All-Morning Energy Bars

SFS_paleo_bars-21

Makes 10 bars

Why This Recipe Works: It can be hard to find granola bars that are paleo-friendly because so many are made with oats, grains, and refined sugars. We wanted a portable snack that was easy to make and contained only whole, nutritious ingredients. A hearty collection of healthy nuts and seeds provided the basis for our homemade bars. Toasting the nuts and seeds before pulsing them in the food processor gave our bars a pleasant roasted flavor, and the moderate heat of a 300-degree oven ensured that they all toasted evenly without burning. Dates and maple syrup not only added satisfying sweetness to the bars, but also aided in binding the bars together. We found that processing some of the dates with the maple syrup, warm water, and an egg white gave the bars a slight chew while still allowing the nuts and seeds to remain crisp. We stirred the remaining chopped dates into the mixture for textural contrast; tasters also liked the little bursts of sweetness. The final step in perfecting our homemade “granola” bars was to ensure they were evenly baked. After baking the nut and seed mixture in an 8-inch square baking pan, we cut it into bars while it was still warm (which made cutting clean lines much easier), spread the bars out on a baking sheet, and returned them to the oven to finish baking. The result: Evenly toasted bars with lots of crunch and a slight chew that made a perfect, energy-packed snack.

Be sure not to overcook the nuts and seeds in step 2; they will continue to toast while the bars bake.

1/2 cup whole raw almonds
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/3 cup raw pepitas
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons flax seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
3 ounces pitted dates, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons warm tap water
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 large egg white
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Make foil sling for 8-inch square baking pan by folding 2 long sheets of aluminum foil so each is 8 inches wide. Lay sheets of foil in pan perpendicular to each other, with extra foil hanging over edges of pan. Push foil into corners and up sides of pan, smoothing foil flush to pan, and grease foil.

2. Spread almonds, cashews, pepitas, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and sesame seeds onto aluminum foil–lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until pale golden and fragrant, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer nut mixture to food processor, let cool slightly, then pulse until coarsely chopped, about 5 pulses; transfer to large bowl.

3. Process 1/4 cup dates, warm water, maple syrup, egg white, and salt in now-empty processor until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Stir processed date mixture and remaining 1/4 cup chopped dates into nut mixture until well combined. Spread mixture into prepared pan and press firmly into even layer using greased metal spatula. Bake bars until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Do not turn off oven.

4. Let bars cool in pan for 15 minutes. Using foil sling, remove bars from pan, transfer to cutting board, and cut into 10 bars. Space bars evenly on parchment paper–lined baking sheet and bake until deep golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Let bars cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 1 hour. (Bars can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week.) Serve.


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