Second attempt in the quest of the perfect energy bar. I have to say that I really like the touch of cacao and of orange essence that these bars have.
We are back into the game with some paleo friendly, gluten free, vegan and packed with totally natural ingredients bars.
No cooking needed and yummy!
First of all, it is very important to have a good quality blender. Make sure that it is potent enough to not be broken mixing nuts (the paste that you are obtaining is a very hard and sticky one!).
Place dates and almonds in the blender or food processor and blintz until well combined.
Add cocoa, shredded coconut, wild orange essence, salt and protein powder (optional). Blend again until well combine but not smooth.
If the paste is very hard and you can't process it well, add a squirt of your favorite milk or water, and keep on blending. Be careful that you are not getting a liquid paste, the dough should be hard and sticky.
Line the base of a tray or a kitchen board with baking-paper and tip in the mixture. Cover the mixture with another foil of paper and, with the help of a rolling pin, another tray or a plate, squash the mixture. You want to get a regular, even surface, of approximately 1 cm thick. It doesn't need to be perfectly even, I like it to look like a handmade bar, with different sizes and thickness.
Finally, you can chill the dough before cutting it or directly divide it into 9 large bars or 18 small square, as desired. Wrap and chill for at least an hour (or overnight if possible).
As I am a chocolate addict (well, not all kinds of chocolate! I really enjoy a good quality one, with a high percentage of cocoa on it, not a sweet with chocolate flavor!), I needed to try to create a healthy bar, just like my first ones, but with a cocoa touch.
For that, I based myself in one of my favorites bars ever, Cocoa Orange bar, by Nakd. I thought, "If these bars are sooo good with an orange touch, why mines should not?". And using a wild orange essential oil that I had at home (make sure that your essential oil can be eaten), I got down to work!
Unlike Nakd bar that I used as an inspiration, mine doesn't contain raisins, just dates, and I added almonds instead of cashew nuts. In addition, I added shredded coconut (which I love and thought would go well) and unflavored protein powder (you can do the same bars without any protein, is up to you!), to make them somewhat more nutritious and complete (the idea is to take them to work or the gym, and have them as a healthy snack or a breakfast on the go).
I am delighted with their flavor. The orange touch is amazing and matches perfectly cocoa's bitterness. However, the texture is somewhat doughy and sticky. Perhaps next time I should add more nuts (like cashews) or more coconut.
It is also true that my kitchen equipment is not professional, therefore, I will never achieve an homogeneous or perfect texture. Anyways, I guess as the recipe is perfected by testing different ingredients and quantities, things will change.
In short, these bars are a success of taste and boldness. And they totally achieve what I was looking for: they are very satiating, delicious and nutritionally complete.
Per bar, they provide:
12 g of fats
15 g of carbohydrates, of which sugars 9g
4 g of fiber
7 g of protein
The best part: they are totally natural, gluten free, paleo, vegan (if not using Whey protein), dairy free and raw. A very interesting option to eat something healthy on the go.
You can keep them in the fridge for several weeks or in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can eat them directly from the fridge or freezer, but they'll be chewy. If you prefer them to be more soft and paste-like, eat them at room-temperature. They are fine in a lunchbox or backpack all day.
Now, let's clarify something. Despite the fact that these bars are based on real food, we shouldn't abuse eating them in large amounts. They provide sugars and are a dense source of calories. Therefore, if your diet is already high in sugars, you are trying to loose weight, or you need to control carbohydrates, do not overeat them. You can eat one bar from time to time, that's alright, they are healthy and natural, but they can't become the basis of your diet or one of your frequent meals.
If you are an athlete or have a very active lifestyle, things change. You can carry these bars in your walking routes or cycling tours, for example. They are a good source of immediate energy to take advantage of on your long days. They work also very well as a recovery snack after training or through the day when on a hurry. Definitely, they are much better that any commercial protein bar or gel, loaded with loads of chemical and additives!