Nut Chocolate “Candy” Bars

May 23rd

I would like to talk to you about nutrition/protein/fiber/breakfast “bars”. Bars are near and dear to my heart because they kept my husband alive during his single days before he married me. As I’m a big believer in “whole foods”, the ingredients list that read like an Old Testament genealogy was not okay with me.
Now I’ll grab the occasional Luna Protein bar when I’m in a pinch but I enjoy them for what they are, candy bars with added fiber. Brown rice syrup is usually the first ingredient, and this is a sweetener. Kind bars are pretty fab since they mostly contain just nuts and dried fruits, but becky-homecky over here likes to make things herself. Plus, at two dollars a bar we can save some cheddar. What I have for you today is an all natural, all “real”, pronounceable-ingredient candy bar. It’s not diet food, it’s not even really health food. It’s healthy in that every ingredient is easily recognizable and it contains naturally occurring protein and fiber (no isolated soy proteins). It tastes like candy, and I’m not even kidding.
On days when you know you should be eating this but want to be eating this, make these candy bars! They’ll take you five minutes to whip up and if your family doesn’t like healthy food, you don’t have to tell them what’s in them. Even if you did they wouldn’t be able to hear you over their shouts for “MORE CANDY”. You can be like Monica from friends when she was the “candy lady”.
Family results are in – Tessa calls it “Special Treat” and points at the fridge going “BITE? SPECIAL TREAT? over and over again, ad nauseam. Husband says they’re way better than a Cliff Bar, but not quite as tasty as a Snickers. I’ll take it.
Nut Chocolate”Candy” Bars
1/2 c. (heaping) oats, ground
1 1/2 c. roasted (unsalted) cashews
1 1/2 c. dates (pitted), roughly chopped
1/2 c. almond butter
1/2 c. maple syrup
1/2 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips (I recommend Ghirardelli)
1. Grind oats in food processor until powdery. Remove from food processor and set aside.
2. Grind cashews in food processor until finely ground. Add dates, almond butter, maple syrup, coconut, oat flour (that you just ground), and vanilla. Pulse until combined, about 10 pulses.
3. Add chocolate chips and pulse several times so that some of the chocolate breaks up but the chips mostly stay whole.
4. Line an 8×8 baking sheet with a parchment or foil sling (so that it’s flat across the bottom and hangs over two opposing sides. Transfer mixture into pan and using a moistened hand, press mixture tightly and smoothly into pan.
5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least three hours.
6. Cut into 16-20 squares and store in the refrigerator. Bars will freeze well, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap for several months.
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