“Let’s get it over and the door closed shut on it! Let’s close it like a book and go on reading! New chapter, new life.”
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
I’m floating into the New Year. Just going to let it happen. Not swimming against the tide, not pushing against the closed doors, not going to deny the passage of time. Making a commitment to move on—no loads of heavy thoughts or remorse over unmet goals. It’s new territory and I’m happy to have an invitation to attend the opening ceremony. This year was consumed with loss and I am ready for change. I crave a new beginning.
Some of us snack all day, others at night. Mid to late afternoon is my time. I crave something sweet and buttery, salty too. But if I ate cookies, cakes or pastries every day my weight would spiral out of control and I would also gain the medical problems of the obese. My favorite snacks are a crisp apple, six Wheat Thins with a scoop of almond butter and these Almond Joy Energy Bars. When I must have something sweet these energy bars satisfy my craving. A boost of vegan protein from the almonds keeps me energized through the afternoon.
This recipe pushes the capacity limit of my 14 cup food processor. It fills a 9”x12” baking pan, making 24 bars. I like that. I can make a batch of homemade snack bars that will last two adults for almost two weeks, or longer if we don’t eat them every day. Making the recipe is quick, the food processor does all the work. Pressing the mixture into bars of an even thickness and wrapping them individually takes the most time. It is time well spent. When my afternoon craving for sweets and chocolate demand attention, I have something ready.
The recipe is gluten free and raw, imparting a fresh clean taste and texture to the Almond Joy Energy Bars. They are just sweet enough from the dates and coconut and laced with chocolate to evoke the classic candy bar, Almond Joy. After processing, the bar ingredients should hold together, without crumbling, when pressed between two fingers. If it does not, add another tablespoon or two of almond butter, and process again. This will depend on the viscosity of the almond butter and the moistness of the dates.
|14-16||dates, pitted (170 grams of pitted dates)|
|1/2C + 2T||almond butter, warmed|
|1/2t||fine grain sea salt|
|1C||coconut flakes, unsweetened|
|1C||semi-sweet chocolate chunks or chips|
|2C||puffed rice cereal, unsweetened (I use this, it is gluten free.)|
|24||raw almonds for garnish (optional)|
- Use two pieces of parchment to line a 9”x12” baking pan, one the length of the pan and another the width of the pan. Cut the paper long enough to fold over the sides the pan. Using a pan with square coroners will result in more even sized bars.
- In the bowl of a food processor process the almonds until they are chopped. Leaving several large pieces is fine. Add the dates and process again until there are no visible pieces of dates. If the mixture stays on one side of the bowl, stop the machine, break up the clump and process again.
- Add the almond butter, sea salt and cocoa powder, process until throughly mixed. Pour the almond extract through the feed tube while the processor is running. If the mixture stays on one side of the bowl, stop the machine, break up the clump and process again. Add the coconut flakes and chocolate chunks and pulse until the chocolate is finely chopped and integrated into the mixture. Add the puffed rice and pulse just until mixed. Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl between processing. The mixture should hold together, without crumbling, when pressed between two fingers. If it does not, add a tablespoon of almond butter and process again.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Spread evenly, pressing down firmly to compact the mixture into bars. Use a small off-set spatula, stiff rubber scraper or pastry roller to press the mixture firmly into the pan. Take extra care to press down around the edges of the pan. When ready, the bars will no longer have a dull appearance. A shiny surface will develop as the mixture is pressed down into the pan.
- Chill the bars for at least 2 hours before cutting. Transfer the chilled slab from the pan to a cutting surface using the parchment paper as handles. If a 9×12 baking pan was used, the slab can be cut into 24 bars. Cut the width into 4, 3” strips. Then cut the 3” pieces into 1-1/2” wide bars. Wiggle the knife to separate the slab into bars when cutting. If garnishing the bars with almonds, gently but firmly place an almond in the center of each bar, using a dab of warm almond paste to adhere the almond to the bar. Don’t press down with too much force, the bars are still cold and will crack. Wrap the bars individually for a healthy grab-and-go snack.
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