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

Primal Energy Bar Redux: Making a Better Bar

FinishedWhen you talk, we listen. You loved the Primal Energy Bar recipe we featured in September, but the comment section lit up with suggestions about how to modify and improve the recipe.

Specifically, you guys wanted to up the protein ante, with commenter Paul recommending adding a few scoops of protein powder, and Anna offering some great suggestions for firming up what was originally a pretty fragile bar (because, lets face it, eating your protein bar with a spoon kind of defeats the purpose!)

So with that, we went to our unofficial Mark’s Daily Apple kitchen to put it to the test! There were a couple of missteps (and even one small toasting incident that could have constituted a fire!) but we think we’ve finally nailed it.

The following is the new and improved official Mark’s Daily Apple Primal Energy Bar:

Primal Energy Bar Recipe:

Ingredients:

Ingredients

1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/4 cup almond butter (although cashew, hazelnut, walnut and even pumpkin butters will work well too!)
1/4 cup coconut oil (check your local health food store)

1/4 cup almond meal (simply pulse approximately 1/4 cup of almonds until it creates a coarse flour)
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp of raw honey (although, this is really kind of optional because the egg will help hold the mixture together)
1/2 cup unsweetened whey protein powder (or 60g)
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries or blueberries
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut to sprinkle on top

Method:

Mixture
  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!
  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. In a mixing bowl, melt coconut oil and almond butter (about 30 seconds). Remove from microwave and stir until smooth.
  4. Add vanilla extract, honey and sea salt. Mix thoroughly.
  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 an 8 by 8 loaf pan (a modification that we made to keep everything crisper and help the bars to hold together).
  9. Cook in a preheated oven at 325 degrees for 10 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven, sprinkle a ¼ cup of shredded coconut on top and place under broiler until top begins to brown.
  11. Let cool for 10-15 minutes. Cut into 12 pieces/bars.
  12. Enjoy or stack on wax paper/parchment and store in an airtight container.

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.

Nutrition Information:

Done

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

Calories: 184

Fat: 15.4 grams

Carbohydrates: 6.4 grams

Protein: 7.5 grams

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.

Give ‘em a try and let everyone know what you think in the comment boards!

Further Reading:

How to Make Dried Fruit

How to Make Your Own Jerky

10 Delicious DIY Salad Dressings

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. Lol! Mark, you weren’t joking. We ended up with almost exactly the same thing independently. Good stuff. Primal minds think alike? Thank you again for re-aligning my perception.

    The SoG

    Son of Grok wrote on January 8th, 2009
  2. I missed the first recipe for these so I’m stoked you put up a new and improved one. I’m definitely going to be making these for those meals on the go.

    Joe wrote on January 8th, 2009
  3. Wow – sounds pretty easy and very delicious. Definitely want to try this one. Thanks!

    Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) wrote on January 8th, 2009
  4. Can’t wait to try this. Protein bars are a regular part of my diet, but I’d much rather eat something that tastes like almonds than cardboard.

    New Bob wrote on January 8th, 2009
  5. Look great! Can’t wait to give them a try!
    And finally, a Primal use for bread crumbs! As a comparison for sizes to grind your nuts and coconut too.

    Pete wrote on January 8th, 2009
  6. What are some good options for unsweetened protein powders?

    Steve wrote on January 8th, 2009
    • I made these a little while ago. After I added my protein powder, the batter just turned into clumps. Maybe I should have just kept mixing and it would have been OK, but I ended up adding an extra egg. When I took them out at the appointed time, there was a lot of oil runoff and they still seemed too wet in the middle. Again, I may have been mistaken here, but I continued baking them. They weren’t bad, but they were a bit hard and dry. Next time I will try following the recipe and see what happens.

      BTW, I bought slivered almonds without realizing that it was going to be thrown in the food processor. It seems pointless to list slivered almonds when regular almonds or almond meal would have been fine.

      Samuel wrote on July 19th, 2012
  7. I made 3 batches of the originals… loved ‘em. The only problem I had was that I couldn’t stop eating them!

    Dean wrote on January 8th, 2009
  8. Past several months i’ve been eating alot of blackberries every day. I think blackberries would go great in this recipe, too.
    This recipe is great, i love it!

