chia seeds

One issue I take with energy bars it that they’re often too sweet – not every snack needs to be an over the top candy bar flavor. These extra natural bars are entirely sweetened by fruit, and have no added sugar, no honey, no agave… nothing. They’re also gluten free and even stash a bit of protein with their quinoa base. And of course, the great chia is responsible for holding everything together in every delicious bite. Grab-and-go energy à la chia!

Makes 16 bars

Ingredients

¾ cup Medjool dates, pits removed (about 7-8)
2/3 cup white grape juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup chia seeds, divided
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1½ cups quinoa flakes
1 cup unsalted pistachios, shells removed and coarsely chopped
½ cup raw walnuts, coarsely chopped
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1½ teaspoon cinnamon
1½ cup dried figs (White Turkish variety is the best), chopped coarsely

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a 8×8-inch pan* with parchment paper. Combine the dates with the white grape juice and vanilla in a small blender and let soak for 10 minutes to soften. Blend until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl, and add the chia seeds. Mix well to avoid chia clumps, and set aside for 10 minutes to allow the chia to thicken.

Meanwhile, melt the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the quinoa flakes, pistachios and walnuts. Cook, stirring frequently for 3-4 minutes until the quinoa and nuts are fragrant. Add the sea salt and cinnamon and cook for 30 seconds more, then remove from heat and transfer contents to a large bowl. Mix in the chopped figs, and add the saturated chia mixture. Stir well to distribute the ingredients and form a chunky dough.

Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan, and press down firmly into a flat layer. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool before cutting into 16 2×2-inch squares. When wrapped, energy bars will keep up to a week.

*If you don’t have a pan this size, line a baking/cookie sheet with parchment instead, and simply hand-form the bar “dough” into an 8×8 inch flat square.

Julie Morris is a Los Angeles-based natural food chef and author of Superfood Cuisine: Cooking with Nature’s Most Amazing Foods. An active advocate of whole, plant-based foods and superfoods for optimal health, her recipes and nutrition tips are dedicated to making a vibrantly healthy lifestyle both easy to achieve, and simply delicious to follow. Learn more at JulieMorris.net.

Stay in touch with Julie on Twitter @greenjules

image: Julie Morris