HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Savoury "Protein Bars"

I need to get a fair amount of protein intake throughout the day. I can process around, roughly, 25 grams of protein at a time, which means if I eat more than that at a sitting, I'm mostly wasting the protein over that amount. So I try to increase my protein intake throughout the day with smaller snacks. I need to get in around 106 grams of protein a day, and my husband needs to get in around 158 grams per day.

So we've been trying protein bars, but my major complaint about them is that the ones I've found, they're all sweet. I don't want sweet that often during the day. I want savoury. So the conversation went like this:

Me: I'm tired of all the sweet protein bars, so I'm thinking of looking for ones that are savoury
Him: You mean like chicken flavoured or something?
Me: or something like that
Him: Wouldn't that just be, oh, meat?

My husband is nothing if not sensible. The issue is stability and spoilage, mainly. Beef jerky is, generally, too tough for us, hard on our stomachs (we had surgery) and hard to process, so I'm looking for something softer. We were brainstorming and thinking maybe strips of meat, slightly thicker than jerky, that I smoke using my smoker. Then I can use my food saver to make packets of them, and even store some in the freezer to make them last longer.

So that's what I'm looking for. Ideas for sorta.. well, I guess preserved meats that aren't quite as dry and hard as jerky, and recipes for that. Anyone have any thoughts on that? :)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. This made me think of the freeze-dried liver treats we buy for my dog. Might sound gross but they are super light, keep forever, and are supposed to be super-nutritious. (Though watch out if you are trying to avoid cholesterol...) They crumble into pieces so I know toughness would not be an issue.

    Note: I'm not suggesting necessarily eating the actual dog treats themselves, but rather finding a way to replicate this same processing technique, on liver and other meats to see if it would work. :-)

    1 Reply
    1. re: anachemia

      Won't do for my husband, he hates liver. And I love liver, but only occasionally. As a daily thing it'd be too much. :) Good thought though! Thanks!

    2. Clif has new mojo bars which come is slightly more savory/salty flavors with salted peanuts/pretzel sticks embedded in them which may help you as you fine tune your homemade protein ideas.

      Maybe if you make homemade smoked turkey breast (or chicken/fish/beef) and slice thin like deli meat and then foodsaver those, it would last at least a few days in the fridge but i'm not sure if you wanted something that needs constant refrigeration.

      i can't help with jerky type ideas as I have no clue what is needed to properly store cooked meat but I'd imagine smoking alone wouldn't work as it would still need to be preserved like dehydrating jerky preserves it, so unless you are making some homemade charcuterie you would still need to freeze/cook everything.

      I recommend doing a little researching on weightlifting websites to see what they eat for various snacks. They need lots of protein and usually eat 6-8 times per day, so they might give you some ideas of what they eat that you can tinker with for your palate.

      1. Back in the day when SO and I were backpackers, we would buy these compressed meat bars at the camping supply stores. They were made by Armour or one of the other packers and contained an enormous amount of meat in a small 3" x 1" x 1" bar. It was more the kind of thing that tastes better outdoors, but definitely meat.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mnosyne

          I'll check out our camping supply sites and shops. :) Thanks!

        2. Are you concerned about the amount of fat you're consuming?

          If not, then try peanut butter on whole-grain, high protein bread, or even on a bagel.

          High protein, rye bread: http://www.pema.de/xist4c/web/RYE-BRE...

          3 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            Fat content does matter, it can cause uhm.. some unpleasant digestion side effects if we have a lot at a sitting. We do eat peanut butter, though, and that's a good one. :) I even have some sitting here next to me at work. I'll encourage my husband to eat a little more of that.

            I also add whey protein to my morning yogurt (have to have yogurt every day), and that helps. too. :) Good thought on the high protein bread, I'll look into that. I have a bread maker, and I was looking for more ways to use it creatively. ;D

            1. re: Morganna

              This isn't about meat, but since you mentioned that you have to have yogurt everyday: I saw this today and am sort of excited about it.


              1. re: darklyglimmer

                OH that's awesome, thanks!

