Bursting with bright, lemon flavor and packed with protein, these copy-cat lemon RX bars require just FIVE ingredients to make…and don’t even require you to turn on your oven! You are literally just minutes away from your very own homemade protein bars…and as an added bonus, they are much cheaper than buying store-bought!
Time for another version of the ever-so-popular RX bars! When RX Bar came out with a fun new spring flavor, I simply had to try recreating it at home! I love this homemade chocolate sea salt version as well as this peach version. However, it’s been a hot minute since we’ve had a new flavor variety of homemade protein bars!
I mentioned it here, but as much as I enjoy chocolate, I’ve honestly really been enjoying seasonal/spring/Easter classic flavors such as carrot cake and lemon. Probably since I rarely ate these dessert flavors growing up…and I talked about almost a year ago with these carrot cake breakfast cookies.
I love making these on the weekend to have on hand during the busy work weeks. They make great grab and go breakfasts with some yogurt or fruit or a protein shake. They are also great snacks, pre-workout snack, post-workout snack, etc. These are also delicious as a topper for yogurt or smoothie bowls. I love the bright, citrusy lemon flavor with fresh berries too.
Ingredients and Substitution Ideas
As mentioned, these protein bars only require FIVE ingredients: Dates, Cashews, Macadamia Nuts, Lemon Zest, and Egg White or Collagen Protein powder! AND…to make these even simpler: you can absolutely just use all of one type of nut If that’s what you prefer and have on hand at home. And, while these won’t really be protein bars if you omit the protein powder, you absolutely can leave this out if you’d prefer. It won’t affect the taste at all; it just won’t have as much protein!
A bit more in depth about the ingredients…
LOVE how creamy and versatile cashews can be in recipes. As mentioned, you can absolutely use all cashews in this recipe if that is easier than using half cashews and half macadamia nuts! As a random site note…I had someone mention to me recently how they “loved all the ‘unhealthy’ nuts like cashews.” Um. What?! There really aren’t any “unhealthy” types of nuts! They are all filled with heart-healthy fats. Nuts are high in unsaturated fats, which have been linked to reduce one’s risk of heart disease. There’s no need to be fearful of the fat content of nuts! Research shows that it’s the TYPE of fat that matters…low-fat craze of the 90s be gone!
As another side, I posted on my Instagram stories recently how I was enjoying flavored Blue Almond almonds (not sponsored, just love!). I mentioned WHY would anyone want to eat plain (and heaven forbid!) raw almonds when there are so many delicious flavored options out there with practically negligible nutritional differences?! ANYWAYS. Rant over. Summary? Eat more nuts. 😉
Now, I’ll be honest and say this isn’t a type of nut that I buy regularly. It was inspired by my mom bringing me back some macadamia nuts from her trip to Hawaii…and I just had to think of the perfect recipe to use them in! Normally when I think of macadamia nuts in recipes, I automatically think first of white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. And to be honest…I just really can’t get behind white chocolate. Dark chocolate for me all the way. SO…since macadamia nuts remind of tropical recipes, I thought they would be a delicious addition with the lemon…and I daresay I was right! However, I’ve also tried this recipe using 100% cashews…and it worked great. So no worries if you don’t have macadamia nuts.
I 100%, hands-down, always recommend using Medjool dates. Medjool dates are much larger, softer, and sweeter than other varieties of dates (such as Deglet-Noor). Whenever I use dates in recipes (such as in this no bake cookie dough and these chocolate protein bars), I always use Medjool dates. Medjool dates are almost always found in the fresh produce section, NOT in the dried fruit section with the raisins and other date varieties. Dates are packed with potassium and are a great way to naturally sweeten these protein bars…with fruit! The dates are the key ingredient to bind all of the ingredients together…they are perfectly soft, sticky, and sweet!
Super simple, just the zest of 1 lemon! This is what provides the natural, bright lemon flavor. I tried adding freshly squeezed lemon juice to one of the test batches….let’s just say it wasn’t pretty (laughing emoji). The bars were very mushy and soft and just didn’t set up well AT ALL. So stick with the lemon zest…it still provides a great lemon flavor!
RX bars use egg white protein powder, which is what I used in the copycat peach and chocolate versions. It was easy to find on Amazon! However, I was out of egg white protein powder when I wanted to test this recipe…so I had the idea to use (unflavored) collagen protein powder…and I’m happy to report it worked well! I have not tried using plant-based or whey protein powders…while I love using these often in baking and smoothies, I’m not sure it would allow for the best texture or taste. The collagen blends or “dissolves” well, and since it’s unflavored it allows the lemon flavor to shine through!
- ½ cup cashews
- ½ cup macademia nuts OR additional ½ cup cashews
- 1 cup dates (180 grams)-about 11 dates, pitted
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt, to taste
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 5 scoops (about ½ cup + 2 tbsp) collagen OR egg white protein powder, optional
- Add nuts, dates, lemon zest, and salt to a high speed blender or a food processor. Mix until combined and a dough forms.
- Then add optional collagen or egg white protein powder, and process again until combined.
- Either press dough into a small pan to make bars, or roll into balls.
- Store in refrigerator for up to a couple freeze, or store in freezer up to a couple months! They freeze well.