As a girl who needs a true protein bar (one without any carbs or sugar), I’ve found that there are very few that don’t taste like they’re pumped with weird chemicals. For a time, the ones I relied on were Epic’s Bison bars, which are made of, yes, real bison meat. Truth be told, they’re just okay, and I always felt that a better alternative must be out there. I didn’t find it until recently, at a store in San Francisco, when I spotted Kalahari Biltong.
I freaked out a little in the shop — I have been obsessed with biltong ever since I first had it while on safari in South Africa — and bought four packs. For the uninitiated, biltong is the African version of jerky, and looks like long flakes of beef. As the package states, it has the tender, thin texture of prosciutto (nothing like the jaw-tiring dryness of regular beef jerky), with tasty flavorings that are so much more interesting than “Teriyaki” or “Black Pepper.” Kalahari biltong is seasoned with a blend of vinegar, pepper, coriander, peri-peri chili seasoning, and sea salt; marinated; and then air-dried in a climate-controlled room for 18 days. It’s a totally natural process, with no preservatives or additives. The result is a super-tasty, slightly tangy, slightly spicy snack, which has 16 grams of protein (and if it matters to you, no sugar, no gluten, and less than 1 gram of carbohydrates).
When I first encountered biltong, it was nearly impossible to find in the United States, and also inadvisable to, say, buy at the Johannesburg airport and put in your carry-on. Since that time, it has become a bit more available, but I hadn’t come face-to-face with a beautifully packaged, widely distributed brand until now. Biltong is more expensive than an Epic bar (eight bucks for 2.25 ounces, versus fourish for 1.5 ounces), but it tastes so much better that I don’t care. One word of warning: There are supposedly 2.25 servings per bag, but good luck not hoovering the whole thing once it’s open.
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