Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
30 Sep

Make Your Own Primal Energy Bars in 10 Easy Steps

2278177389 a6dfc29706You know the drill. You slept late, your son misplaced his lunchbox, the cat threw up in the flowers. You’re already 10 minutes late for work and there’s nary a minute to scarf down a breakfast, let alone one that a caveman would approve of!

Enter the protein bar – it’s individually packaged, it’s relatively affordable, and you can easily eat it in the car while you’re doing your hair in the rear view mirror and practicing your presentation for later this afternoon – in essence, it’s the ultimate grab-and-go food.

However, there is a downside. In many cases, these protein bars contain ingredients and chemicals that very few people – bar the odd organic chemist or real nutrition expert – can pronounce and still fewer would actually want to ingest.

The solution? It’s time to put your chef hat on, because the only way you’re going to find an energy bar that is Primal and palatable is if you do a little D.I.Y… (and trust us, it’s really not that hard!).

Ingredients:

1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup almond or sesame seed meal
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup coconut oil (check your local health food store)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp of raw honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries or blueberries

Method:

  1. On a cookie sheet, toast nuts and shredded coconut until golden brown (you may need to shake the tray once or twice to make sure they cook evenly).
  2. Once toasted, pour mixture into a food processor and pulse until nuts are chopped and the mixture becomes coarsely ground.
  3. In a mixing bowl, melt coconut oil and almond butter (about 20 seconds). Remove from microwave and stir until smooth.
  4. Add vanilla extract, honey and sea salt. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Fold in nut mixture and almond (or sesame seed) meal until mixed thoroughly.
  6. Fold in blueberries/cranberries.
  7. Press mixture into an 8 by 4 loaf pan.
  8. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until firm.
  9. Cut “loaf” width wise. Should make 6 good-sized bars.
  10. Enjoy! (or, if you don’t plan to eat immediately, you can store the bars in the refrigerator, covered loosely with a paper towel and plastic wrap.
manray3 Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

How to Make Your Own Jerky

DIY – Butter, Yogurt, Kefir, Oh My!

Homemade Condiment Creations

Choose Your Own Salad Adventure

The Easiest Guide to Safe Household Cleaners You Can Make Yourself

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I keep just looking at this and feeling that it should be bad… haven’t found why yet (even though the honey does make me slightly aprehensive). I am definitely going to have to try this one.

    Son of Grok wrote on September 30th, 2008
  2. There seems to be a whole lotta protein in this but not much it terms of carbs. Was this intentional? Can you give a nutritional breakdown (qua nutrition label) for your concoction?

    mh1 wrote on September 30th, 2008
  3. How long do you think these will keep un-refridgerated? I would like to bring one to work with me to complement my homeade primal jerky that I have been making. It would be in a plastic bag for about 8 hours unrefridgerated. Think it would hold up?

    Son of Grok wrote on September 30th, 2008
  4. mh1-

    They aren’t the best protein source (check out the DIY Jerky recipe link at the bottom of the post), but they are a good option for an on-the-go meal full of healthy fats that will satiate your appetite. Here is the breakdown:

    Total Batch:

    Calories: 2288
    Fat: 203g
    Carbs: 110g
    Protein: 40g

    So to hit your serving size just cut into the appropriate size (6ths, 8ths, 12ths etc)

    Here is the per bar breakdown if you cut the batch into 6ths:

    Calories: 381
    Fat: 34g
    Carbs: 18.3 g
    Protein: 6.6 g

    The carb count isn’t ultra-low. But it is at a reasonable level and could easily fit into the daily range of 100-150g of carbs.

    Yes, the fairly low carb content was intentional. It is all about the fat, baby!

    Son of Grok-

    It should hold up just fine over those 8 hours.

    Thanks for the great comments and questions. They are always welcome!

    Aaron wrote on September 30th, 2008
  5. When does the sesame meal get added? Is it toasted? Or do you add it later? Also, could you substitute almond meal?

