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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