Great Ape Cook-Off Challenge #1: "What's in a Chow?"

What’s in a Chow?

We kicked off The Great Ape Cook-Off with a primate chow challenge! Primate chow is a nutritional biscuit that the chimps all receive daily in addition to balanced meals throughout the day. The chimps love their chow biscuits, sometimes soaking them in juice before eating them, as if dunking cookies in milk.

Since they get these biscuits every day, we thought we’d try to dress them up a bit and make them more fun. Let the games begin!


What did you make?

Jen: I made a banana and tahini cookie with primate chow. The biscuits are pretty hard by themselves so I had the idea of breaking them down into a flour like consistency using a powerful Vitamix blender. I then mixed that with mashed banana and tahini, added a little vanilla and agave, flax meal, and cinnamon. Tahini is very high in iron and healthy fats, but the flavor also pairs great with banana for that sweet/savory taste! The cinnamon added a kick that it needed, and it also acts as an anti-inflammatory and controls blood sugar levels. I then rolled my dough in rice krispie cereal to give it a crunchy texture and funky appearance. Just like humans, chimps eat with their eyes!

Kaleigh: I made a coconut and sweet potato cookie with primate chow. I blended some of the primate chow biscuits into a powder and mixed it with mashed sweet potato, vanilla, shredded coconut, flax meal, and chia seeds. The flax meal and chia seeds were mostly to give it a thicker texture and to bind the other ingredients together but as a bonus they are both super healthy ingredients. Flax is high in omega-3s and chia is a great way to add antioxidants, protein, and fiber into a meal with just a small amount of the ingredient. Sometimes you have to sneak in healthy ingredients where you can. I rolled the dough that I made into balls and rolled this in chocolate powder. Did you know that there is just over a gram of protein in a tablespoon if sugar free cocoa powder? It doesn’t have to be an unhealthy ingredient.


chow cookies


What did the chimps think of it?

Jen: I would say my first time cooking for the chimps was a pleasant success! Everyone seemed to really enjoy the novel treat, except Emma who doesn’t like bananas. (Yes, not all primates enjoy them as the cliche goes!) Topo loved it and shoved the whole thing in his mouth at once. Herbie slowly took his time and savored each bite. I love creating new and exotic treats for the chimpanzees using healthy ingredients they would normally consume in their diets! Who said healthy couldn’t be delicious?

Kaleigh: Turns out that the cocoa powder I rolled the cookies in was too bitter of an ingredient and the chimps were apprehensive to try it during the testing phase. Patti handed it back to me after licking it. I added a date syrup to the top of the cookies and they liked it after that. I do think Jen was the winner of this challenge but CJ definitely loved the date syrup and Emma preferred mine because she doesn’t like bananas at all.


What would you use instead of primate chow if you were going to make this for your friends?

Jen: I got the idea for this recipe from a quick and healthy snack I usually make-energy bites. Instead of primate chow, I usually use oats. And for those who have a sweet tooth like myself, I add some dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs!

Kaleigh: I think this could be a fun, healthy snack without the primate chow. I did try the version with the primate chow and it was pretty good but I would use graham cracker crumbs instead, if I were making it for humans. I’d like to try to make a more savory version of it too!


The winner of the “What’s in a Chow?” challenge is: