CRANBERRY NUT ENERGY BARS – Vegan & Gluten-Free
Phil and I are on a three-week refined sugar ban (WHAT?!) to help me break my addiction and hopefully help whittle away at some of this baby weight. Going into the sugar ban, I really thought about some of the pitfalls that might stand in the way of my accomplishing this goal, and an obvious one was the intense junkfood cravings that sugar withdrawal can bring. I knew I would miss my salty snacks. My chocolatey indulgences. But not the lethargy. That’s why I made these energy bars*. Now I can have the joys of the former without the drain of the latter- and without all of the guilt!
If I need to grab some food before I run out the door, these energy bars are handily waiting for me! If a craving is hanging on and won’t let go, yep! They’re there. Though beware- these aren’t exactly low-cal. I’m keeping them around for emergencies only. AKA one bar a day! That’s right.
- 2 cups of almonds or mixed nuts (not peanuts)
- 1/2 cup of ground flax seed
- 1/2 cup of unsweetened flaked coconut
- 1/2 cup of whole dates (or 1/3 cup of chopped dates)
- 1/2 cup of sugar free dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup of almond butter (I made my own)
- 1/3 cup of coconut oil
- 1/2 cup of sugar free dark chocolate chips/chunks (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon of coarse sea salt (optional)
Place first four ingredients into a food processor and pulse until most of the nuts are chopped, then place the mixture along with your dried cranberries into a medium-size bowl. I used a Vitamix blender (which I also used to make my own almond butter) instead of a food processor, but if you’re using a regular blender, chop your dates separately so they don’t clog up your blender at the blade.
In a small sauce-pan on very low heat, mix together the almond butter and coconut oil. Once the mixture reaches a smooth, liquidy consistency, add to the bowl of other ingredients and mix well. If you’re curious about making your own almond butter, check out my Facebook post about it here.
Prepare a 9″x9″ pan by trimming parchment paper to lay across one way and the other of your pan, making sure the paper sticks up on the sides of the pan. Dump your mixture into the pan, pressing down into the bottom and corners. Next, just barely melt your dark chocolate chips very slowly in another small saucepan or double boiler on the stove, and spread evenly over the top of the pan. After spreading, sprinkle coarse sea salt on the top, and place in the refrigerator for one hour until set.
Once set, pull the entire square out of the pan and cut into pieces sized according to your liking. Storage of these bars depends on the temperature of your home, believe it or not. Coconut oil melts at 76 degrees F, so if your home is above 70 degrees, I recommend storing in the refrigerator so that the bars will keep their shape. But if you like them gooey, by all means, leave them out! But beware- if they’re out in plain sight, you just might be tempted to eat them all!
*recipe adapted from Elena’s Pantry