    Donna wrote on January 8th, 2009
  9. This looks delicious. A question about measurements – you say that for 1/4 c almond meal you can grind 1/4 c almonds – wouldn’t 1/4 c almonds yield a smaller volume of almond meal? Just making sure the 1/4 cup refers to post-grinding. Thanks!

    surplusj wrote on January 8th, 2009
  10. Yup, looks tasty – Good idea adding the protein powder – that’ll really amp up the recovery -

    Super-Trainer wrote on January 8th, 2009
  11. surplusj – You’re right. It won’t be one for one. It refers to post-grinding. Changes made…

    Cheers!

    Mark Sisson wrote on January 8th, 2009
  12. Mmmm. Looks very tasty and relatively simple to make.

    Tom Parker - Free Fitness Tips wrote on January 8th, 2009
  13. Hi Mark.
    Thanks for the recipe. One question: is the count given for Net carbs or total carbs? If total, do you know the fiber count?

    Judy Barnes Baker wrote on January 8th, 2009
  14. Mark,
    When number crunching in FitDay did you use the measurements as shown, or in grams? I’m becoming a gram-measure nazi, to make sure my “1/2c oats, 40g” isn’t really 57g, et cetera.

    If you’d like to lambast me for eating oats and not going fully Primal, feel free. My oats and I can handle it. :-)

    Andrea wrote on January 8th, 2009
  15. It is definitely a good idea to get unsweetened shredded coconut. One time I bought a big bag, and lo and behold it was the sweetest, tastiest thing I ever bought. I was looking at the ingredients after chugging down most of the bag and found it was loaded with added sugar. A real D’oh moment if I may say so.

    JE Gonzalez wrote on January 8th, 2009
  16. I made the originals and loved them but they weren’t too firm unless they were straight out of the fridge.

    Mark,
    Do you think they will ship well? I am heading to Iraq in three weeks and I would love for my wife to send some in a care package. I will be eating as primal as possible there but it will be tough.

    Thanks for all the good advice and I plan on reading the blog everyday like I do now, even though I can’t make the meals or control much of what I eat.

    Kevin

    Kevin Green wrote on January 8th, 2009
  17. Kevin,
    Good luck brutha! Be safe.

    Son of Grok wrote on January 8th, 2009
  18. I just made a batch. When baking, a lot of oil came to the top and made it look like it wasn’t cooking properly. I drained off the off, at least a quarter cup, and continued baking — it took about 15 minutes today. The only change I made to th recipe is I used walnut butter rather than almost butter.

    Scott Miller wrote on January 8th, 2009
    • I just made some (slightly altered the recipe) and oil came to the top of mine too… I think that’s normal. If you let it cool for 20 minutes or so, the oil soaks back in making them totally moist and yummy.

      FlyNavyWife wrote on September 20th, 2009
  19. I would have to change out the pecans (disgusting) and if you aren’t careful just about every whey protein is chalked full of sucralose which destroy’s my stomach anyways.

    While a good idea, I will stick to jerky and nuts. Much easier to make.

    Zen Frittata wrote on January 8th, 2009
    • get dr mercolas pro optimal whey or mircle whey its grass fed and tastes really good. all flavors except the mircle whey – strawberry are great

      kevin krautsack wrote on January 13th, 2010
    • Herbalife makes one allergen free protein that is vanilla flavored. No soy, dairy, or any of that junk. May be worth checking out. Just make sure you specifically look up the allergen free protein powder.

      Bre wrote on November 9th, 2013
  20. What would one use if they did not have a micro wave? I moved about three years ago and decided to leave my micro wave and not get a new one. Have not missed it till now.

    Can’t wait to try these.

    Tee wrote on January 8th, 2009
    • Lessee…how about a stove? Fire? Hot pavement? Magnifying glass under the sun?

      Marcus5 wrote on March 10th, 2011
  21. Any ideas where to get dried blueberries or cranberries that don’t have added sugar? I checked the label on both at the store and was surprised to find they were sweetened with cane sugar (or cane juice can’t remember). I had to look far and wide to find unsweetened shredded coconut. It ain’t easy being primal in a added sugar and everything contains grain products world!

