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Cranberry Chia Energy Bars (Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free)

Posted Mar 08 2013 7:29am

We just can't seem to get enough of these delicious, nutrient dense energy bars!  
They have taken over as the 'granola' bar of choice in this home and every couple weeks I try and come up with a new set of ingredients to keep things interesting. 
Not only are these energy bars a snap to make - 10 minutes is all you will need to assemble these no-bake beauties - but they are also filled with health building nuts, seeds, fibre, protein and natural fats.  They make a perfect snack or grab n' go breakfast.  
A concentrated energy source with a low glycemic index, these bars will help you feel fuller longer and assist in preventing major jags in insulin/energy levels.
The best part though?
They are just so darn *delicious*
I made this cranberry chia version last Sunday for the boys' school lunches and, well, err... there were non left by Monday to put in their lunches! (happily, it didn't take long to assemble more...).
You have to try them for yourselves to see!

Cranberry Chia Energy Bars (Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free)
  • 1 heaping cup raw almonds or any other nut of choice
  • 1/2 heaping cup dried, pitted dates that have been soaked in boiling water for 2 minutes to soften (substitute dried cherries, figs or prunes for dates)
  • 1/3 cup just nuts walnut butter or nut butter of choice
  • 3 heaping Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp honey or pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberry

~~~~~~~

Spotlight:

Chia - chia seeds offer plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, antioxidants and an impressive array of minerals. Unlike flaxseed, chia does not have to be ground to be bioavailable (ie: to be absorbed and usable by the body). Flaxseed has a similar nutrition profile to chia (with slightly less nutrients - fibre, omega-3s, minerals - per serving) but flaxseed has the added benefit of containing lignans - plant compounds believed to be protective of breast health - which chia does not.  Chia is more expensive than flaxseed but due to the highly concentrated nature of its nutrients on a gram per gram basis, a small amount of chia goes a long way. 


Notes:

You can easily double the quantity of this recipe and play around with different ingredient choices as desired. 

Be sure to read through the directions for best results.



Directions:

Makes about 8 bars or 16 squares 

Place almonds in blender or food processor and blend for about 30 seconds or until nuts are fairly well ground.  Add drained dates, walnut butter, 2 Tbsp chia seeds, vanilla and honey/maple syrup blending until the entire mixture is well combined.




The most important part of the recipe: you want to make sure that the mixture is sticky - if it is too dry, your bars will crumble to pieces and you won't be happy.  Add a touch more nut butter to achieve sticky consistency.  The sticky factor will also help adhere cranberries and chia to the surface of the bars. If the mixture is too wet, your batter will never gel into a bar (it will end up like a blob of cookie dough - yummy but a bar it will never be).  If you find yourself in the latter situation, you can add some dry nuts/seeds to the mix.



Meanwhile, place a piece of wax or parchment paper into a loaf pan (the pan should be in the range of  8" x 4") such that it hangs over the sides.

Remove mixture from blender and press it into the base of the loaf pan using the back of a spoon or other implement to flatten and smooth it down.






Sprinkle the surface of the mixture with cranberries and remaining Tbsp of chia seeds, pressing down gently with your fingers so that they adhere to the surface.




Fold both sides of the hanging wax or parchment paper inward, one at a time, over the mixture and gently press down one last time with your hand on top of the paper resting over the mixture.

Place the pan in the fridge and allow the mixture to gel somewhat into a singular slab for about 1 hour or so.  If you wish to accelerate the process, you can pop the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes or so and return it to the fridge.

When you're ready to slice the bars, simply remove the pan from the fridge and gently elevate the slab by pulling up on the ends of the wax/parchment. 



Slice the slab into bar shapes or squares as desired.  Store any remaining portions in the fridge.



Happy Friday everyone, I'm going to be taking some time off to enjoy the March break with my family next week.  See you again soon.

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