                I've actually turned to nonfat Greek yogurt (which has WAY more protein in it), and I've done my own flavoring in it. I made tzatziki and my own vanilla yogurt with real vanilla and splenda. It works well. I've also added chocolate milk mix to it and thoroughly enjoyed that. I'm liking the whole "add things to plain" process. :)

          2. There is a South African jerky called biltong, which can be cured to a soft or hard stage. It's usually sliced as opposed to a stick, so it can be easier to chew. Other cured meats that might work as well including air dried beef (Weaver's is a US brand in good delis, Italian dried beef is called bresaola, Germans have bunderfleisch) prosciutto, speck or other dried ham products, salami, etc.

            Hard-boiled eggs are nice and portable.

            What about some hard cheese, like parmesean or aged gouda?

            I've seen recipes for cheese biscotti or cheese crackers. You can also simply fry up grated cheese in a nonstick skillet or bake it on a silpat, let cool completely and you have really tasty cheese wafers.

            4 Replies
            1. re: dct

              I'm looking at some recipes for biltong and it looks an awful lot like jerky. Though the sites I'm looking at emphatically state it's not jerky. Can you describe for me how it is different from jerky? :)

              1. re: Morganna

                hmm..I'm not sure why you wouldn't call it jerky-like, at least. Like jerky it's cured and then air dried. Maybe it's a nationalism thing.

                Anyway--when I lived in South Africa you could buy it a lot of places, though people made their own. The style I had most frequently was sliced about an eight of an inch thick--it was suppler than American jerky, but still shelf stable. The texture was more like really thick fruit leather. You could eat it by the piece or make a sandwich out of it with a roll and butter.

                The spicing is different than American jerky. It's not smoky, maybe a bit fruity, with warm spices like pepper and ginger.

                1. re: dct

                  Ok, thanks. I'm gonna try making thicker strips this weekend. I'll cut up some eye round ('cos it's lean) and maybe some pork tenderloin, and I'm gonna put a rub on it, then smoke it, then air dry it and see what I get. :)

                2. re: Morganna

                  biltong although simerlar to beef jerky is not cooked , it is raw air dried meet , check out this site http://www.squidoo.com/beef-biltong It is an obsession among South Africans and Zimbabweans - very tasty and very nutritious and all natural .

              2. Hi. I also do not like sweet bars like Luna or Clif, but I've discovered Snickers Marathon bars..the multi grain version. It actually has chocolate on it, but it is NOT sweet. It is soy based. They do have several versions.

                Also, if you are baking/preparing foods, you might try the powered peanut butter found here and at some grocery stores. search these boards for threads using PB2 or powdered peanut butter. Most of the fats are removed....mostly protein.

                1 Reply
                1. re: type2runner

                  Great, I'll look for that too! Lower fat is a help. :)

                2. These aren't savoury but they are fantastic.. and they aren't too sweet.

                  Cocoa Energy Bars

                  1. when i was younger my mom always used to pack me plain boca burgers, hot dogs, and sausages to snack on. they're filling snacks, easy to eat/transport if you wrap them individually with foil, and you don't need to adorn them with anything, except possibly some ketchup.

                    other high protein small snacks:

                    -hard boiled eggs
                    -canned tuna snacks
                    -nuts (peanuts, brazil nuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, etc.)
                    -yogurt cups have about 10 grams of protein apiece. Fage 2% has 17 grams.
                    -cottage cheese cups
                    -hummus dip

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: fallingup

                      I'm looking for more "shelf stable" sorts of things (but those are all good suggestions, and I'm already implementing some of them). I think the biltong is a really good possibility. Or even just home made jerky that I smoke. I'm going to smoke some baby backs Friday, maybe I"ll get some eye round and slice it thicker than I would for jerky, and smoke that too... then let it air dry. Wonder if the rub I use for the ribs would be good enough for the biltong...

                    2. Sometimes, the "old ways" are the good ways.

                      Consider making some pemmican. It is the original archetypal "power bar" that fueled explorations for centuries.

                      Once you've dried the sliced beef, the potential for making tasty SAVORY bars is endless.

                      Here's a google link that includes blender. as a quick and easy way of pulverizing the jerky.


                      1. So I gave this a try this weekend, but I haven't tasted the results yet. I'll let you know! :)

                        1. You should try some of the savoury bars from http://www.journeybar.com/. They ship within the US and Canada. Great flavour!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: HaLal

                            The only thing with these is they're 210 calories, but only 7 grams of protein. Not nearly enough protein for the amount of calories. But they do sound tasty!