    Sally wrote on September 30th, 2008
    • Step 5

      Nancy in Alberta wrote on October 3rd, 2013
  6. I think these sound fantastic. I’m going to try a batch. If the kidlets eat them, I’ll be thrilled! Thanks guys!

    charlotte wrote on September 30th, 2008
  7. Oh man these sound great. Thanks for the recipe!

    Heather wrote on September 30th, 2008
  8. “you can store the bars in the refrigerator, covered loosely with a paper towel and plastic wrap”

    Don’t the paper towels soak up any of the fat?

    They do sound yummy, I’ve been looking for something to add to my morning shake that is high in fat. I need something solid as I take my vits, meds with breakfast shake!

    Thanks

    Cindy moore wrote on September 30th, 2008
  9. Almond meal is a great substitute for sesame meal, Sally.

    If you are worried about losing any of that precious fat store the bars on a covered plate.

    Great questions!

    Aaron wrote on September 30th, 2008
  10. Aaron, could you answer Sally’s question about when to add the almond/sesame meal? I was wondering the same thing.

    Also any clue as to the fiber content to reduce the carb load?

    They sound good. Might have to try ‘em.

    Joe Matasic wrote on September 30th, 2008
  11. If you also included some dried apricots, which are pretty sweet, there might be no need for the honey. Or is the honey required to help with binding the mixture….?

    Methuselah - Pay Now Live Later wrote on September 30th, 2008
  12. Sally/Joe,

    Yes, apologies. #5 is meant to include the nut/seed meal addition. It’s been added for clarification.

    Great point, Methusaleh. Apricots are a great addition. In fact they make binding the bar together that much easier. The honey adds a bit of sweetness and helps binding. Without apricots, it should be noted that the recipe may need some tweaking to get the bars to bind well, and that could include adding a touch more honey.

    Aaron wrote on September 30th, 2008
  13. My batch is chillin’ in the freezer as I type (my son is impatiently waiting for some while he does his homework).

    I used dried Montmorency Cherries (unsweetened tart cherries) because that’s the only dried fruit I had. I first gave them a few pulses in the food processor to make smaller bits. Everything else I had in the pantry.

    This is much faster than the baked nut bars I had been making (also grain-free). Probably tastier, too.

    Another good ingredient for snacks like this is Coconut Spread (the only one I know about is from Wilderness Family Naturals, either from their website or some natural food stores).

    Anna wrote on September 30th, 2008
  14. What is almond/sesame meal? Is it just finely ground almonds/sesame seeds?

    I have been searching for ages for a primal recipe for something to replace the grocery store type granola bar. My children love granola bars, but I refuse to buy them anymore, and they know it! I will certainly give this a try. If it passes the kid test then it is truly a winner!

    My only problem with the recipe is the microwave part. PLEASE do not microwave your nourishment! It turns good food into processed and altered junk.

    new_me wrote on September 30th, 2008
  15. Very cool post and idea. If you can get hold of the nut meals this is super easy to make and an Ideal snack. I suppose for those of you who want some extra protein it would be possible to add some Unflavored Whey (not sure about this though….I would also suggest adding some ground cinnamon and possibly a TBSP or two of canned pumpkin.

    Chris - Zen to Fitness wrote on October 1st, 2008
  16. wow these look delicious! Though I think there would be a danger of eating the entire batch in one sitting…. hmm 2200 calories…

    these would be great for when ski/snowboard season starts.. a perfect high energy snack.

    Laura K wrote on October 1st, 2008
  17. These look awesome! Can’t wait to try them.
    Nut meal is just finely ground nuts, in this case almonds. Just stick ‘em in the food processor and ground till “flour” consistency. If you don’t feel like making your own, Bob’s Red Mill sells Almond Meal and you can order it online.
    Another great binder (that would add sweetness) is pureed dates…

    Spindelicious wrote on October 1st, 2008
  18. Great call on the dates suggestion, Spindelicious.

    Aaron wrote on October 1st, 2008
  19. How about pureed prunes?

    These were a hit with the son and hubby, though my batch turned out a bit crumbly (I might not have processed the nuts fine enough). One went into his school lunch box this morning. Of course, my son asked for chocolate chips in his next time. I think I’ll add raw unsweetened cocoa nib bits to the next batch, though.

