Chinese Five Spice Pumpkin Protein Bars


Pumpkin Spice Protein Bars | plantcrush.coIt’s finally fall in Texas! School and work have been in full swing, but I am happy to report that I’ve really been devoting myself to a lot of self care this semester. I’m still having issues with falling asleep at a reasonable hour–studio habits die hard, I guess (working on it).

I typically prefer to get my dose of fitness with an introspective dose of solitude. This past summer, I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried out some group exercise classes at my university’s gym. And now I’m addicted to [certain] group classes! I love these classes because:
A. Guided workouts mean I don’t have to think too much, and
B. The instructors are awesome and push me more than I would ever push myself, to be honest!

My favorite instructor is my barre/spin instructor, Courtni! She’s seriously the best. Her  classes are fun and challenging–I always leave her class feeling dead…and a little stronger than before! Her birthday was last week, so I decided to make something tasty to share with her after one of her killer sunrise spin classes.

Protein powder is one of those things I just have to chug and try not to think about it. These days, there’s no lack of vegan protein powders on the market, and they’re not bad (and they’re not all soy, either, for those concerned)! They certainly smell better than whey protein. I personally can’t stand Vega, but I’ve had better experiences with Orgain and 1UP Nutrition (the latter is what I used in this recipe). Making protein powder taste good was a challenge, but I’m happy to say I managed it, without any refined sugars! You can also make these and omit the protein powder if you really don’t like it. But my instructor and her boss were so impressed and loved everything about these bars!

The protein content will vary depending on the kind of protein powder you use, but I did the calculations, and with the 1UP vegan vanilla protein, chia, oats, and flax, these bars come out to be about 10 g of protein per bar. Full of complex fibers and nutrients, these bars are a great source of energy before/after your workout, or as a pick-me-up in between classes.

Pumpkin Spice Protein Bars
makes 10 bars

Prep time: 10 minutes
Wait time: 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes


  • 2 cups oat flour (can also sub almond flour)
  • 1/4 cup vegan vanilla protein powder*
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice**
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 5 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2-3 tablespoons almond milk, as needed for blending


  • 3 oz of your favorite vegan semisweet chocolate, for drizzling
  • toasted pecans or nuts of your choice, roughly crushed
  • crushed granola***

*I used 1UP’s brand, but you can sub any brand you like!
**Can sub pumpkin spice mix if you want!
***I used the Pure Elizabeth brand of granola, which is made with coconut sugar, to keep this recipe refined sugar free. But feel free to use whatever granola you have on hand! I’ve been working on a chai granola recipe and experimenting with date syrup and coconut sugar, so watch for that in the coming weeks. 


  1. Line a medium pan with wax paper.
  2. Blend the dry ingredients together until well incorporated. Set aside in a large bowl.
  3. Blend the dates, pumpkin, and water until smooth, gradually adding tablespoons of almond milk as needed.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix everything together until fully incorporated. It’s easiest to do this with your hands, until you have a firm, sticky dough.
  5. Press and spread the dough into the pan in an even layer, about half an inch thick. It’s ok if it doesn’t cover the whole pan.
  6. Let the dough chill in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
  7. While the dough chills, toast some pecans by spreading them on a baking sheet and baking them in a preheated 350 F oven for 4 to 5 minutes. When the pecans have cooled, roughly chop them and set aside for later.
  8. Remove the dough from the pan and cut the dough into 10 bars.
  9. Melt 3 oz of semisweet chocolate, and drizzle it over the bars. Sprinkle the bars with chopped pecans and crushed granola! Be generous, as this gives the bars more texture and make them more satisfying, in my opinion. I also like to sprinkle extra cinnamon all over, at the end.
  10. Enjoy! These will last up to a week outside the fridge, and up to two weeks if stored in the fridge. I personally like to enjoy mine chilled, so I keep them in the fridge!

Pumpkin Spice Protein Bars |

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