Seeded vanilla date bars (Recipe Redux)

It's time for Recipe Redux again! This month's theme is "Bars and Bites for Brown Bags," and bloggers were asked to share their favorite healthy granola bars or balls to jazz up a portable lunch. This theme was right up my alley: I recently went full-time at work, so I've been packing up my lunch on a daily basis, and brown bag meals get boring pretty quickly. I've been tucking one or two of these seeded vanilla date bars in my lunch bag each day, and they have surely done their job of spicing up my lunch hour.

This is one of my favorite recipes to date (pun totally intended). These bars are chewy - my preference when it comes to bars - and a perfect contrast of sweet and salty flavors. I've kept my fridge stocked with them for the past two weeks, and I see this trend continuing for quite some time. They're that good.
I must admit, I was not on the date bandwagon from the start. They look like oversized raisins and remind me a little of huge, terrifying beetles you might find in the Amazon. But after seeing a few recipes for date bars circulating around the internet, I was intrigued and decided to give them a try. No regrets - dates have indulgent sweetness and a creamy texture that make for perfect on-the-go snack bars.

What's so great about dates?

Dates are high in a type of fiber called beta-D-glucan. Beta-D-glucan is a soluble fiber, meaning it dissolves in water. This type of fiber has been shown to help lower "bad" LDL cholesterol and raise "good" HDL cholesterol. Because of its ability to absorb and retain water, soluble fiber slows down digestion and the rate of stomach-emptying. Slower gastric emptying means your stomach is kept feeling satiated longer, thus aiding in weight management. Beta-glucan may also improve immune function by activating white blood cells which seek out and destroy harmful organisms within the body while repairing damaged tissues. Researchers at the University of California, Davis found that Deglet Noor dates have the highest antioxidant capacity of all date varieties. Antioxidants help protect against a myriad of chronic diseases such as heart disease and a variety of cancers.

I love it when delicious things are also healthy.
When making granola bars at home, one must make them cute.
Seeded vanilla date bars
Makes one 8x8 pan

1/2 cup pepitas
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
30 deglet noor dates (medjool could also work, but omit the honey and water)
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
Splash of water
  1. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Combine the pepitas, coconut, almonds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 20-30 times until the nuts and seeds are slightly broken down but still chunky. Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Add half of the dates, honey, vanilla, and salt to the bowl of the food processor and run the processor to create a paste. Add the remaining dates one at a time and process until smooth. Scrape down the bowl once or twice throughout to ensure a smooth mixture. You may need to add a splash of water to get the dates to come together. 
  4. Add the blended date mixture to the bowl with the nuts and seeds and use your hands to thoroughly combine the wet and dry mixtures. This should take 2-3 minutes. Dump the mixture into the parchment-lined pan and pack it firmly and evenly into the bottom. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours until cold, then cut into bars. Keep refrigerated until ready to eat. 

Labels: , , , , ,