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Friday, 8 April 2016

Chocolate Energy Bars [sugar-free, dairy and gluten free, vegan!]

I know what you're thinking..."what?! How can these be sugar-free (as well as all those other things)??" Well my friends, they're not too good to be true, and these are in fact all the stated above. That's because these bars gets their sugary-ness from the fresh dates which make up the bulk of these bars. Along with flaked almonds so they're gluten free and good quality cocoa powder to make them chocolate - obviously! 



They're called energy bars because they make an awesome snack, perfect to last you all week as a pick me-up treat between meals that won't leave you feeling guilty. They'll actually leave you feeling fuller for longer and thanks to all the added extras there's a wealth of benefits too! 



Last year, reported by the Daily Telegraph, "A handful of nuts can save your life" after a Dutch study found a link between daily nut consumption and a reduced chance of dying from a number of chronic diseases, including cancer and heart disease. These chocolate energy bars will supply you with your daily fix of nuts - being rich in walnuts and pistachios.

And it doesn't just stop there...the health benefits of dates are reported to promote good digestive health due to containing fibre, boost heart health, are rich in magnesium – a mineral known for its anti-inflammatory benefits, reducing stroke risk & blood pressure, and finally boost brain health (so I'll be getting lots of these stashed away with all my exam revision coming up!)

This recipe is taken and ever so slightly adapted from 'Sugar Free: Over 60 Recipes with No Added Sugar' by Sue Quinn, published this year. I was bought this book for my birthday and I am loving it! The handy book is an excellent starting point if your looking to reduce (or even eliminate) added sugar in your diet. The recipes are innovative and most happen to be vegan too, there's a whole host of recipes ranging from breakfasts to desserts as well as simple basics such as ketchup. What I love is that unlike many other sugar-free books which actually call for honey, agave or other sugar syrups, this book doesn't and are all natural! The book is an eye opener too with it's stylish design/photography making for an enticing approach to sugar free food. 


Chocolate  Energy  Bars  [ sugar-free,  dairy  and  gluten free,  vegan ] 


Ingredients:

Makes 20 bars

400g pitted fresh dates
60ml melted coconut oil
2 tsps vanilla extract (unsweetened)
40g good quality cocoa powder (unsweetened and check labels if gluten-free - if needed)
125g ground almonds
1 heaped tbsp golden flaxseeds
40g pistachios, roughly chopped
40g walnuts, roughly chopped
50g dried berries - I used a mix of cranberries, golden raisins, inca berries, cherries & blueberries
50g sunflower seeds
2 tbsp desiccated coconut


Method


Blitz the dates in a food processor to a paste, add the melted coconut oil, vanilla and cocoa, then blitz again until a smooth mix. Tip the paste into a bowl and add in the ground almonds and mix with clean hands or a wooden spoon. Add the remaining ingredients apart from the dessicated coconut and mix together until evenly dispersed. 

Line a 20cm square cake tin and line the base and sides with foil. Tip the mixture into the lined tin and press down firmly with your hands or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with the coconut and lightly press in. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours or until set. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container in the fridge. 
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