I used to be a devoted fan of Clif bars back in high school when I was running cross-country and track. I felt like I was making a healthy choice by grabbing a Clif bar as a snack before a workout, rather than chips or candy like some of my teammates. It wasn't until I really started to get interested in nutrition in college that I discovered Clif bars (and most other bars on the market) actually aren't that healthy at all! For example, the first ingredient in a Clif bar is brown rice syrup; ingredients are listed on food labels in order of predominance, so this indicates that the main ingredient in a Clif bar is sugar. Another strike against Clif bars is that they contain soy protein isolate, which is heavily processed and potentially allergenic. Many of the other ingredients in the bars are simply other forms of sugar, such as cane syrup, barley malt, and rice syrup.
Needless to say, I don't eat Clif bars anymore. They don't fit in with my unprocessed, whole foods-based, Paleo-ish diet. That's why I decided to create my own nutrient-dense, whole food protein bars that are low in sugar and free of allergens. They are also a rich source of resistant starch, a type of prebiotic fiber that feeds beneficial gut bacteria and promotes a healthy digestive system, immune system, and metabolism. I plan to bring these with me for a quick pick-me-up when I am backcountry skiing, climbing, and hiking!
Prebiotic Blueberry Protein Bars
1/4 cup green banana flour (I use this one)
1/2 cup Vital Proteins collagen protein powder (be sure to pick the blue container; the green one contains gelatin rather than collagen)
1/4 cup coconut butter (I love this brand)
3 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp maple syrup or honey (make sure you are getting real maple syrup or honey, not a product that has been adulterated with high-fructose corn syrup!)
1/4 cup filtered water
1/4 cup dried blueberries
Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl or food processor until thoroughly combined.
Line an 8x8 glass baking dish or cake pan with parchment paper and fill with the mixture, spreading it out evenly. You could also use a silicone bar mold such as this one.
Place in the refrigerator for one hour until the mixture is firm. Once firm, cut into bars and serve or store in the fridge.
I would love to eventually find a way to make these bars shelf-stable so that I can bring them on backpacking trips where a cooler/refrigeration will be unavailable. I'll keep you guys posted if I find a way to accomplish this! Let me know what you think of the recipe in the comments below!