With pumpkin spice flavored everything in autumn, it’s easy to forget about fall’s other delicious flavor: apple. Consider these apple bars your new autumn flavor obsession. Sweetened naturally with medjool dates and filled with whole food ingredients, these apple bars are not only gluten-free but vegan as well.
The Health Benefits of Cinnamon
The health benefits of cinnamon are abundant. Seriously – sprinkle it on everything.
According to the ORAC scale (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), used to measure antioxidant levels in different foods, cinnamon ranks number seven out of all known foods, spices, or herbs.
What’s more, in a study comparing the antioxidant activity of 26 spices, cinnamon was deemed the clear winner and beat out other powerful antioxidant-packed herbs and spices including garlic, rosemary, and oregano.
Cinnamon has been associated with lowering (bad) LDL cholesterol, improving insulin levels, and balancing blood sugar levels in those with type-2 diabetes, as well as preventing heart and vascular disease.
Cinnamon is also thought to promote anti-cancer activity, anti-microbial and anti-bacterial activity, and protect against neurological disorders.
The Health Benefits of Apples
An apple a day can, quite literally, keep the doctor away. Or at least, happy with your state of health. Along with a healthy dose of digestive friendly fiber, apples are a good source of vitamins C and K, potassium, manganese, copper, and some B vitamins.
Apple’s impressive nutrient content makes the fruits heart healthy, too. Numerous studies have shown that apple’s fiber, antioxidant, and vitamin levels are linked to lower risks of heart disease.
One particular study compared the effects of eating an apple daily to taking statins,widely prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs. The study determined that apples would be almost as effective at reducing death from heart disease as statins.
Apples are a rich source of prebiotics, thanks to pectin, a type of fiber that’s food for your friendly gut-bacteria. Consumption of these prebiotic-rich fruits is linked with lower instances of cancer, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and cognitive issues.
Although these fruits are beyond awesome, apples always have a top spot on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen. Even more, some apples have been genetically modified and approved for production in the United States. To ensure that you’re purchasing the best tasting and healthiest apples around, always choose organic.
Head to your local organic orchard, farmers market, or grocery store to stock up on organic apples this autumn and get baking! You should probably start with these apple bars filled with dates, nuts, and warming spices. Whatever, pumpkin spice! Apple spice is our newest obsession.
Date, Nut, and Apple Bars Recipe
- 2 small crisp organic apples (such as honey crisp or fuji)
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 heaping cup walnuts
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ½ cup almonds
- 1 heaping cup medjool dates, pitted
- ¼ tsp ginger
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- Dash of nutmeg
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Pit dates and add to a small jar or bowl. Pour warm water overtop to soften up dates and allow to sit for ten minutes. Drain and discard water before use.
- Chop apples into large diced pieces and spread evenly on a baking tray. Toss with coconut oil and cinnamon. Bake in the oven 15-18 minutes, or until soft and fragrant. Remove from oven and set aside.
- In a high-speed blender or food processor combine walnuts, oats, almonds, sea salt, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pulse a few times until mixture becomes broken down with large pieces throughout. Don’t over process this mixture!
- Add in roasted apples and soaked and drained dates. Pulse until mixture becomes thick and sticky, allowing the mixture to have large pieces for texture.
- Spoon mixture into a parchment paper lined 8x8-baking tray. Spread and press apple bar mixture into the bottom evenly.
- Place in the freezer to set, about 45-60 minutes, depending on thickness of the bars. Remove from freezer and use a wet knife to slice into equal sized squares or bars. Wrap each bar individually in parchment paper (so they don’t stick together) and store in the refrigerator or freezer.
- In the refrigerator, bars will keep three to four days. In the freezer, apple bars will keep up to a month. Enjoy!
Photos by Kate Gavlick