For all of you who eat energy bars and are tired of eating the same thing day after day here is a delicious easy alternative. The “glue” that holds them together tastes like the date bars we ate in elementary school and were also a popular convenience mix for many years. With the addition of oatmeal, almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds these bars are healthy and delicious.
The bars contain one ingredient I never tried before but now love. It gives the bars crunch; a grain called amaranth. Whenever I try new ingredients instead of buying large amounts I just go to the organic section of the grocery store where food items are sold in bulk. If a recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of amaranth, I just buy 2 tablespoons! I also purchased the oatmeal, almonds, and sunflower seeds in the bulk food aisle. That way if I don’t like something I haven’t wasted money by purchasing bags of each item.
I think you will like these bars!
12 Sun-sweet Deglet Noor dates, cut into small pieces (about 1/2 cup lightly packed)
1/2 cup light agave
1/2 cup amber agave
2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped with a knife
1/2 cup raw shelled sunflower seeds
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons amaranth
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 X 5 inch loaf pan with non-stick foil.
In a large bowl stir together oatmeal, almonds, sunflower seeds, salt and amaranth.
Bring dates and both agave syrups to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently until dates are soft and mushy, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add butter and stir until melted. Mash dates with a fork and try to get the mixture as smooth as you can.
Stir date mixture into oatmeal mixture. Stir to coat all ingredients evenly.
Spoon half the date and oatmeal mixture in the prepared loaf pan.
Press with a rubber spatula to compress. (Really smash it down)
Add remaining mixture and press again.
Tent pan loosely with foil and bake bars for 45 to 50 minutes.
When cooking is complete the bars will be firm around the edges
and still “give” slightly in the middle when pressed.
Remove pan from oven and let cool overnight in the pan.
The next morning cut bars into 1/2 inch thick slices with a serrated bread knife.
Store at room temperature in a tightly sealed container or in Zip-top bags.
Bars keep 1 week.
Tips: You can use maple syrup in place of the agave.
If you prefer a crunchier bar you can toast it lightly in the toaster. Enjoy!
Published in The News and Neighbor on February 15, 2014