written by Katrina Seidman, RDN, LDN, Avalon Dietitian
These are so delicious it’s hard to believe they are so easy to make. If you are like my family and spend too much money on packaged energy or protein bars, you may want to try to whip up your own. I know what you’re thinking—won’t this take hours and dirty a bunch of dishes? Nope. Won’t I have to go out and buy a bunch of ingredients-probably not! Won’t an entire batch go bad within a week or so? Nope! Too good to be true? Not at all!
These nutrition packed snacks are super simple and easy to make using what you probably already have in your cabinet and only use 1 bowl-that of your food processor. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend investing in a good one-there are so many uses from making your own hummus to making batters such as for sunflower butter blondies (from a previous blog post). I love my 14-cup Cuisinart one, but there are other good ones out there too.And, If you are NOT willing to get one, you can totally make these too, just with a few adjustments.
This recipe is also a great way to use up small bits of leftover nuts, dried fruit, seeds, oats, and other odds and ends you may have lingering in your pantry. The possibilities for variety are endless.
And, I needed a nut free option to send to school in my daughter’s lunch bag, so I substituted sunflower seed butter and sunflower seeds for the nut items. You could also use soy nut butter and roasted soybeans as a nut-free alternative.
As if the above reasons were not enough to make you want to head to your kitchen, it gets even better—these bars (or balls, as I often form them into ball shapes), also make perfect gifts -I made a batch of chocolate chip peanut butter ones for my mom for Mother’s Day and gave them to her in a cute oversized coffee mug. With Valentine’s Day coming up, they make great “Galentine’s Day” gifts!
And, what about nutrition? Ok, so these bars are choc full of vitamins and minerals, fiber, protein, and heart healthy fats! In short, they are super tasty nutrition powerhouses! Here is the basic recipe, which can be adapted according to your pantry inventory and your family’s tastes..
1 cup dried fruit (we like raisins and/or dates) (**if you don’t have a food processor, I would substitute ⅓ cup of honey instead of dried fruit; or, date paste, if you can find it in the supermarket)
1 cup old fashioned oats (or you can substitute ground flaxseed or hemp seeds in this part to total 1 cup combined oats and seeds)
2 tbsp oil; I use olive (not extra virgin because of the strong flavor) or canola or grapeseed oils
1/2 cup nut or seed butter (any kind. We like sunflower seed, cashew, almond, and peanut, or our current favorite Chocolate Don’t Go Nutz! or a mix of any of them)
1/3 cup nuts or seeds such as sunflower or chia or can substitute chocolate chips here (our personal favorite :))
Pinch of salt-rounds out the flavor
Cinnamon to taste
Puree first 5 ingredients to desired consistency in food processor. (Or, if not using a food processor, add them to a large bowl and mix until combined You can use your hands here.)
Add, nuts, seeds,and optional chocolate chips for texture and pulse a few times in the processor (or do a final mix all together).
Oil hands and form into balls and place on small cookie sheet or press into greased or parchment lined baking dish to make bars.
Place in freezer and when frozen, place in a zip top bag back into the freezer so they stay fresh for a long time. They are good right out of the freezer or you can let them thaw for a few minutes before eating.
Makes 10 large or 20 small servings
Serving Size: however much you want to eat to feel good and energized
Calories: Calories give you energy and help your body function. We need LOTS of them at regular intervals during the day
Fat: important for helping us feel satisfied for an extended period of time and helps us to absorb nutrients from our food
Carbs: give us quick energy and helps keep our blood sugar stable
Fiber: helps with feeling full longer, can support healthy cholesterol levels, and help with bowel regularity :). Found in the fruit, oats, nuts, and seeds.
Sugar: not a toxic or addictive substance! Necessary for brain functioning, energy, blood sugar stability, and a yummy taste. The sugar in this recipe comes from fruit, honey, and chocolate chips.
Protein: necessary for building and repairing body tissues and helping us to feel full and satisfied. Found in the nuts and seeds.
Vitamins/Minerals: lots found in this recipe! This is a super nutrient dense food.
One of my favorite combinations is peanut butter coconut made with 1 cup of dates , 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut, 1/2 cup of chunky peanut butter and extra peanuts left whole, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. I have also thought about trying a sweet and savory option but have not tried it yet. You can find more recipes like this online for whatever kind of tastes suit you. Let me know what you try!