Doug Cullen, the founder of Luminous Kitchens, calls his vegan, gluten-free energy bars the "gourmet third cousin of mass-produced commercial power bars," since they're made with simple, delicious, easily recognizable ingredients and deliver protein via nuts and seeds, rather than "synthetic protein powders or soy isolates."
Cullen, who also works as a massage therapist, says that developing the three available flavors was a "painstaking process" that he's been working on over the last seven years. He points out that there's a big difference between making a small batch for snacking or handing out to friends and the precision involved in commercial production. "Consistency-wise, you really have to nail down the recipe for a big batch," he says, adding that other factors also can have unforeseen effects; "Baking 10 seconds more or 10 degrees more really makes a difference."
But any pain he suffers in the process is worth it for his customers. The bars are moist without being sticky and, thanks to a light hand with unrefined sweeteners like organic brown rice syrup and honey, not overly sweet. The apricot bars are tart and fruity, the peanut butter flavor rich and nutty enough to please any peanut butter fanatic, and the hemp bars made surprisingly decadent by a judicious application of non-dairy chocolate chips.
The bars are available mainly at yoga studios, though retail outlets include Ozzie's on 7th, Birdbath Neighborhood Green Bakeries, and the Park Slope Food Coop. Or order online at LuminousKitchens.com.
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