Thursday, August 25, 2011

Primal Energy Bars

Primal Energy Bars: Blueberry Brownie.

This recipe is from Mark's Daily Apple.  It is one of my favorite Paleo/Primal snack recipes.  I made this recipe a bunch of times with different modifications each time.  The original recipe is below with my comments inline.
  • 1/2 cup Slivered Almonds
  • 1/2 cup Pecans
  • 1/4 cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 1/4 cup Almond Butter
    • For more of a nut variety, I like to use macadamia nut butter, walnut butter works well too
    • Creamy over crunchy.  If you used one with added salt, skip the 1/2 Tsp of sea salt
    1. 1/4 cup Coconut Oil
      • If you plan on skipping the sprinkled coconut flakes on the top (not enough oil will make the flakes fall off), I would drop this down to 1/5 or 1/6 cup.
    2. 1/4 cup Almond Meal
      • I also tried coconut flour.  I prefer meal, or even better blanched almond flour.
    3. 1.5 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
    4. 1/2 tsp Raw Honey
      • Skip.  The mixture will be sweet enough with the fruit and sticky enough from the eggs 
    5. 1/2 cup Unsweetened Whey Protein Powder or 60g
      • I found that it stuck and tasted way better when I used some Progenex.  Vanilla flavor is my favorite, or Chocolate will make it taste like a Paleo brownie.  When I'm feeling cheap, I use (1 for More Muscle or 1.5 for Recovery) servings of Progenex, and then I'll make up the remaining grams with unsweetened whey protein powder.  If you only use 1-2 servings of Progenex, your bars will be thin (like a bar), and sweeter.  This is the tastiest: If you got extra Progenex to spare, you can just use all Progenex (2 servings for More Muscle, 3 servings for Recovery).
    6. 1 Egg
      • Use 2, did not hold well together with just 1
    7. 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
      • Skip if your nut butter already has salt, else sprinkle
    8. 1/2 cup Dried Cranberries or Blueberries
      • Any unsweetened dried fruit really.  I found some at Trader Joe's (freezer dried) for 1/2-1/3 the cost of that at Whole Foods (Just Tomatoes).  They have: blueberries, strawberries, mango, banana, etc.  Also 1/4 cup is more than enough if you're not big with fruit.
      • Dried fruit over real fruit since they will last longer and hold together better
      • Banana - If you like your bars extra moist and soft inside (kind of like a muffin), add a small super ripe banana.  You can speed the ripening process by putting the banana in a paper bag in a warm area.   Using a banana as "glue," is not the idea.
      1. 1/4 cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut to sprinkle on top

      Some of my favorite combinations, or flavors, are: 

      1. On a cookie sheet, toast nuts and shredded coconut until golden brown.  In order for them to cook evenly, you need to shake up the tray at least once during cooking... trust us!
        • I put the nuts in while the oven pre-heats to 325 and shook it up at least 3 times
        2. Toasted nuts.
      2. Once toasted, pour mixture into a food processor and pulse until nuts are chopped and the mixture becomes coarsely ground (sort of the consistency of bread crumbs).
        3. Chopped nuts.
      3. In a mixing bowl, melt coconut oil and almond butter (about 30 seconds).  Remove from microwave and stir until smooth.
        • I like to do this, and steps 4 and 5, while the nuts are toasting
      4. Add vanilla extract, sea salt, and honey.  Mix thoroughly.
        • If you want to add the banana, add it here and mash it up very well.
      5. Fold in nut mixture, almond meal and protein powder until mixed thoroughly.
      6. Add whole egg and mix thoroughly.
      7. Fold in blueberries/cranberries.
      8. Press mixture into 8 by 8 loaf pan.
        1. Use an 8x8 loaf pan.
        2. The mixture should be like a giant non-stick ball, meaning that when you pour the mixture into the pan, it should just fall out easily (no need for scraping).  If the mixture is not at this consistency, the bars will have a hard time sticking together.  So if you did not add that extra egg, add it.  Else, if you already added the egg, add a little more coconut oil.

        4. Mango Banana flavored bars ready for the oven!
      9. Cook in a pre-heated oven at 325 degrees for 10 minutes.
      10. Remove from oven, sprinkle a 1/4 cup of shredded coconut on top and place under broiler until top begins to brown.  
        • About 1min.  Keep checking up on it so it doesn't burn.
        • It might come out with the oil bubbling on top.  If you plan to sprinkle coconut flakes on top, this oil will keep them in tact.
      11. Let cool for 10-15 minutes.  Cut into 12 pieces/bars.  
        • I let it cool for about 10 minutes and then placed it in the freezer for another 10-15 minutes to really stop the cooking and solidify the bars.  It also makes it easier to cut.
        • I also cut it into 16 pieces.
      12. Enjoy or stack on wax paper/parchment and store in an airtight container.
        • OXO airtight containers for sure here, or if you don't have them, put them in a Ziploc bag and store them in the refrigerator.

      Note: You can also add dark chocolate chips instead of the cranberries/blueberries (available at Whole Foods or health food store). If you add the chips while the mixing bowl is warm (from the coconut oil/almond butter mixture), they will melt into the mixture and you will have yourself a chocolate primal bar. Alternatively, you can just let the mix cool, then add the chips, then refrigerate the pan to get chocolate chip primal bars. The bars stick together pretty well without being cooked.

      Nutritional Information: Nutrition for 1/12 of the batch. Nutritional breakdown courtesy of

      Calories: 184
      Fat: 15.4 grams
      Carbohydrates: 6.4g
      Protein: 7.5g
      And, for those of you who feared they would eat the whole pan… the total nutritional breakdown for the whole darn lot!
      Calories: 2,206
      Fat: 184.3 grams
      Carbohydrates: 77.2 grams
      Protein: 90.1 grams
      That’s 1659 calories from fat, 309 calories from carbs and 360 calories from protein. Or 72% fat, 14% carbs and 16% protein. A pretty decent Primal balance.

      Related Recipes: Coconut Energy Bars