Crunchy on the outside but soft in the middle, sweet and nutty, and honestly a terrific snack or breakfast! I’ve been working on finding a healthy and satisfying snack bar. Some bars are either too sweet or not sweet enough, crumble when cut or too mushy. Nutritious and flavorful, this is the perfect bar.
High in protein and calcium, amaranth is a gluten-free grain and an important food source in South America and Mexico. If amaranth is hard to find, sesame seeds or quinoa are a good substitute. Don’t panic about the amount of maple syrup in the recipe, it gets reduced down with the dates, and provides the glue for the bars. It will take some self-control to keep from finishing the whole loaf!
- Non stick vegetable spray (There is a coconut oil spray by PAM 🙂
- 6 large Medjool dates, pitted, chopped
- 1 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil
- 2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup raw almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts or cashews
- 1/2 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 1/2 cup shelled sunflower seeds
- 2 tablespoons amaranth (or 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat an 8 1/2 x4 inches loaf pan with non-stick spray and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on long sides of pan. Spray the parchment too.
Bring dates and maple syrup to a boil in a small saucepan, reduce heat to medium-
high, and boil, stirring often, until dates are very soft and maple syrup is slightly reduced, 8-10 minutes. Remove date mixture from heat and stir in butter or oil until it is melted. Mash dates with a potato masher or fork until it is a smooth as possible. An immersion blender works well too. You’ll have about 1 cup of the mixture.
Toss oats, almonds (or other nuts), pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, amaranth and salt in a large bowl. Mix in date mixture until evenly coated. Scrape half of the oat mixture into a prepared pan and press very firmly and evenly with a rubber spatula to compress it as much as possible, make sure the corners are filled in. Add remaining oat mixture and press until very tightly packed into the pan.
Bake, tenting with foil if browning too quickly, until the loaf is darkened in color and firm around the edges, and the center gives slightly when pressed, 45-50 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the loaf cool in the pan before turning it out to finish cooling. Cut into 1/2 inch thick slices with a serrated knife.
For crispier bars, lay the slices on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for another 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. You could toast them in a toaster oven as well. Well wrapped at room temperature, the loaf is good for 5 days.
Source: Bon Appetit