    For my own purposes (impaired glucose tolerance) they are still too high in sugar (most of the sugars in this come from the fruit), but the fruit functions as a binder, so I’ll do some experimenting with other binder possibilities. Perhaps some egg white and baking slightly will work. I’ll let y’all know.

    By the way, I wouldn’t fear the calories in this, especially if it is a meal replacement (rather than on top of a huge meal). The fat is so satisfying that even if one overindulges, the resulting satiety is likely to result in delayed or reduced hunger for the next meal, as long as the sugar content isn’t too high (prompting a big insulin/hunger response and fluctuating BG).

    Anna wrote on October 1st, 2008
  20. Made another batch last night. This time I actually measured instead of eyeballing the amounts – more stuff to wash, though. I chopped the nuts/coconut finer in the food processor than I did for the first batch.

    I was out of all dried fruit except some Trader Joe’s date rolls (date paste logs rolled in coconut shreds with an almond pressed on top – 30g of CHO each!) I call them “sugar bombs”, natural sugars notwithstanding (dried dates are very high in sugar). I put two of those in the food processor *with the nuts* instead of dried cranberries or blueberries.

    Also this time I pressed the mixture into a 6×6″ square shallow covered glass storage container, making them thinner. I pre-cut into 8 pcs before chilling for easier cutting later, so they are also a bit smaller. They are quite rich and filling, so this morning I cut them again in half to make 16 squares.

    This batch also tested well with my son at breakfast and he requested one for his lunch box.

    Anna wrote on October 2nd, 2008
  21. Thanks for the rundown, Anna. I’m sure I’m not the only one who appreciates it when you share your experiences, it’s always helpful!

    Heather wrote on October 2nd, 2008
  22. I made these with cashew butter, and flax meal instead of almond meal. Delicious!

    Matt wrote on October 2nd, 2008
  23. I replaced the almond/sesame seed meal in these while increasing the protein content of the bars using these three different methods, all of them good as gold: either substitute “meal” for 1) a good quality organic whey protein (used Paleomeal), 2) hemp protein powder or 3) a pea/rice protein mixture. I even decreased the carb content further by using fresh or frozen wild blueberries, picked right from my backyard :-) Yummy!!! Thanks for the wonderful recipe!!!

    Eric wrote on October 4th, 2008
  24. One of characteristics about this “uncooked” bar is that it needs to stay relatively cool to keep its form.

    For the last batch I made, I added an egg and mixed it well (I also used two date rolls instead of the dried berries), then baked it for 20 minutes in moderate oven at 325°F. That was my son’s favorite batch so far, and while still a bit crumbly and can’t take being tossed around, keeping it cool isn’t an issue.

    Oh, and he likes an handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips thrown in, too :-). I also added some raw cracked cocoa nibs (unsweetened) for crunch.

    I’ll continue to experiment, because I really like this easy, slow energy snack idea.

    The other tip I have is to have a toothbrush or toothpick handy (or don’t smile too widely right after eating). Those nut bits really like to stick around while. :-)

    Anna wrote on October 7th, 2008
  25. Thanks for the update, Anna! Very helpful. Let us know if you come up with any new and exciting creations!

    Aaron wrote on October 7th, 2008
  26. I replaced the almond/sesame meal with whey protein powder in my batch and have been storing the bars in the freezer. They cohere very well. I also found that wrapping them in parchment paper helps the bars hold their shape in my bag on the way to work.

    I love how mailable this recipe is– very easy to alter to a person’s taste. I’m going to be sending this recipe to friends.

    cenz wrote on October 7th, 2008
  27. I made these and they were delicious! I didn’t use any dried fruit but added a few drops of liquid stevia for sweetness. I also used agave nectar instead of honey and instead of one teaspoon vanilla extract, I used half vanilla and half almond. They’re sinfully delicious.

    I also avoid microwaves, so I just combined the oil and almond butter on the stove. No problem.

    Emily wrote on November 10th, 2008
  28. I’ve been making bars similar to these for years. The big difference is that I add several scoops of unsweetened whey protein powder to significantly up the protein content. I don’t add any honey to my bars, either — don’t need the fructose. Sometimes I’ll throw in a scoop of raw cocoa powder, which is a super healthy addition, and gives them a slight chocolate flavor.

