Hybrids are at the forefront of the energy bar revolution. But some packaged options contain unnecessary additives, so you’re better off making your own tender, protein-packed bars instead.

There are two important ingredients that keep these bars from tasting like leftover meatloaf. First, cranberries offer up some of the sweetness you would expect in a bar.

And round steak, one of the leanest cuts available, is used to keep the fat levels low and help the mixture dry out in the oven. Too much fat will encourage the bars to turn rancid more quickly, but a longer cooking time at a low temperature helps with the drying process.

Consider opting for grass-fed or organic beef. Studies suggest that steaks from grass-fed cattle are more nutrient-dense than those from their grain-fed brethren, while organic beef is not administered with hormones or antibiotics.

These “Beast Bars,” from my new cookbook Rocket Fuel, are dairy-free, gluten-free, and Paleo-friendly. Cook ‘em up and make your mammoth-hunting cavemen ancestors proud.

Beast Bars
(Recipe reprinted with permission.)

What you’ll need:

280 grams round steak (eye, top, or bottom cut)
1 cup dried cranberries
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 tsp orange zest
½ tsp salt

How to make it:

1. Trim any excess fat from the meat and cut it into 1-inch cubes. Place on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet and freeze until edges are stiff but not frozen all the way through, about 20 minutes. This will help the meat grind more uniformly.

2. Preheat your oven to 110 degrees Celsius. Place partially frozen meat and cranberries in a food processor and pulse until meat is coarsely ground. Pulse in remaining ingredients.

3. Line an 8 × 8-inch square baking pan with a piece of parchment paper large enough so there is a 1-inch overhang. Place the meat mixture in the pan and spread it out into an even layer.

4. Bake for 30 minutes, pour off any accumulated juices, and then bake for another 50 minutes. Let cool completely in pan before lifting out with parchment overhang and cutting into 9 bars. Keep chilled for up to 1 week.

Game Changers: 

Feel free to flip the recipe by trying dried cherries instead of cranberries; using liquid aminos or gluten-free soy sauce instead of regular soy sauce; replacing sesame seeds with hemp seeds; or swapping out the orange zest for lemon zest.