    Dave wrote on January 8th, 2009
    • no idea… that’s why I’m desperate for a food dehydrator.

      FlyNavyWife wrote on September 20th, 2009
    • Hello,

      You can find dried fruit with no added sugars (or anything else for that matter) from justtomatoes.com

      They make all types of dried fruits and vegetables and don’t add any oils or sugars. I’ve found them at my local Whole Foods too (the website has a store locator too)

      Hope this helps :-)

      April wrote on March 18th, 2010
      • I think most co-op health food stores should have unsweetened cranberries and unsweetened coconut in their bulk items area…

        Amanda wrote on July 19th, 2011
    • If you are up for a little extra work, I recommend buying baby thai coconuts (about $1 to $2 each yeilding 8 to 12 oz water and 3/4 to 1 cup chopped meat)for both fresh coconut water (delicious!) and your raw, unsweetened coconut meat. For the easiest way to open and retrieve the water and meat see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THEdI_gSNQ4
      Once opened, drain off the coconut water, get a spoon and scrape out the meat. Place meat in food processor to finely chop. If you want, place chopped raw coconut meat into a non-stick pan over med-high heat, stir frequently and it will lightly toast.

      Rae wrote on March 19th, 2012
  22. Dave,
    I have not been able to find unsweetened cranberries (the only company that sells them online has a 4 pound minimum!). Believe me, I have looked pretty thoroughly.
    As for blueberries, you can find them most anywhere freeze dried. I order mine by the can online from a company called Honeyville Grain (lol I know grain in the name.. ironic right?). They have good almond flour too.

    The SoG

    Son of Grok wrote on January 9th, 2009
  23. Steve,
    Re: Unsweetened protein powders.
    I actually blogged about this yesterday if you want to check it out. http://trainsmarteatright.blogspot.com/2009/01/are-you-getting-enough.html

    Pete wrote on January 9th, 2009
  24. Andrea – We just used the FitDay volume measurements. If we used 1/2 cup I put 1/2 cup into FitDay. I hope that answers your question.

    Mark Sisson wrote on January 9th, 2009
  25. Whats the protein count on this if you opt to not use the unsweetened whey powder, or what is a good substitute?

    I have no idea where to get unsweetened whey, except for the website above, and I really want to make these tomorrow haha I will probably more than likely order a jug of the custom true protein stuff, but I dont want to wait x amount of buisness days to make it when I can go get all the ingredients besides that on my way home from work tomorrow.

    Brandon wrote on January 11th, 2009
  26. I made them! With modifications as people are wont to do, of course…

    Here are my ingredients:
    80g toasted ground almonds
    50g toasted chopped walnuts
    30g toasted ground coconut
    50g almond butter
    2tsp vanilla
    60g whey (mix of choc and plain)
    2 omega3 eggs
    1tsp salt
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    28g freeze dried blueberries
    40g chopped dark chocolate
    ~10 drops liquid stevia

    What happened: I followed instructions but only chopped walnuts instead of grinding. Mixing with the extra egg was fine, since I omitted the coconut oil (was afraid of the extra runoff reported above).

    What went wrong: oven temp a shade too high (340), and I cooked for about 14 min – too long!
    Ended up tasty but a little dry – I would fix the baking time and probably use 3 omega egg yolks instead of 2 whole eggs – I know that egg whites toughen up batters with scary efficiency.

    What went right – these taste good! I like the adding of some chocolate as a partial sub for the coconut oil. I would also add a little more stevia for some extra sweetness.

    Good luck, ya’ll! ;-)

    Andrea wrote on January 11th, 2009
  27. I made them yesterday. They were great but a little crumbly coming out of the pan. I think I’ll add an extra egg next time. I used Agave nectar instead of honey. I also used vanilla protein powder which was all I had on hand. I’ll definitely be making these again!

    Dave wrote on January 11th, 2009
    • I added two eggs and a little more coconut and they crumbled less for me. I also think not toasting the nuts/coconut too much or not toasting them at all can help that. Oh and I added 1/4 c butter, heh. These are like cookies to me, have to try not to eat too many. :)

      Lizzy wrote on September 3rd, 2011
  28. I made these today, I dont know what I did wrong, but they didnt turn out for me…Ill stick to jerky and trail mix…

    Brandon wrote on January 12th, 2009
  29. Brandon,
    If they were too tough (like mine), keep the baking time/temp to 10min and 325 and no more – you’ll be tempted to overbake which does even worse things with these bars than it does to brownies. Turns them into bricks!

