Energy Bars!

Forget those expensive low carb bars with a ton of glycerin and maltitol. These are better! And one will keep you full and energetic for hours. This is my take of a recipe found on Mark's Daily Apple, a totally kick-butt paleolithic nutrition/exercise blog. The original recipe had a tiny bit of honey in it -- only 1/2 teaspoon -- and I couldn't really see the point. In 12 bars, that's not enough to taste, nor to affect texture much. I used both Splenda and erythritol, and upped the quantity; I got bars with a nice, mild sweetness, balanced by the nut flavor.

The original recipe also called for unflavored whey protein, but I had vanilla whey on hand, and didn't see how it could possibly hurt the flavor. And the original called for dried cranberries or blueberries, while what I had was currants.

The combo of currants (mine are Zante currants, which are really teeny-weeny raisins -- I like them because they distribute more evenly in batters and such than the big raisins do, so I can use a smaller quantity and still get raisin flavor throughout) and chocolate chips, plus cinnamon, reminds me very much of some delicious cookies I used to get at a Chicago health food store, back when I was a whole-grain-avore.

That Nice Boy I Married and I both loved these. I'll be making them again, and trying variations. Do remember, though: These are low carb, but quite high calorie; they're very deliberately made to be high fat/medium protein/low carb. So the serving size is one bar, you hear?

These would be a perfect snack to take hiking or camping; the sort of situation where carb-eaters would take trail mix or gorp.

Primal Energy Bars Redux

1/2 cup shelled almonds
1/2 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup shredded coconut meat -- divided
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons erythritol
2 tablespoons splenda
1/2 teaspoon salt -- preferably sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup vanilla whey protein powder
1/4 cup almond meal
1 egg
3 tablespoons currants
3 tablespoons carbsmart chocolate chips, chopped a bit smaller

Pre-heat oven to 325. Put your almonds and pecans in a shallow baking dish -- a jelly roll pan is good -- and slide 'em in. Set the timer for 5 minutes. When it goes off, shake the pan, add 1/4 cup of the coconut, and shake again. Let the whole thing toast for another five minutes.

Dump your toasted nuts in the food processor, with the S-blade in place. Pulse until they're chopped medium-fine -- some like breadcrumbs, some still in chunks a little smaller than a pea.

In a microwaveable mixing bowl, combine the almond butter and coconut oil, and zap 'em for about 30 seconds at 50% power -- you just want to melt the oil and soften the almond butter a little. You can do this while your nuts are toasting. Stir the almond butter and coconut oil together.

Stir in the vanilla extract, the two sweeteners (you can use all erythritol, if you prefer), the salt, and the cinnamon into the almond butter/coconut oil mixture. Now stir in the nut mixture, the almond meal, and the vanilla whey protein.

Now add the egg, and stir it in thoroughly.

Finally, stir in the currants and chocolate chips. (If your currants are a bit dry -- mine were -- put them in a custard cup with a little water and nuke them for 30 seconds or so on high, then let them sit for a couple of minutes. They'll turn soft again.)

Turn the mixture out into an 8x8 baking pan you've sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Press it firmly into an even layer.

Slide the pan into the oven, and set your timer for 7 minutes. When it goes off, sprinkle the reserved 1/4 cup of coconut over the top, and slide 'em back in for another 7-10 minutes. Then remove from oven, and let them cool in the pan a bit before cutting into 12 bars. Store in a snap-top container.

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12 servings, each with: 213 Calories; 17g Fat; 8g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 5 grams usable carb.

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Useful as a meal replacement?

How would these energy bars do as a meal replacement?

I'll be on travel a couple of days next week, and I was wondering if these could stand-in for a breakfast or lunch meal.

Would they hold off hunger as well as meat does? Could I eat more than one, or are they so filling I wouldn't want to?

is it like malitol?

Hi Dana...this recipe looks great but I am unfamiliar with the erythritol. Does it do the same things that malitol does to me? If I eat a low carb bar with that in it, I'm bloated and ummm...let's just say it is not pleasant. Same thing here or is it better? Or maybe I'm the only one that experiences this kind of thing. Thanks for your blog, I love it.

Erythritol versus Maltitol

Erythritol has some advantages over maltitol. Most importantly for you, it has the least gastric impact of any of the polyols (sugar alcohols), so is far less likely to cause, uh, social offensiveness, or even worse consequences. It also is the polyol that has the lowest absorption rate in the gut, so unlike maltitol, it really can be discounted as far as carbs go. (Roughly half of maltitol is absorbed.)

And no, you are far from the only one who has gastric trouble from maltitol!

Thanks!

Thanks for this recipe Dana! It sounds great and I'm always looking for something I can grab on the run.

Where can you find

Where can you find erythritol? What is it? Is that the sugar alcohol? How much do you usually use in a recipe?

Where to buy?

I also buy erythritol at my local health food store, Sahara Mart. It's 70% as sweet as sugar. I usually start with whatever the original sugar measurement was, and use half erythritol, half granular Splenda. I get the textural benefit of the erythritol, but reduce the cooling effect it has in the mouth. And generic sucralose sweetener is cheaper.

Erythritol

I buy erythritol at a local health food store. Yes, it is a sugar alcohol. It comes in both granular and powdered, but I buy the granular and if I need powdered for the recipe I'm using, I whirl it to a powder in my Magic Bullet.

I mostly use it only in recipes I find that already call for it. But sometimes in a recipe that calls for granular Splenda I'll replace up to about a quarter of the Splenda with the same amount of erythritol because erythritol, like all sugar alcohols, adds no usable carbs, so it cuts the carb count for the finished product. It depends on the recipe -- some of them don't take to erythritol very well because it adds sort of a cool, almost pepperminty, flavor. In other recipes, particularly those using chocolate, the addition of the "coolth" makes the flavor special.

I've never tried replacing more than a quarter of the Splenda with erythritol because my husband tends to have unpleasant intestinal reactions to sugar alcohols. But it might work for people who don't have those reactions.