Sunday, April 14, 2013

Quick Energy Bars

Protein bars are kind of the cool, easy snack nowadays, but most of them contain a lot of things that we don't eat anymore. I like Lara Bars, but they're expensive, and the ingredient list is so simple, I figured making them at home would be easy. Well, how come they can get their walnuts and dates to stick into a nice bar, but my food processor version is sticky and very un-moldable?

Enter coconut oil.

There are many variations of this bar, but I just have to say - if you've never used dates to sweeten anything, you have to try it. You can make them into a paste (add a little water and put them in the food processor, after you've pitted them) to use as a sugar substitute in almost anything that has a moist texture (like fudgy brownies).

This recipe can be made with any nuts you like, with any added fruit. The only thing is to note is that since coconut oil melts at 76 degrees, remember to keep them in the refrigerator. They get squishy at a lower temperature.

Before chilling

I call them "energy" bars instead of "protein" bars because I don't think the protein level is high enough to count as protein bars, but the combination of nuts, coconut oil, and dates will definitely give you an energy boost! This makes about 5 bars, 1"x5", about 1/2" in thickness.

Quick Energy Bars  
1 cup crispy walnuts (or almonds, pecans, cashews)*
10 dates, pitted 
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil 
In a food processor, blend the nuts for a minute until they're pretty well chopped.
Add the dates and coconut oil, processing and scraping down the sides until they're well blended. You can leave it a little bit chunky or make it nice and smooth.
Scoop out the mixture into a small square dish (you'll want the mix to go about 1/2" up the side of the dish), cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours before cutting.
Warm up your knife before you cut them into bars or squares - it makes it much easier!

Somebody wanted a taste...
My favorite combination is walnuts, pecans, and cashews. I think they'd taste good with a few dried cherries in there, too, but I haven't tried that yet. By the way, my boys call this fudge. :o)

Let me know in the comments if you try them!

*Crispy nuts are raw nuts that are soaked in salty water and then dehydrated. Why do I do this?

 -- Christine

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What do you think? Did you try this recipe at home?