DIY Collagen Protein Bars
I’ve given protein powder a bad rap, since it’s usually highly processed and denatured. Conventional protein powders contain various stabilizers, additives, and artificial flavors.
When it comes to getting a boost of protein and amino acids, I recommend high-quality, grassfed collagen. I use and recommend Vital Proteins grassfed collagen – it’s a highly adaptable way to increase your intake of highly digestible, nutrient-dense protein. (This is not a sponsored post, although I have worked with Vital Proteins before. I love their company and their products).
This recipe uses collagen, not gelatin. Both have the same amino acid profile, but gelatin sets (think jello) and collagen doesn’t. You want to use the blue jar of Vital Proteins for this or Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolysate.
This recipe is inspired by the Sunbutter Chocolate Proteins Bars by Heather at Cook It Up Paleo. She recently guest posted a fabulous recipe here – Chocolate Cherry Paleo Granola Bars. I hadn’t come across a paleo protein bar recipe featuring collagen before, and loved her creativity.
Benefits of collagen protein powder
Why collagen over other protein supplements?
- It supports skin health – The appearance of skin aging is partly due to our reduced rate of collagen synthesis after the age of 20. According to research by Vital Proteins, collagen improves skin health by stimulating fibroplast cells – the cells that produce collagen in the human body. Studies show that daily consumption of collagen improves skin strength, elasticity, and moisture.
- It supports hormone balance – Traditionally, homemakers and chefs would practice nose-to-tail eating out of frugality, intuitive nutrition wisdom, and culinary expertise. Muscle meats would be served with collagen-rich sauces, aspics or broths. Interestingly, collagen-rich ingredients help to balance the amino acid profile in muscle meats. In this way, consuming collagen supports hormone health by balancing out the high concentration of tryptophan in muscle meats.
- It supports joint and bone health – Collagen makes up to 90% of bone mass, and several studies indicate that taking collagen internally can improve bone metabolism.
- It supports digestion and satiety – Two scoops of Vital Proteins contains a whopping 18 grams of highly satiating protein. As a matter of fact, studies show that collagen peptides consumed at breakfast are 40% more satiating than other proteins (such as whey or soy).
Where to get collagen protein
When sourcing gelatin and collagen, remember your are sourcing an animal protein. If you would prioritize grassfed beef over CFAO beef, then it makes sense to seek out grassfed collagen protein.
I recommend Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides (in the blue jar – their green jar is gelatin). It’s available here at VitalProteins.com, with free shipping on all orders.
A nutrient-dense protein boost
I’m going to get on my soapbox for just a moment and give a disclaimer to this recipe. These protein bars provide a concentrated source of assimilable nutrients, but I didn’t create them with the intention of meal replacements. Instead, I see them as a way to include two nutrient-dense ingredients – coconut and collagen – into your whole foods lifestyle.
I believe a healthy relationship with food means a relationship with the entire experience whole foods and meal preparation. No matter how “paleo” or “safe” or “clean” a protein bar, I don’t think it should replace the ritual of proper meals.
- ½ cup coconut butter, available here or here
- ¼ cup + 1 Tbs. grassfed collagen protein, also known as collagen hydrolysate - not gelatin (Vital Protein's Collagen Peptides or Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolysate)
- 1 Tbs. honey (you could likely use a few drops of stevia, adjusted to taste, instead)
- 1 Tbs. coconut oil
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract or ⅛ tsp. pure vanilla bean powder
- Pinch of salt
- The coconut butter should be soft enough to stir. Like coconut oil, the consistency of coconut butter varies with the room temperature. If it is solid, I recommend placing the jar in a pan of hot water, allowing the water to come halfway up the sides of the jar. Sit for 5 minutes to soften, then stir until creamy.
- Line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper or have ready a silicon mold such as this one.
- Note on the sweetener: depending on what sweetener you use, the consistency of the bars will vary slightly. If you use stevia, for example, the batter may be too liquid to create a free-form square on the parchment paper. You may need to divide the mixture into the wells of a silicone mold, then chill.
- In a bowl, combine the coconut butter and collagen. Add the honey. When the honey is added, the mixture will become slightly crumbly.
- Add the coconut oil, which will help "pull together" the mixture. If necessary, add another teaspoon or two of coconut oil.
- Add the vanilla and a pinch of salt.
- Transfer the mixture to the baking sheet and form into a square with your hands. Score the square with a knife to create small bars. Chill in the fridge until firm, about 30 minutes. Then cut into bars along the scored marks.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge. If desired, let soften slightly at room temperature before eating.