    If you think you might have overbaked a little, take them directly from the oven to the freezer or a snowbank outside to halt the cooking. On your counter it will keep cooking for at least 5 minutes as it starts to cool….

    Andrea wrote on January 13th, 2009
  30. No, it was taste. Probably the whey powder I used. I tend to fail at primal baking. With the exception of meats, all I can really bake is primal banana bread. Im better at stovetop.

    Brandon wrote on January 13th, 2009
    • Primal banana bread sounds tasty…got the recipe on hand?

      naughtyzebra wrote on June 10th, 2009
      • Here you go! I don’t remember exactly where I found this so I can’t give due credit, but I’ve been using it for months now and it’s awesome! The bread stays moist, even if its left out for two weeks… In the fridge it can last for around three, but any more and you’re pushing it. I prefer using sunflower seed to replace the almond, but that’s because I’m a picky paleo :) To me, its very sweet, filling, and almost addictive… Using an 8in X 5in baking pan makes the bread around 1in to 1.5in in width, but its thick and makes a great breakfast with just one slice. It won’t hold up to heavy loading with thin slices, so if you want bread for sandwiches I would go to
        http://www.google.com/url?q=http://paleoforkids.net/paleo-breakfast-bread/&sa=U&ei=MrtLUcnxDMeoiALv5oDIBA&ved=0CBgQFjAA&sig2=xMax55GtbjX-SNnvh-MShA&usg=AFQjCNEr_SDkBPbmwmfCRg-mBnN8e2wKkA
        and quadrupled to make a “normal” sized loaf that is sturdy, thick, and just as delicious. No matter which way you go, good luck with your baking. Enjoy!

        Paleo Banana Bread
        Prep time
        10 mins
        Cook time
        60 mins
        Total time
        1 hour 10 mins

        Serves: 8
        Ingredients

        * 4 bananas, yellow (they do not need to be overly ripe but
        you can if you want)
        * 4 eggs
        * 1/2 cup almond butter (or any nut butter, i.e. macadamia,
        pecan, etc)
        * 4 tablespoons grass-fed butter, melted (can substitute
        coconut oil)
        * 1/2 cup coconut flour
        * 1 tablespoon cinnamon
        * 1 teaspoon baking soda
        * 1 teaspoon baking powder
        * 1 teaspoon vanilla
        * pinch of sea salt

        Instructions

        1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit
        2. Combine your bananas, eggs, and nut butter, and grass-fed
        butter in a blendtec, blender, food processor, or mixing bowl and
        mix well (if using a mixing bowl you need a good hand-mixer)
        3. Once all of your ingredients are blended, add in your
        coconut flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, and
        sea salt and mix well
        4. Grease a 9×5 glass (see notes) loaf pan with a fat of your
        choice (I used grass-fed butter). If you use a metal pan it will
        probably bake in 35-40 minutes so start checking at 35 to ensure
        the middle stays moist
        5. Pour in your batter and spread it evenly throughout
        6. Place in your preheated oven and bake for 55-60 minutes or
        until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
        7. Remove from oven and flip your bread out onto a cooling
        rack
        8. Slice and serve

        Variations

        1. Cranberry Orange – Only use 3 tablespoons of butter. Add
        zest of one whole orange diced, juice of one whole orange, and1
        cup dried cranberries or fresh if you want
        2. Chocolate Blueberry – Add 1 cup of fresh blueberries and ½
        cup of cocoa powder
        3. Pumpkin Pecan – Reduce the almond butter to ¼ cup and add ½
        cup of pumpkin puree and 1 cup of roughly chopped pecan pieces

        Notes
        If you want to make these into muffins, use the same recipe and
        for mini muffins bake approximately 25 mins and normal size
        muffins 30-35 minutes.

