It feels like we just blinked and June is here! I'm excited that Summer is just around the corner! Although our weather here has been very unpredictable lately with lots of rain and thunderstorms, I'm still grateful for the changing of the seasons.
Summer is also for vacations and we're trying to get ready for ours. One of the things I think about of course is food...munchies to pack when you go swimming or hiking. So this weekend, I made some energy bars just to get myself into that vacation mode.
Energy bars are really popular these days...they are no longer just sold at the Health Food stores but they are now at your regular supermarkets, drugstores and even at gas stations. Yes, they can be handy for snacks but have you ever tried reading their ingredients? They can be loaded with high amounts of processed sugars and preservatives. Sometimes, it's even hard to figure out what's in them as the fonts in some of their packaging are too small to read.
There was a time when I used to shell out $4.99 for a raw and healthy version of these but one day, I made the decision to start making them in my own kitchen. There's nothing like being aware of what you're putting into your own food and saving money at the same time. And the best thing is... there's hardly any processing involved here and it's easy to make. This was originally inspired by a recipe from a Canadian health magazine called Vitality. I tweaked it to my own version and here it is now.
Easy To Make Energy Bars
Ingredients (Preferably Organic):
2 c. almonds
1 c. dehydrated coconut flakes or unsweetened shredded coconuts
1 c. hemp hearts
1/4 c. sprouted chia powder (I used this brand) or chia seeds
1/4 c. unhulled sesame seeds
1/2 c. goji berries
1/2 c. melted coconut oil
4 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1/3 c. filtered water (for soaking the dates)
1 c. protein powder (optional, see notes)
1/2 tsp. vanilla powder (omit if using a vanilla flavoured protein powder)
1. Soak the dates for 15 minutes and reserve the water.
2. While the dates are soaking, grind the almonds in a food processor or in a blender until they turn into a coarse meal. Transfer into a pan or container where you plan to store the bars (I used an 8" x 8" Pyrex glass dish). Combine the other dry ingredients.
3. If you are using coconut flakes, lightly pulse them as well until they resemble the size of shredded coconuts then add them to the mixture.
4.. Blend the dates and the water until smooth.
5. Add the date paste and the melted coconut oil into the dry ingredients. Mix well then spread evenly into the pan. Press firmly to about 3/4" thick.
6. Let it set in the freezer for 1 hour then cut them up into bars (the size is all up to you). I cut mine at 1 1/2" x 3" and this recipe yielded about 16 bars. They can be stored in the fridge for about 5 days and in the freezer for later use. I actually enjoy the semi-frozen state of this bar better so maybe try that as well. Enjoy!
1. You can pretty much be creative with your own additions to this recipe. For those who love maca, lucuma, spirulina or mesquite powder - feel free to experiment (I don't react very well to some of these ingredients). Other nuts and seeds are fine as well.
2. You can definitely increase the dates to 5. I brought some to my workplace and my co-workers thought that the sweetness was perfect.
3. I use Sun Warrior Vanilla Brown Rice Protein Powder. Hemp protein powder is also a good option although I haven't tried it yet (check this brand) . If you decide to omit the protein powder, the taste will still be fine. I don't always include it.
At The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I learned that there are two types of foods: "Primary Foods" and "Secondary Foods." (check this article). Primary foods in detail are: spirituality, healthy relationships, regular physical activity and a fulfilling career. If all of these things are in working order and are balanced, the food we eat becomes secondary.
For me, my spiritual beliefs are the driving force in my life. I have not always had great relationships...it takes so much effort to love someone who has hurt me. This continues to be a journey in my life. With the help of the Scriptures, my husband and my close friends, I am being transformed slowly but surely.
I was recently inspired by these colourful hats at a store in downtown Toronto. It makes me feel excited about the coming of Summer. What are your plans for the Summer? I wish you great times and memories with your loved ones!