Monday, October 29, 2012

Chewy Date and Seed Bars

I’m a snacker. Even an hour after lunch, my mouth already itches for food. It's not that I don't eat much, but I usually stop eating once my belly feels comfortably full. Before, I could eat till I felt the desperate urge to unbutton my jeans while seething for eating the last few dumplings on my plate, but I’ve practiced keeping my gluttony under control and just eat until I’ve had enough. At work, I always had a steady stash of things to nibble on, you will find my drawer spilling out fruit, polka-dotted bananas, rice crackers, raisin cookies, a Ziploc bag full of Cherrios, dark chocolate with sea salt, and when I get sick of my cereal, shiny packets of granola bars. 

I’m partial to Nature Valley crunchy granola bars, they got the right amount of crunch, there’s no metallic taste lingering on my tongue afterwards, it’s somewhat filling (depending on how hungry I am), and most importantly, they aren’t too sweet. Snacks to me, should hinge somewhere between substantial and a treat. These chewy date bars do the job, they make a good pick-me up in the afternoons when I’m ready to zonk out after lunch. 

Tweaked from the LCBO Food and Drink magazine, these chewy date and seed bars can be made in less than 20 minutes and ready to be eat in less than an hour. Basically, dates are simmered with water and added to the dry mixture to give a stickiness sweetness, oats and oat flour give the bars bulk and provide the ultimate nutritional benefits like fibre, nuts and seeds are mixed in for plenty of crunch, protein and healthy fats. Finally, toasted coconut and brown sugar are tossed in to add more flavour to the bars.

Although there are over seven ingredients, the beauty of this recipe is its flexible formula, you can use whatever you have lying in your pantry or head to your local bulk foods store to pick up what you need, as long as you keep the general ratio of oats, dried fruit, and nuts and seeds the same.

Chewy Date and Seed Bars
Adapted from Eshun Mott of LCBO's Food and Drink (Autumn 2012)

1 cup chopped dates
½ cup water
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup hulled, roasted, unsalted pumpkin seeds
1 cup hulled, roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds
½ cup chopped dried apricots
¼ cup toasted sesame seeds
¼ medium sweetened coconut
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup oat flour
¼ olive oil
¾ teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, letting the sides over hang. Set aside.

2. Combine dates and water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Simmer for 4 minutes or until dates or very soft and water has almost disappeared. Drain and reserve.

3. Combine oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, apricots, sesame seeds, coconut, brown sugar, oat flour, olive oil and salt in a bowl and toss to combine. Stir in dates until thoroughly mixed. Evenly press mixture firmly into pan with a spatula. 

4. Bake for 35 minutes or until top is golden. Let cool completely. Transfer to a cutting board and using a serrated knife, cut into bars or squares. Keep in an airtight container until ready to eat.

Recipe here!

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