Healthy Homemade Perfect Bars (with collagen!)
This post is sponsored by New Chapter, maker of whole-food vitamins & supplements. All opinions are my own.
Make copycat perfect bars straight from your very own kitchen (and save a little money, too)! This homemade perfect bar recipe is lower in sugar, gluten-free, dairy-free, and uses collagen for a protein boost. Plus, they can be made vegan!
I’ve got to come clean – I’m addicted to perfect bars. How could anyone not be? I love the flavor and texture, but I don’t love the calories and sugar that come with. That’s why I set out to create my own version with less calories and added sugar, but all the flavor.
Are Perfect Bars healthy?
Great question. In fact, I get asked SO often if perfect bars are healthy (and if other refrigerated bars are healthy, too), that I wrote an entire article about it (you can read it here)! In a nutshell, these bars have a “health-halo” effect – consumers perceive their refrigeration status as a sign of healthfulness and often turn a blind eye to the nutrition facts label.
As a dietitian, I personally don’t recommend them as a bar to eat on the daily because they’re calorically-dense (over 300 calories per bar) and higher in sugar than necessary (their two most popular flavors have 18 grams sugar per bar). On the other hand, my homemade perfect bars are lower in calories, total carbs, and added sugar, but still packed with protein, which makes them a great anytime or pre- or post-workout snack you can enjoy regularly!
Perfect bar ingredients
What’s in a perfect bar? If you take a look at the ingredients list, the first ingredient listed is typically some type of nut butter, usually peanut butter or almond butter. The second ingredient listed is always organic honey. Yes, organic honey is still honey, which is still added sugar (click here to read more about the difference between added sugar versus natural sugar).
Some other ingredients I wanted to call out are the egg powder, nonfat dry milk, and rice protein. These contribute to the high protein content of the bars (along with the nut butter). When I first started experimenting with a homemade version, I wanted to use the least amount of ingredients possible. So, I opted for collagen powder (specifically New Chapter Move Collagen) in this recipe to give my homemade version its protein boost. It provides 10 grams of humanely-raised and multi-sourced collagen per serving.
Health Benefits of Collagen
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, making up about a third of all proteins. It’s one of the main building blocks of the skin, and is a key component of cartilage. It’s also found in our muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and more. Our natural collagen levels drop by about one percent each year starting in our twenties, which is why supplementing with collagen has become so popular.
The research on collagen supplements is still in its infancy. However, there is a small but growing amount of evidence that suggests collagen supplements are worth looking into for skin and joint health. It’s thought that taking a collagen supplement could help beautify the skin from within by providing the building blocks for and stimulating collagen synthesis. It may also provide therapeutic relief from activity- and/or inflammation-related joint pain. Curious to know more about collagen? I’ve addressed everything there is to know about it in this post.
What I love most about using collagen in my coffee, smoothies, and no-bake treat recipes is that it dissolves easily and is flavorless. There’s no grittiness, chalkiness or aftertaste. Now, let’s take a look at the other ingredients you’ll need to make my homemade perfect bars.
What you’ll need to make this homemade perfect bar recipe
You only need these 6 main ingredients:
- Peanut butter: The most popular perfect bar flavors are made from peanut butter, so I had to include some in this recipe. But instead of making it completely peanut butter based, I use half peanut butter, half…
- Almond butter: You could also use cashew butter here or omit the almond butter completely and double tohe peanut butter.
- Honey: I added just a little bit of honey to this recipe and trust me, it’s still sweet enough! You can also use maple syrup here instead.
- Coconut flour: Coconut flour absorbs some of the more liquid ingredients and helps to solidify the final product. Unfortunately, you can’t sub in almond flour here. However, you could try oat flour.
- Collagen: I use New Chapter’s Move Collagen in this recipe. It gives a flavorless protein boost, from its humanely-raised collagen, plus it has added plant calcium for extra joint support. You can also use any collagen powder or sub in protein powder.
