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Julie Van Rosendaal's recipes - February 18

Easy (Grain-free!) Date-Nut Energy Bars

1 1/2 cups pitted Medjool dates (about 15 dates)
1 1/2 cups toasted whole almonds and pecan halves (any ratio - or try toasted hazelnuts or cashews)
pinch salt

optional add-ins:
1/3 cup shredded coconut and a bit of grated lime zest and the juice of half a lime
2 Tbsp. cocoa, 1 Tbsp. honey and 1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cherries or blueberries and a drop of vanilla

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the dates, nuts and salt until well blended and coarsely ground - you should be able to squeeze it together in a clump. If you like, pulse or stir in any add-ins.

Press into a parchment-lined 8×8-inch baking pan and let sit at room temperature or refrigerate until easier to cut into bars. (Alternatively, roll the mixture into small bite-sized balls.) Leave in the pan or wrap individually to store. Makes about 12 bars.

Chewy Granola Bars

These thick granola bars can be customized with any kind of nuts, seeds and dried fruit your kids like, in any proportion. If you don't have oat flour, make some by processing oats in a food processor until  powdery, or try substituting brown rice or quinoa flour.

1 3/4 cups quick rolled oats, barley flakes, or a combination
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup oat or barley flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups chopped dried fruit, nuts and seeds
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup peanut butter, golden pea butter, or almond butter
1/3 cup liquid honey, maple syrup or Roger's Golden Syrup
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray an 8″x8″ pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, stir together the oats, brown sugar, oat flour, salt and cinnamon. Stir in the dried fruit, nuts and seeds.

In a small bowl, whisk together the canola oil, nut butter, honey and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until well blended and crumbly. Press into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden around the edges. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into bars. Makes 12 thick bars.

Homemade Eatmore Bars
These dense, chewy bars taste a lot like Eatmore chocolate bars, with nutritional benefits! The oats and dried fruit make them an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and fiber, while the peanuts and peanut butter contribute protein - important for kids (and grown ups) on the go. Cut them into bars and wrap individually in plastic wrap to pack for a hike or other outing.

3 cups Rice Krispies or Special K
1 cup oats
1 cup chopped dried fruit (such as raisins, apricots & cranberries)
½ cup chopped peanuts
¾ cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup honey
½ cup cocoa

½ cup peanut butter
Spray the inside of a large bowl and toss together the cereal, oats, dried fruit and peanuts.

In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, peanut butter and honey over medium heat. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in cocoa.

Pour the chocolate mixture over the cereal mixture, and stir until evenly coated. Press into a 9"x13" pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Cool in the fridge or at room temperature before cutting into bars.

Makes 18 bars.

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