After my long blogging absence while I revised for my exams, I am on a mission to post some more healthy baking recipes! I consider myself a healthy person with a healthy diet, the only things that ever tarnishes my good eating is baking, and this can be changed!
There are almost no healthy cereal bars available at supermarkets. There are some cereal bars that are clearly not healthy, such as Tracker Bars which are packed full of caramel and chocolate, these should really be classed as a chocolate bar! Although some bars like Alpen Light can only claim to contain fewer calories because they’re tiny – how naughty. Some brands may market themselves as “healthy”, such as Go Ahead!, but actually contain lots of extrinsic sugars – don’t even get me started on the sugar content of Nutri-grains…
I think the term “healthy” means different things to different people, some people simply look at calorie content, some look at fat content, some look at sugar. To me, healthy means free from extrinsic sugar (as much as reasonably possible) and processed fat and a rounded nutritional content. Some may argue that isn’t healthy, but that’s simply my opinion!
“Healthy” baking can be really expensive, as recipes often call for ingredients you can’t usually buy at your local supermarket. Ingredients such as agave syrup, raw cacao powder and coconut butter are more frequently found at health-shops such as Holland and Barrett. The only supermarket I’ve seen to provide a decent selection of healthy baking substitutes is Waitrose – not exactly always wallet-friendly! However, there are still some healthy ingredients you can easily buy at supermarkets, such as the ingredients I use in this recipe.
I find that, in general, there aren’t many healthy pick-up-and-go snacks. My solution? Make some! It’s hard for me to classify this recipe into a specific category, they are a sort-of tray-bake, brownie, cake, cereal-bar hybrid with gluten-free, vegan and no-bake options… I feel like this recipe is truly for everyone (apart from those allergic to nuts – soz!)
Makes: 8 Bars
2 Mixing bowls
Baking tin/Food storage box (size doesn’t really matter)
Baking paper/Greaseproof paper
Freezer and fridge
250g Stoned/pitted dates
115g Oats (gluten-free oats for those with allergies)
40g Flaked almonds
40g Cocoa Powder or Raw Cacao Powder
45g Almond Butter or Peanut Butter (crunchy or smooth) but be careful with peanut butter, some brands contain added sugars that aren’t necessary, I always buy the Whole Earth brand, it may be pricier but it’s miles healthier!
45g Honey or Maple Syrup (for the vegan option)
- Soak the dates in warm water and set them aside for 15 minutes
- Sprinkle the oats and flaked almonds on a baking tray and roast in the oven at 180 degrees for 15 minutes (optional step)
- Crush the walnuts in a bowl using the end of a rolling pin, the bottom of a sturdy glass or a spoon
- Drain the dates and mash in a large mixing bowl using a wooden spoon, alternatively use a food processor or blender if you have one, until they form a smooth-ish paste
- Add the walnuts and (toasted) oats and almonds, stir the mix together; the mixture will be very stiff, the best way to incorporate everything is to press them together with the back of a spoon
- Slowly melt the honey/maple syrup and peanut butter/almond butter together in a small saucepan until pourable
- Poor the contents of the saucepan into the large mixing bowl and mix everything together
- Tip the mixture into a lined baking tin or food-storage box. Because of the consistency of the mixture you can spread it as much as you want to achieve the desired thickness, mine are about 15mm thick
- Place in the freezer for 15 minutes until firmer, cut into 8 slices (or as many as you like)
- Cut the waste baking paper/greaseproof paper into strips and wrap around the bars; this neat little trick prevents them sticking together in the box when you store them and stops your fingers getting sticky when you eat them!
- Store in the fridge to stop them being too sticky
Although I’ve used walnuts and almonds in my cereal bars, you can pick whichever nuts you like! However, if you believe high-fat content is unhealthy, stay clear of nuts such as macadamias and pecans.
You can get all this “healthiness” for only £2.70 if you shop at Morrisons like I do. And this is a bargain compared to the cereal bars you can get from health shops which often sell for around £1 each! Finally a guilt-free snack that (almost) everyone can eat!