I recently moved to a new house about 35 minutes from my old one, but I still have a gym membership near my old place because I need to use up some training sessions before I quit. So I've been driving over there twice a week to train. I'm used to drinking a protein shake on the way to the gym, working out, then getting lunch. But now with the extra drive (and waking up earlier), I'm getting hungry by the time I get to the gym - and that is no good for working out! So here is where these (vegan, paleo, gluten-free) date and nut bars come in handy. I throw one in my bag straight from the freezer, and by the time I get to the gym they are thawed, so I eat it before heading in. They fill me up and give me a boost of energy - perfect!
These are also great for healthy homemade snacks or desserts, and especially for people with food allergies (other than nuts, obviously). I bet kids would love them.
The crust is made from nuts, date, and coconut - most of which is pressed into the bottom of a pan, and the rest is sprinkled on top later. The original poster is a big fan of soaking and drying nuts before eating them to remove the phytic acid that can make them difficult to digest. I tried it for this recipe and it took quite a bit of time (I dried them in the slow cooker overnight), but if that is too much work for you it's okay to just use raw nuts. The original recipe also calls for brazil and macadamia nuts, but these are a bit hard to find and a little expensive. I recommend raw cashews as a replacement.
The filling is made from dates, dried figs, and orange zest - yum.
Half of that gets pureed with water and vanilla extract, then mixed with the remaining half so that there are some nice chunks of fruit. Then the filling is spread over the top of the crust, which is a bit tricky, but it doesn't matter if some of the crust is pulled up into filling.
Then the rest of the crust mixture gets sprinkled over the top. It helps to press down lightly so that it sticks together. The whole thing goes into the freezer to set before being cut into bars.
After cutting into bars, wrap each one individually in plastic wrap and place in a bag in the freezer to keep for up to 4 months.
No Bake Vegan Date and Nut Bars
adapted from Healthful Pursuit
makes 16 bars
For the crust:
1 cup Brazil nuts, soaked and dried (see comments in post)
1/3 cup macadamia nuts, soaked and dried (see comments in post)
1 1/4 cups shredded coconut
8 Medjool dates, pitted
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp sea salt
For the filling:
2 cup Mdjool dates, pitted and chopped roughly
1 cup dried mission figs, hulled and chopped roughly
Zest from a medium orange
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup water
To make the crust: Pulse nuts in a food processor until chopped into small pieces. Add remaining crust ingredients and pulse until well combined and the mixture begins to form into a ball.
Press 2/3 of the crust into an 8X8-inch cake pan. Set remaining dough aside.
To make the date filling: Add all ingredients but water to a large bowl and mix until fully incorporated.
Transfer half of the date mix to a food processor, add water and pulse until smooth. Return this mixture to the bowl with chopped fruits and mix thoroughly.
Drop date mixture onto prepared crust, smoothing out with the back of a spoon. Then, crumble remaining crust on top.
Cover and transfer to the freezer to chill overnight. This will help the bars hold together.
Cut into 16 bars and serve or wrap individually to store.
Keeps for 10 days in the fridge or 4 months in the freezer.