    Scott Miller wrote on November 18th, 2008
  29. Scott Miller,

    I’m REALLY interested in trying your modifications to my bars, but could you be more specific when you refer to “scoops”?
    How big is a “scoop” as it relates to the portions of the above recipe? 1/4 cup, 1/2 cup, etc.

    Thanks for the GREAT info!

    Dan Ware wrote on November 18th, 2008
  30. Hi Dan, a scoop is a non-standard size, I know, but really there’s no need to be super accurate. I think my scoop is 25 grams, and I’ll use 3-4 scoops, which adds about 100 grams of protein to the mix. If you divide that into 8 bars, you have 12.5 grams more protein per bar. They key point is that more protein is better, and Mark’s bars seem way too low on the protein, versus what I want. Mark’s bars come off more as energy bars, IMO, and I prefer a bar that’s more protein and fat focused, with carbs in third place.

    BTW, it’s really easy to be creative when making these kinds of bars, and I never make them the same way twice. I’ll use different combinations of nut butters (always the full-fat versions), and the really high-in-protein soy nut butters. I’ll also add chopped walnuts, or chopped pecans, or sesame seeds, and these add texture and crunch to the bars, making them a lot more enjoyable to eat, IMO.

    Scott Miller wrote on November 18th, 2008
  31. Tried and liked it!

    Miha Otrob wrote on March 13th, 2009
  32. it would be kinda cool if you could make a video on youtube showing exactly how you do it… because i suck at following written recipes on a language other than my own :)

    isaac e wrote on March 23rd, 2009
  33. After years of making homemade granola bars I saw this one. It is the best one yet. Especially like the ‘no bake’ aspect. Next time I will double the recipe.

    Oleg wrote on April 11th, 2009
  34. I have made this recipe twice now. The 2nd time I was smarter and used my cuisinart to do the whole process. I just put all of the ingredients into the cuisinart and pulsed until the mixture held togather. I then take the mixture out and dump into a bowl and shape the mixture into small bite size balls. I am now supplying my massage therapists with these delightful morsels and they love them. I made a few changes to the recipe. I added 1/3 cup of hemp herts for protein, 1/3 cup milk poweder, increased almond butter to 1/2 cup of cashew/almond butter, eliminated the coconut oil, added a little more honey, added 1/2cup grd flax seed.

    Shirley wrote on April 26th, 2009
  35. sorry, should read hemp hearts.

    Shirley wrote on April 26th, 2009
  36. While I know dessert is sort of frowned upon by the primal diet, these broken into little bits make GREAT dessert.

    Graham wrote on September 25th, 2009
  37. Soaking the nuts in pure water for at least overnight or longer makes them more digestible. The almonds will even sprout a tiny bit. Then soak the almonds in hot water to loosen the skins. The skins have phytic acid which lessens the absorption of B-vitamins. This is more work but imo worth it. I agree with skipping the microwave and using a low heat burner on the range to melt the oil and nut butter. I always double the recipe. Once I used Butter Buds for the binder but wasn’t overjoyed with the resultant texture.

    Nikki wrote on September 25th, 2009
  38. Question: Since I do not like coconut (wish I did) what do you think would be the best substitute for that in this recipe in terms of consistency–more nuts, flax meal, or something else? Thanks–this looks wonderful. Reminds me a little of Larabars (TM), my favorite store-bought bar.

    livesimply wrote on December 1st, 2009
  39. i made these today and cut them into tiny little squares which was plenty! as for the coconut, you can’t taste it at all!!

    i would love to know more about what to do with pumpkin…. it’s my fave and don’t really know how to do anything paleo with it!! (i will probably search pumpkin on this right now and come up with 18 things…!) love the site!

    em grace wrote on March 8th, 2010
  40. I like this, but I might combine some shelled hemp seeds to bring in a tad of healthy carbs, and some flax seeds whole, and ground..Maybe try them with no honey, or less..

    Sawtooth Rider wrote on May 6th, 2010

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