I have a certain fascination with the many ethnic grocery stores around town. It brings me great pleasure to wander the isles of any one of the Asian stores on University Avenue, the Indian grocers of Northeast Minneapolis or, one of my very favorites, Holy Land Bakery and Deli on Central Ave. I can spend outrageous amounts of time reading labels, taking in the vaguely familiar smells, browsing the isles, striking a conversation with shoppers, and enjoying being completely immersed in the experience. It’s one of the reasons why I love to travel so much… the feeling of being totally out of your element or familiar comfort, yet completely interested in the experience you are engaged in. The wonder if it never ceases to delight me.
One on particular visit to an Indian Grocer, on an afternoon where Chris and I were on a mission to buy mass amounts of chai spices and assam tea, I found packages of beautiful medjool dates; plump, juicy and elegant looking in their cellophane wrapper on the special end cap right when we walked in. We bought a package for immediate use and I also found smaller packages of baking dates, which was basically date paste with no added ingredients. I bought a few and thought, I bet I can figure out a way to make a raw energy bar out of this, much like those expensive individually wrapped bars on the co-op shelf. Don’t get me wrong, I love those little things. However, if there is a way it make it myself, I am game. Here is my attempt. They are dehydrating now as I write this post.
- 1 package (18 oz) Baking Dates (or 3 cups whole medjool dates, pits removed and soaked for about 2 hours in just enough water to cover them and they begin to soften)
- 1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
- 1/3 cup raw almonds, crushed in a blender
- 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut shreds
- 1/3 unsweetened baking cocoa
- 2 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1/3 cup Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein Powder 50
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cardamom
- 1 tsp ginger
- dash of black pepper
- dash of salt
1. Soak chia seeds in 1/4 cups water for at least 15 minutes. Seeds will become very gooey and “gelled”
2. Cut up baking dates into smaller chunks to fit into food processor. Combine all ingredients in the food processor and pulse until a very thick paste develops and all ingredients are well mixed. You might need to add more water to get it to all combine, but add as little as possible or bars will be very sticky and hard to work with.
3. Evenly spread a thick layer (1/4 inch) of paste onto wax paper or the dehydrating plastic sheet that came with your dehydrator.
4. Sprinkle a layer of coconut on top and use another sheet to press this layer into the sticky dates. This will make them easier to handle when you are eating them on-the-go.
5. Dehydrate overnight on a low setting if you have a dehydrator. If you have a dehydrator that only has one setting, you might need to reduce the time. If you have no dehydrator, you can use your oven on the lowest setting, door slightly ajar (not exactly the energy-efficient method, but it will work) for about an hour. Keep a careful eye on them this way as you do not want to burn the top!
6. Bars are ready when edges are dry and top is only slightly tacky to the touch. Cut into squares or roll into log then cut into individual serving sizes. Store in the refrigerator for a week and have some on hand for all your outdoor adventures, long days at school, or just a simple, sweet midday snack.
That’s it! Simple. No added sugar, no dairy, no gluten, a little bit of protein, a punch of fiber and a whole lot of sweet goodness! These are energy bars of another level!
I will post a picture when they are done!
1/29… Post update I almost forgot about! The bars came out wonderful. Dense, gooey date goodness with the little kick of ginger and pepper. A nice balance or sweet and spicy and great to take to class or eat before a bike ride home. I would probably add more whole nuts the next time I make these as I would have liked a bit more crunch in every bite! Yum.