I often find myself whittling away many, many minutes in the aisles of health food stores, perusing the power bar/energy bar aisles in search of the perfect energy bar. I want something for an afternoon snack to maintain blood sugar and energy before a workout, or for recovery to feed muscles after a workout. Here is what I’m after: low sugar, gluten free, reasonably low carb, all natural – nothing processed – no soy protein or soy protein isolate of any kind (processed! not a whole food!), high protein, high fiber, preferably vegan.
It is nearly impossible to fulfill this apparently tall request. Most high protein bars are filled with chemicals and soy protein and sugar. Clif bars are one such example: the first ingredient is brown rice syrup (sugar), followed by their protein blend that includes soy protein isolate. Same with Balance Bars, even their new line: Balance Bar Simple made with “natural” ingredients. First ingredient? Sugar. Also, soy protein isolate. Since when is that natural?
Other natural bars are filled with nuts and dried fruit but lack protein. Don’t be fooled by evaporated cane juice and brown rice syrup: fancy names for sugar. Soy protein isolate is a chemicalized form of soy produced in a lab that can cause health problems in certain people when eaten regularly. Stay away from it, especially in protein powders.
So I decided to create my own energy bar. Not too easy of a task; I realize that my tall order really might be impossible. But at least I got what I wanted: semi-high protein, no added sugar, all natural, gluten free, some fiber. I’ll share it with you. I call it the Crazy Coconut Bar. It’s still in development, but it turned out so well that I got excited and had to share. Enjoy.
Crazy Coconut Bar
1/4 cup gluten free flour, such as almond meal or Pamela’s Gluten Free Baking Mix
3/4 cup vanilla whey protein (does have dairy, could use rice protein but haven’t tried that yet)
1 cup oats
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp sea salt
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (or 1 egg, but omit for a more hypoallergenic bar)
1/2 cup dried flaked coconut
½ cup dried turkish apricots, diced
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1-2 tblsp flaxseeds, could be ground or whole
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
¼ tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp coconut oil
Preheat oven to 350. Oil an 8×8 glass dish with coconut oil. Sift together all dry ingredients, including protein powder and spices but not fruit and nuts. Mix together remaining wet ingredients, including fruit and nuts and coconut oil. Add wet to dry and knead with hands to mix thoroughly. Press into pan and dust with flaked coconut. Bake for 20-25 minutes until top is lightly brown and coconut looks toasted. Cut into 10 squares. Keep in tightly sealed container or freeze.
My rough nutrition analysis looks something like this:
One bar =~200 calories; 7 g protein; 8 g fat; 2 grams fiber. Don’t have sugar or carb reading yet. My one complaint is that they do seem to fall apart easily. I therefore upped the applesauce in this recipe (I only used 1/3 cup in mine). As I said, it’s still in development and I therefore reserve the right to update in the future 🙂 I will also photograph the next batch and experiment with rice protein and different nut/fruit combos. Maybe even carob chips.
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. In addition to her coaching practice, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and kick nagging digestive issues for good. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.
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