Nuts are brain food. I developed this raw-food recipe in university when I was studying for exams and frustrated with the limited selection of quick and healthy snacks available. So I developed my own. These bars are packed with protein, fiber, antioxidants and mono-unsaturated fats. They contain walnuts, which feed the brain, a quick source of energy for providing a pick-me-up and give you that ‘little taste of something sweet’ without compromising your waist line. The nutrition profile is solid, though keep in mind being nut-based, they’re certainly not low fat. It’s good fat, but still, if you’re eating these as a regular part of your diet, make sure to balance them out by making some of your other meals lean.
These bars are fun to make and the healthiest of store-bought granola and protein bars don’t hold a candle to them in taste or nutrition quality. This is a flexible recipe that allows you to try different variations to customize the bars to your own tastes. I’ve made them with and without the chocolate chips, with cranberries instead of raisins and with cashew butter in place of the almond butter. The recipe below is one of my personal favourite combinations, but feel free to be creative and share your own tasty combinations in the comments below.
Be warned, you’ll have to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty making these baby’s, but I think you’ll agree, it’s worth it.
What you’ll need:
2 large (or one very large) and two small mixing bowls, mixing spoons
A food processor
2 9″X12″ lasagna pans
A potatoe masher
Wax or parchment paper and plastic wrap
Space in your freezer
1 c chopped soaked almonds*
1 c chopped walnuts
2 c puffed rice/millet cereal
½ c pumpkin seeds
½ c sunflower seeds
½ c flax meal
2 c whey protein (unsweetened)
½ c coconut
½ c dark chocolate chips (the best you can afford, i use Bernard Callebaut)
¼ c dried cherries
¼ c raisins
¼ c chopped figs
¾ c dates
1 package stevia powder
¼ c gogi berries
½ c almond butter
½ c maple syrup
- Line two lasagna pans with wax or parchment paper. Have another pan-sized sheet of parchment ready for pressing at the end.
- Place dates in a small bowl, cover with boiling water and let soak for 30 minutes or more to soften.
- Place gogi berries in the other small bowl and cover with water to soak. Sprinkle with little stevia powder to add sweetness to the gogi berries, which tend to be a bit bitter.
- Chop nuts, if necessary to coarse texture. Place all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix well.
- Remove dates from water and squeeze out excess water thoroughly by hand. Add to food processor with maple syrup and almond butter; puree until smooth.
- Drain gogi berries well and fold into wet mixture by hand (don’t blend).
- Add wet ingredients to dry; mix completely. Note: if you’re making a full batch, you may need two bowls to mix properly. Put half the dry in each, then add half the wet to each bowl and mix away. Consistency varies with each batch, but batter should be very stiff and sticky – use your hands to fold and press ingredients together. Mix very well.
- Once mixed, divide batter in to the two prepared lasagna pans. Use hands to press reasonably flat, then place the remaining sheet of parchment paper on top of the batter and press batter flat using the potatoe masher. Take your time; press around the perimeter and through the centre in symmetrical overlapping pattern. The more even and compressed the batter is, the better the consistency of the bars.
- Place pans in the freezer overnight.
- Once frozen solid, turn pan upside down onto cutting board, remove paper and cut each block in to 16 pieces; cut in half, then each half in half, then half once more. Marking the cuts with a knife blade first makes, like in the picture, makes it easier to cut the bars uniformly. Note: you could also cut each 1/8 into three bars, yielding 24 smaller bars per pan. This size is perfect for kids.
- Wrap bars individually with plastic wrap, pulling the wrap tight.
- Keep the bars in the freezer and take out as needed.
* Soaking almonds removes the enzyme-inhibiting substance in the coating. Soaking then in a glass jar, covered with pure water for 12 hours overnight produces large, crunchy nuts you’ll love eating. Make sure to drain well and store in the fridge.
Read more about soaking your nuts here.
Yield: 32 39g or 48 26g bars