Those who read this site regularly will know about the cyclist and carbohydrate consumer in the household. He with the waist-band that has only increased by 2.5cm in 30 years. Over the past week I have been confined to the sofa with a lurgy. I got to thinking about the miles and miles of energy bars and so-called ‘health’ snack bars in supermarkets. And on specialist cycling websites. There must be a better way to consume calories than using whey and sugar?
Himself invited me to taste a Naked Foods chocolate and date bar. To be honest it was really nice and definitely the best of the bunch. And it was low on added everything which is a real bonus. In fact the list of ingredients was so small I wondered if I could replicate it. So here are two takes on purchased energy/healthy bars. You might want to give them a try.
Chocolate date bars (makes 8-9 bars)
100g chopped dates (no stones)
25ml boiling water
50g chopped almonds (minus skin)
20g coarse oatmeal
7g cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Put dates and water in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until turned to mush. Remove from the heat. Add all the other ingredients mix well and allow to cool. Prepare a shallow rectangular dish by lining it with cling film then brushing it very lightly with any light flavour-free oil. I am not specifying the size here – you will have to judge what size depending on the amount you are cooking. You are aiming for an even depth of about 1.5cm. Turn the date and nut mixture into the lined tin and flatten with the back of a knife. the consistency should be fairly stiff – it should hold its own shape if you drop a spoonful onto the work surface. Now cut through with a sharp knife into even-sized fingers so that you can easily separate the fingers when cool. The amount given should give you about 10 fingers. Cover with oiled cling-film. Place in the fridge overnight till solid. Loosen each finger with a sharp knife and wrap individually. These freeze really well too.
High energy nut bars (makes 18-20)
100g chopped dates (no stones)
Half a cup of apple puree cooked with no sugar and reduced till there is no liquid
100g of any nut or seed butter (peanut, almond, cashew, tahini)
75g roasted almonds (no skins)
10g chia seed
30g coarse oatmeal
30g rolled oats
Heat the oven, containing an empty heavy metal baking tray, to 180F. When the oven comes up to temperature, place the oats and oatmeal evenly on the baking tray and cook until they smell toasty and have turned a shade darker – about 15 minutes. Then remove the tray from the oven but leave the oats on the tray (the idea is that the oats continue to toast on the tray whilst cooling – so don’t keep in the oven till they are brown)!
Place dates in a small pan and a little water, heat until mushy. Cool. Then add the apple puree and mix. Then add the nut butter and all the dry ingredients, including the oats and oatmeal and mix well. The mixture will be very firm which is just how you want it to be. To be honest you can add any combination of nuts and seeds you like so long as the total weight tallies with the weight given in the recipe.
Prepare a shallow baking tray by lining it with cling film and then lightly oil the surface using a brush. Pile in the mixture and flatten it out with a palette knife till smooth. Then mark into square or rectangular bars with a sharp knife. Cover with oiled clingfilm and place in fridge overnight. These bars will be crispy yet chewy the next day. Store in an airtight tin.