        Dimone wrote on March 21st, 2013
        • Thanks for the wonderful bread recipes ;)

          Susan wrote on May 20th, 2013
  31. I loved the original recipe, but was definitely excited to try new version to get the added protein. I followed recipe to a T but left out the honey and used Jay Robb vanilla whey powder instead of unsweetened. It came out really dry and crumbly, not moist and sweet like the original :( I think I’ll make another batch and cut the baking time in half, see if it helps cuz I really want to make it work!

    katherine wrote on January 16th, 2009
  32. I tried to make these this morning but they came out super oily and not very tasty. I have to admit, I can’t see myself eating these but feeding them to the squirrels instead.

    Any ideas?

    CareBear wrote on January 18th, 2009
  33. I have been using Optimum Nutrition’s 100% Whey Protein – Gold Standard for many years. It seems to have a better taste than most protein powders. Of course I have only used the chocolate so I’m not sure about the other flavors.

    Last time I needed to order some I noticed they now have the same powder sweetened with stevia. It’s called 100% Whey Protein – Gold Standard (natural). It’s not very sweet at all. It has a very light but pleasant chocolaty taste. I like to mix it with 3/4 cup of cold water and 1/4 cream for a quick and light low carb breakfast or snack.

    Amazon has about the best price I have found.

    Matt wrote on January 22nd, 2009
  34. Matt, ON also makes a variety called “AnyWhey” which is meant for cooking and is completely unflavored/sweetened.

    That might be just the ticket here.

    FWIW, I find the best prices on most of my supplementy things at LuckyVitamin.

    Andrea wrote on January 22nd, 2009
  35. I absolutely love these bars however, they are coming out crumbly and I have to eat them with a spoon. Does anyone have any suggestions to make them more “bar” like?

    Thanks

    Nichole wrote on January 26th, 2009
    • This is a LATE reply but I’ve made this recipe a few times and found that adding an extra egg to the recipe helps it hold together better.

      EL wrote on July 8th, 2009
      • Thanks for the suggestion, EL.

        Mark Sisson wrote on July 9th, 2009
  36. Mark,

    My two teen-age boys have been a challenge when it comes to wholesome snacks so I was delighted when I made a batch of your Primal Energy Bar (Redux) yesterday, so tasty I left very little for them and will be doubling up on the recipe in future.

    I substituted dried gooseberries for blueberries, added some walnuts & macadamians to the almonds – it solidified nicely and no excess oil as others have previously noted.

    These will be added to their school lunches along with the jerky (beef & salmon) I’ve been making for some time.

    I’ve yet to try your salsa recipe but I’ve found home-made always vastly superior to the store bought variety – fresh & crunchy springs to mind as a major difference.

    Best wishes,

    Scott

    Scott Stewart wrote on January 29th, 2009
  37. I’d just like to say that I made this a couple days ago without the egg, protein powder or toasting anything and tried it uncooked and it tasted even better than the cooked version. I now eat it in the mornings as a breakfest along with black tea.

    ALK wrote on February 2nd, 2009
  38. I’ve made these twice now in the past couple of weeks. Good stuff, thanks Mark. I did not use shredded coconut, but I did use coconut oil. My first batch I used a few extra almonds and pecans to make up the difference. The second batch I subbed sunflower seeds which weren’t bad (though they were salted.. just used bagged stuff, not the best). Used a full dose of chocolate whey protein powder instead of unsweetened which gave it a good chocolate kick without using the dark chocolate (although I would have rather gone unsweetened with dark chocolate, probably next time). Everything else I followed the recipe. I did not find it too oily while baking. It’s going to be naturally oily.. hey it’s 72% fat. But nothing drippy or anything. Both batches were very crumbly though. I’d like to find a modification to this that will make a bar that’s well held together so I can carry it with me without a bowl. They’re delicious as a quick and easy snack or small breakfast though!

    Jason Turnage wrote on February 3rd, 2009
  39. Mark,

    Can you break down the fat content and let us know what of the 15.4g is saturated fat? I know there’s an option on http://www.myfitnesspal.com to get just saturated fat but I’m not familiar with FitDay.

    Thanks,

    - Jude

    Jude wrote on February 11th, 2009
  40. Hi Jude,

    The saturated fat content per serving (1/12 of the entire batch) is 5.6 grams. The entire batch contains 67.1 grams of saturated fat.

    Worker Bee wrote on February 11th, 2009

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