With autumn comes pumpkin-flavored... well... everything. And so it's easy to forget about fall’s other delicious flavor! Consider these apple bars your new autumn 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 Cinnamon in These Apple Bars Have Serious Health Benefits
The health benefits of cinnamon are abundant. Seriously – sprinkle it on everything.
According to the ORAC scale (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), which is 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 beat out other powerful antioxidant-packed herbs and spices including garlic, rosemary, and oregano. In fact, cinnamon emerged as the clear first-place winner!
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. In other words, go to town on this sweet spice – its wild health benefits and phenomenal flavor go hand-in-hand.
Apple's Health Benefits Are Still the Bomb (Your Mom was Right)
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 gut-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 also rich source of prebiotics thanks to their richness in 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, meaning conventional apples can be riddled with pesticide residues. And some apples have been genetically modified and approved for production in the United States. All the more reason to always opt for organic when choosing this super fruit.
- Cook Time
- Prep Time
- 12 barsServings
- 2 small crisp organic apples such as honey crisp or fuji
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup heaping walnuts
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ½ cup almonds
- 1 cup heaping medjool dates pitted
- ¼ tsp ginger
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- Dash of nutmeg
- ¼ tsp sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pit the dates and add to a small jar or bowl. Pour warm water overtop to soften the dates, and allow to sit for ten minutes. Drain and discard water before use.
Large dice the apples, 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 the oven and set aside.
In a high-speed blender or food processor, combine the walnuts, oats, almonds, sea salt, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pulse a few times until the mixture becomes broken down with large pieces throughout. Don’t over process this mixture!
Add the roasted apples and soaked and drained dates. Pulse until the mixture becomes thick and sticky, leaving large pieces for texture.
Spoon the mixture into a parchment paper lined 8x8-baking pan, like this one from Made In. Made In sources its bakeware from French craftsmen who have been making it for generations. The hand-painted dish is durable enough to bake in but pretty enough to serve from!
Spread and press the apple bar mixture into the bottom evenly, and place in the freezer to set for about 45-60 minutes, depending on thickness of the bars.
Remove from the 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!
*Note! The time in freezer to set has been included in the total cook time under "Time and Servings."
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