried fruit (besides dates, because that’s just overkill)
  • 3-4 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 Tbsp walnuts, chopped (or other desired topping)
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine protein powder, the coconut oil, and the nut butter. Mix with a fork until a crumbly dough is formed and all ingredients are blended.
  2.  Line a 9×9 baking pan with parchment paper. Transfer the protein base into the pan, and press to spread it to all sides and firmly in place. Let set in fridge for at least one hour before adding filling to the base.
  3. Place dates, chia seeds, and 1⁄4 cup milk in a small saucepan. Heat for about 5 minutes, or until dates are softened (of course, if you aren’t old fashioned like me, use your microwave. I guess that’s what they are for).
  4. Transfer contents of saucepan into a food processor and blend until completely smooth. Spoon and spread the nougat mixture on top of protein base.
  5. Sprinkle dried fruit over filling.
  6. Rinse the same saucepan as the date nougat filling, and then combine cocoa powder and remainder of milk over medium heat to make a smooth syrup. Pour and brush the chocolate syrup over the date nougat.
  7. Sprinkle nuts on top of chocolate. Place in refrigerator for 4 hours before serving.

See what you think. And remember, little steps. Eliminating one item at a time makes a huge difference.

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