Almond Date Energy Bars

17 Sep

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I don’t eat a lot energy bars these days.  Cliff bars, Powerbars, Mojo Bars, Luna bars – some are tastier than others, but most are loaded with preservatives and sugar.  Also, let’s face it, I’m usually not working out hard enough to justify a 300-calorie recovery “snack.”

That said, if I’m traveling and need to grab an easy breakfast (one that isn’t a sweet Starbucks muffin or giant carby NY bagel), I’ll usually opt for a Larabar, which are mostly just nuts and fruit.  So when preparing for a week-long vacation with my family, I wanted to pack an emergency stash of healthy, natural grab-and-go energy bars to keep us going on bike rides, beach walks and kayak outings.

The ingredient list is simple: almonds, dates, raisins and a bit of cereal for crunch.  Grab your food processor and some elbow grease because you are going to work for these tasty treats!

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You’ll need a large capacity, high powered food processor for this.  The almonds are easy.  They grind right up.

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When you add in all your dates, your food processor may fight you.  I added my dates straight from the refrigerator, and they just didn’t want to break down.  I ended up having to remove half of the mixture into a bowl and process the dates into the almonds in batches.  So stick with it, and maybe let your dates come to room temperature before attempting to make these 🙂

At this point you add in the ingredients that are going to make all these dates and almonds stick together.  More dried fruit and some sort of nut butter.  I used raisins and almond butter.  These, like all granola-type bars, are very easy to customize or adapt based on what you have or like.  Dried cranberries and peanut butter would be good!  Or figs!  Along with the dried fruit and nut butter, in goes vanilla extract, cinnamon and a pinch of salt.

After processing well, you’ll have something that looks like this.  I couldn’t help but think that this mixture would be excellent pressed into a springform pan and topped with some sort of no-bake pumpkin cheesecake for the holidays….I might have to test that theory in the coming months!

Here’s where you need a bit of muscle.

You knead the cereal into the fruit+nut mixture until everything is combined.  It’s kind of like playing with play-doh.  Really get in there and squish it in your (clean) hands.  You could use crispy rice cereal, but I had this Uncle Sam – toasted wheat berries and flax seeds – in my cabinet, so that’s what I used!

Press the mixture into an 8×8 pan and refrigerate for a few hours.  Wax paper is your friend here.  This mixture is super sticky, so line your pan with wax paper, then use another sheet of wax paper to press it down firmly and evenly.

After chilling, turn the slab out onto a cutting board and cut into bars.  I cut mine into 12 bars, but I think they could have been smaller.  These are dense and filling!

A delicious way to fuel up or just enjoy a guilt-free sweet bite while watching the sun set after a long, active day.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 2 1/2 cups of pitted Medjool dates (I used the entire package from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • 3 Tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup Uncle Sam cereal (or another puffed rice or grain cereal)

Instructions:

  1. Process the almonds until coarsely ground
  2. Add dates and process until combined (you may have to do this in batches)
  3. Add in the next 5 ingredients and process for another minute or two, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until very well combined
  4. Add mixture and cereal to a large bowl and knead for a few minutes until well combined
  5. Press into a wax paper lined 8×8 dish; Refrigerate for at least 2 hours
  6.  Cut into bars and wrap individually in cling wrap; Store in the fridge
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2 Responses to “Almond Date Energy Bars”

  1. Rose January 8, 2013 at 6:01 am #

    This is the exact sort of recipe I was looking for! Thank you! 🙂

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