- Chocolate chips: I use Lily’s stevia-sweetened chocolate chips in this recipe because they have no added sugar but still taste delicious. You can use any brand of chocolate chips.
How to make homemade perfect bars
- First, you’ll want to microwave the nut butters and honey for about 30 seconds to get them warmed up and a little extra gooey. Be sure to use fresh, drippy nut butter. What I mean by this is you don’t want to use the “bottom of the jar” stuff that’s extra hard and dried up (or else your bars could turn out dry). And you don’t want to use super thick nut butters (like nut butters labeled “raw”) either. We want the goopy nut butter from a recently opened jar (but make sure to stir it well so it’s not extra oily).
- Next, mix in your collagen and coconut flour. I like to start with just a scant, unpacked 3 tablespoons coconut flour, mix and then see if it needs an extra half to one tablespoon. We don’t want the dough to be too dry. You want the dough to be firm-ish and moldable, but not too dry to the point where it starts cracking.
- I usually fold in about 1/4 cup of the chocolate chips at this point. But make sure your dough isn’t still warm from the microwave or the chocolate chips will melt!
- Then, press into a parchment-line bread pan. To smooth out the top, I press down with the bottom of a second equal-sized bread pan and it usually does the trick! Top with the remaining chocolate chips and an extra sprinkle of salt, and press lightly with your fingertips of the bottom of the other bread pan again.
- Freeze for about 20 or so minute and they’re ready to eat!
To store your perfect bars:
Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. They’ll last for at least week in there. However, you probably won’t end up needing to store them for that long! 🙂
- Whey protein powder: If you don’t have collagen, no worries! Use vanilla or unflavored protein powder instead.
- Vegan: To make vegan perfect bars you’ll have to sub in plant-based protein powder for the collagen and maple syrup for honey. Keep in mind, some plant-based protein powders can be super absorbent, so you may only need to use 2 Tbsp coconut flour.
- Paleo: To make these bars paleo-friendly, sub in cashew butter for the peanut butter (you could try all almond butter, but I like to use a blend of nut butters for better texture and consistency).
- Gluten-free: Good news! These bars are already gluten-free.
- Dairy-free: Good news! These bars are already dairy-free!
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter*
- 1/2 cup creamy almond butter*
- Heaping 3 Tbsp honey
- 3 Tbsp collagen powder
- 3 - 4 Tbsp coconut flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch sea salt (plus more to top)
- 1/3 - 1/2 cup chocolate chips**
- Combine peanut butter, almond butter, and honey in a medium-sized, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until softened a bit, about 30 seconds. Don't overdo it! Mix well.
- Stir in collagen powder, coconut flour vanilla, and salt. Mix until a dough forms. Start with just a scant 3 tablespoons coconut flour, and add extra by the half-tablespoon if the dough doesn't appear to be too dry. You want the dough to be firm-ish and moldable, but not too dry to the point where it starts cracking.
- Fold in a few tablespoons chocolate chips. Make sure the dough isn't still warm from the microwave before doing so or the chocolate chips will soften.
- Press dough into a parchment-lined bread loaf pan (8x4 or 9x5). Top with remaining chocolate chips and an extra sprinkle of salt on top (flaky sea salt works great here!), and press chips lightly into the dough.
- Freeze for about 20 to 30 minutes to set. Cut into 10 small rectangles, and store in the refrigerator.
*Be sure to use fresh, drippy nut butter. What I mean by this is you don't want to use the "bottom of the jar" stuff that's extra hard and dried up (or else your bars could turn out dry). And you don't want to use super thick nut butters (like nut butters labeled "raw") either. We want the goopy nut butter from a recently opened jar (but make sure to stir it well so it's not extra oily).
**I use Lily's stevia-sweetened chocolate chips to lower sugar content.
Thanks for reading! Did you make one of my recipes? Leave a comment & let me know!
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease