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

When 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:


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


  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:

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

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. Mark, the bars look great and I will be making them for my son. I have to say I was a little shocked and a lot dismayed by the fact that you endorse using a microwave to do anything with food. Microwaves change the molecular structure of food. I have stopped using mine except to warm up flax seed bags. Expensive warmer, I know. But I’m now (thanks to you) more interested in eating food how it was meant to be eaten vs. changing the molecular structure of it and then expecting it to truly feed my body. Just putting it out there.

    Stephanie wrote on December 6th, 2011
  2. Great Recipe! I added two egg whites instead of whole eggs, also a 1/2 cup flax meal and a teaspoon of baking soda. Put them in a 8 X 11 pan and cut into 24…around 110 calories each…I think…still working on the nutritional breakdown.

    Tamara wrote on March 12th, 2012
  3. This sounds delicious to me i was looking for some energy recipes as i have just joined the gym.

    five finger shoes review wrote on April 19th, 2012
  4. You might try using coconut flour in this recipe. You can buy it at Whole Foods. It adds a nice flavor and texture to both raw and baked protein bars.

    Laurie wrote on April 19th, 2012
  5. These are awesome! I tweaked a little bit: instead of t?!e dried cranberries and blueberries (which I simply could NOT find without added sugar and- ?!- vegetable oil), I used 1/4 c dried cherries (which I WAS able to find with no added ingredients) and 1/4 c dark chocolate chips. Yum. I’ve been looking for a good recipe for homemade energy bars for a while (my husband works 2 very physically demanding jobs, and I want to give him an alternative to canned energy drinks). These really seem to fit the bill. Thanks, Mark! You rock!

    Laura wrote on May 2nd, 2012
  6. I did a few things differently. I used my food processor and with one of the attachments I shaved the whole almonds and I pulverized the coconut. I even processed the 1/4 cup which was intended for the top of the bars. I set aside the 1/4 cup of coconut for use later. I did not have any of the “butters” mentioned, so I made my own. I took 1/4 cup of almonds, mixed it with the coconut oil, salt, vanilla, everything else…except for the coconut and almonds that I toasted. I used cranberries. They were processed along with everything else. When the almonds and coconut were toasted I added 1/2 cup of dark chocolate to the warm mixture. Allowed it to cool and then added everything together. Instead of making bars I made cookies. Instead of adding the coconut later and putting them under the broiler I coated the cookies with the coconut and then baked them for about 15 minutes, convection bake at 325*…they are a great energy bar. Thanks for the recipe.

    Angie wrote on May 17th, 2012
  7. If the ingredients are more uniform in size and mixed in a food processor I believe you would have better results. When there is little to hold the batter together, such as flour, etc., you would benefit by processing the ingredients so they blend together and hold together during the baking process. That is my opinion. I baked them as cookies, not bars, processed the ingredients well and the cookies are not dry and they are not crumbly. Hope this helps.

    Angie wrote on May 17th, 2012
  8. I’m baking this right now, so excited! I bought a food processor today and made some almond butter for it and it was sooo tasty. 😀

    Cristina wrote on May 26th, 2012
  9. Can you substitute hemp protein for whey protein in this recipe?

    Brian Whiton wrote on May 27th, 2012
  10. I made these last night and followed the recipe to a T – unfortunately they just don’t have much flavor…they hold together ok but they are just kind of dry and bland. I’d have to load them up with the blueberries or chocolate chips to make them taste better.

    Adriel wrote on May 29th, 2012
  11. I made these yesterday, I doubled the recipe but still came out with 12 squares…Should I be concerned about eating 360 calories/30g of fat from a bar? Or the fact that I ate 2 of them today?

    Brian Whiton wrote on May 29th, 2012
  12. think the mix can be frozen for later baking?

    Molly wrote on July 29th, 2012
  13. Is the protein powder absolutely necessary? I try to avoid using anything like that because I want to try my best to get stuff naturally (I have no problem with people using it, just a personal little goal). Are there substitutes?

    Robert wrote on August 16th, 2012
  14. So if I end up with a dry crumble what did I do wrong? The only thing I could not comply with the first go round was the 8×8 loaf pan (will have to get one)

    Tarcy wrote on August 26th, 2012
  15. I made these for the first time….and they didn’t turn out. Even using a spoon, they crumbled trying to get them out of the pan. They were still like batter, and I even baked them for an additional 10 min. Any idea what went wrong? I followed the directions, exactly….the only thing I can think of is maybe I ground the nuts to much? (they were coarse like breadcrumbs).

    Laura wrote on August 27th, 2012
  16. I’ve just made some, I couldnt resist more, it smelled so good. I let them cool for 15 minutes and there were no oil remaining. They’re delicious.

    I didn’t have some of the ingredients so I replaced it by others.

    Pecans => Brazil and Macadamia nuts
    Whey protein powder => Egg whites
    Dried blueberries => Dried dates

    For the rest I followed the recipe.
    Thanks !

    Theodora wrote on September 22nd, 2012
  17. I already use My Fitness Pal, so I added the info there as well. You can find it under Mark Sissons Primal Energy Bar

    Tony Elam wrote on October 17th, 2012
  18. chestnut flour helps bind :)

    Lottie wrote on October 25th, 2012
  19. Doubled the recipe right away but that was risky… better doing small batch first, adjust the parameter and then go full process. I feel my first try to be a little bit too heavy on salt…

    So like most I have changed a few things. Grinded 90% chocolate with the nuts, added some pistachio for fun, used unreasonable quantity of frozen blueberry and 4 eggs total (2 per batch). No whey and no honey.

    Did look like a failure out of oven even if I have tried to cook it longer, blueberry probably added too much water to the mix.

    Cut it in small bits and send it straight to freezer. Took the broken bits and rebinded them with pressure in a plastic film. Out of freezer the closest comparison I can think of in term of texture and taste is nanaimo bar. So next time with less salt (or maybe with banana) should be fantasticalicious.

    I’m not scared one bit of eating too much of it.. it’s good but you do feel quickly the “I had enough” point.

    The energy bar will be good for me at work as under stress I was sometimes cheating with less healthy option when getting a coffee, but then again I’m transitionning to tea to reduce the triggers, so I will see. I will have a better option for the occasionnal home cheating too…

    Thanks for the book and blog. Implementing paleo/primal is definitively adding life in my life… success story in the making!

    Eric from Montreal wrote on December 4th, 2012
  20. I know this is an OLD post, but wanted to suggest pressing the mix into patty pans (Australian here sorry.. maybe you call them muffin papers? Cupcake paper cups?) and then at least you can take them into the wild (school lunch box again, sorry we are Aussies we don’t get “school cafeterias)with out them falling apart? I also thought that icing them with a good quality chocolate might help them hold together and make the kids want to eat them more.

    Jane wrote on December 15th, 2012

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