                            1. re: Morganna

                              I don't think Journey Bars are necessarily high protein bars, but they are REALLY tasty. I love the Coconut Curry flavor! And the ingredients they use are really healthy.

                              1. re: runnermatt14

                                Yeah, I'm sure. Unfortunately, they're not suitable for my needs. I need a good amount of protein (upwards of 15 grams) for a reasonably low amount of calories (and especially lower in fat). I can absorb maybe up to around 25 grams of protein from a "sitting" (figure half hour to an hour meal), but that's pushing it. It IS better if I can spread it out into smaller bits over the day, but I need to be careful about drastically increasing my caloric intake in the process.

                            1. re: Rasam

                              I'm lactose intolerant and string cheese is fattier than I should be eating, too. Though it is nice for occasional treat. :)

                              1. re: enbell

                                Nope. I'll check out the costs. :) Thanks for the thought.

                              2. I see your original post is from 2008 but it looks like you're still responding. So... smoked salmon? It's not a "bar", but seems to fit your other criteria.

                                How did your past experiments go?

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Pia

                                  Man was it that long ago? Well, my quest for protein is going to be a lifelong thing, so yeah... guess I'm still looking to a certain extent. I love smoked salmon, and it's not something I'd considered. My husband dislikes fish of all kinds, but I like it. :) I think there's salmon jerky. Think I'll look for turkey jerky too.

                                  I've also recently found non fat greek yogurt is LOADED with protein. :) And I can do all sorts of mix-ins to make it tastier to me. Though it's not as non-perishable.

                                  1. re: Morganna

                                    The turkey jerky made by Snackmaster's is fantastic. I buy mine from amazon, but you can also find it sometimes at natural food stores. I love greek yogurt too and sometimes add chocolate protein powder to mine to make a chocolate pudding-like treat.

                                2. What about roasted chick peas/ garbanzo beans? I'll put the disclaimer that I haven't tried these myself yet, but they're on my list. 15 g protein per cup with 12 g fiber, 4 g fat (http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/l...). If you make them starting from dried garbanzos you can control the salt. Here's a simple recipe but you can find many others by searching for toasted chick peas, roasted chick peas, etc:

                                  I didn't find much info on storage length, but most recipes said that you store them at room temperature. I suppose you could freeze them, too, and re-toast small batches (a few days' worth at a time) in the oven?

                                  You might also check out the snack offerings at an Indian grocery store, if there's on enear you. I've seen chick pea/lentil/snacky combos there that might work for you, too.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: gimlis1mum

                                    I know this thread is old, but who cares. If you roast chickpeas long enough that all moisture is gone (i.e. they're crunchy), you can keep them at room temp for a week or so. I think it's best to do this at a low temp for a long time so they don't burn at all, and dry out completely.

                                    Also, Whole Foods sells Salmon Jerky. I hate fish, but have heard it's good. A diner near me makes salmon burgers which are a HUGE seller. I know they're not shelf-stable, but maybe something to add to your dinner rotation :)

                                    One more idea--I don't stomach fat well either and eat mostly vegan, so I have a hard time getting enough protein. The fat in nuts is even too much on my stomach for me to get in enough of them in a day. Roasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds have been a saving grace. They are easier on my stomach and a 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds (shelled) has something like 10-15 grams of protein. I'll take a small handful twice a day like they're vitamins--you can practically eat them all in a bite or two. Seeds are also easy to toss with cooking spray/olive oil and then quickly roast with seasonings to vary the taste. Kind of like making Chex Mix but with no starch and all protein. You can add any combo of flavors--very yummy! I also put them in most things I eat, from quesadillas to roasted veggies.

                                  2. I don't know if you are still reading these but I have the same issue. I just hate sweets in general. A friend of mine told me about these meat protein bars called Epic Bars. There are three flavors. Beef, turkey and buffalo mixed with cranberries. It sounds like it may still be a little sweet but I'm crossing my fingers. They are organic and come from grass fed animals (Paleo I guess) so they're healthy anyway. I haven't tried them yet but did order them and should be getting them in a couple days. I will let you know what I think.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Hayleydiane

                                      oh good, I'd love to hear what you discover. Cranberries don't HAVE to be sweet. :) I'll look around for them. Thanks! :D