Thursday, February 22, 2018

Cashew Cookie Granola Bars (grain free, dairy free & sugar free)

One of my biggest concerns when I reduced my intake of grains and sugar was snacks. I adore snacking! I used to keep a granola bar everywhere - in all of my purses, in my schoolbag, in my skate bag... I had them everywhere just in case I was ever stuck and hungry. Well, that no longer works for me; I can't just grab a granola bar. I did a bit of research and found granola bars called 'Larabars' and was excited to learn that they work with what I can eat right now and they are so easy to make!

I found this recipe on a blog called Fit Foodie Finds. You can find it HERE. The best part of this recipe is there are only 3 ingredients! All you need are dates, cashews and sea salt! Let's get started...

Start by pitting 30 Medjool dates. Add the dates to the food process and process until the dates form a paste. My food processor had a tough time with all of these dates. In the future, I might make smaller batches at a time.

When the dates form a paste, add in 1 1/2 cups of cashews. I used unsalted cashews and added in my own salt. Pulse the food processor until the cashews are coarsely chopped. You will likely have to scrape down the sides of the food processor to make sure all of the cashews and dates are being processed.
Once the dates and cashews form a workable dough like ball, remove the mixture from the food processor and transfer it to a work surface lined with waxed paper.
The dough is pretty sticky, so I lined both sides with waxed paper and rolled it out using a rolling pin. I rolled the dough out to be about a 1/4 of an inch thick. Then I started to re-shape it to be more rectangular. At first, I used a butter knife to trim the edges into a rectangular. I piled the scraps in the middle of the dough and rolled out again.
After that, the dough held its shape pretty well. I recommend shaping the edges as best as you can before cutting it so that you can evenly cut out the granola bars.

When I had a pretty even rectangle I used a butter knife to cut the dough into 16 granola bars. Depending on the size of the bar, you could really cut these into any number of bars you need. I sprinkled a little pink Himalayan sea salt over the bars just to add a little contrast to the sweetness of the dates. But you eliminate the salt if you prefer.

After cutting out the bars, I wrapped each bar in saran wrap then stacked them all in a ziplock bag to store in the fridge. These easily last in the fridge for the whole week. If you need them to last a little longer, I recommend sticking them in the freezer.

yield: 16 bars

30 Medjool Dates, pitted
1 1/2 cups cashews
sea salt

1. Pit the dates and add them to the bowl of a food processor. Process the dates until they form a paste. You might need to break up the dates into smaller groups.
2. When the dates are well processed, add in the cashews and pulse the cashes into the dates. You will likely need to pause and scrape down the sides of the food processor to make sure all of the cashews are being processed. The cashews should be coarsely chopped and well incorporated into the dates.
3. When the mixture holds together and is dough-like, remove it from the food processor and transfer it to a surface lined with waxed paper.
4. Line both sides of the dough with waxed paper and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to be about 1/4 of an inch think. 
5. Even out the sides as best as you can so that the dough is rectangular - it is hard at first but the more time you spend re-shaping the dough the better it gets.
6. Cut the dough into 16 equal bars then wrap each of the bars in saran wrap and store them in the fridge.

I was a little ambivalent about trying these. How could you compete with a traditional granola bar? But these are actually really good! I'm looking forward to experimenting with this recipe and trying other variations of it!

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