Monday, March 27, 2017

Chewy Granola Bars

Israel is an amazing place. This country, that is about the size of the state of New Jersey, is packed with the some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world. The north is filled with lush forests, flowing streams, and breathtaking waterfalls. The south is a stunning dessert filled with canyons and dunes made up of a rainbow of color. The amazing thing is that this country is so small that you can go skiing on Mt. Hermon all the way in the north in the morning and then go snorkeling at the opposite tip in Eilat in the evening. Israel is filled with such beauty and it is such a privilege to live here.

To quote Dr. Seuss, "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose." I'm going to add one more thing to that list of essentials when you're choosing your direction of adventure, good snacks in your bag. Occasionally I get to get out of the kitchen and hike through this beautiful place and I always make sure to have a fully stocked backpack of substantial treats to keep me going.
Chewy granola bars are exactly what I need when I get to the peak of the mountain. Soft and chewy, a little crunchy, sweet with a touch of salt it's the perfect bite to reward yourself while enjoying the view.

All of the ingredients are available at Seasons!

Chewy Granola Bars 

1 1/4 cups dates, pitted
1 cup almonds or any other nut, roughly chopped
1 1/4 cups rolled or instant oats
1/4 cup tahini, or any nut butter
3 Tbs silan/honey/agave nectar/maple syrup
1/4 cup craisins or other dried fruit, chopped
1/4 cup chocolate chips or chocolate bar, chopped
3 Tbs ground flax seed
3 Tbs wheat germ
1 tsp coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C
Place the dates in a bowl of hot water and let the dates soften for 5 minutes, drain well.
Toast the almonds and oats on a sheet pan for about 10 minutes until golden. Pour the toasted nuts and oats into a mixing bowl.
Place the softened dates in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with an S blade, puree the dates, add to the cooled toasted nuts and oats.
Combine the tahini and silan in a small pot over medium-low heat, stir until the mixture loosens and is warmed through. This can also be done at 10-second intervals in the microwave.
Add the tahini silan mixture to the mixing bowl. Add the craisins, chocolate, flax seed, and wheat germ. Wet your hands and press the ingredients to combine.
Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray. Firmly press the mixture into the pan in an even layer. Sprinkle with sea salt.
Place the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes to set.
Remove the chilled mixture from the freezer and flip out onto a cutting board. Peel off the parchment paper, and cut into bars. Wrap the bars individually in wax paper or saran wrap. Keep the granola bars in an airtight container in the the fridge for about 2 weeks or in the freezer for 3 months.

These are obviously best during a long day in nature, but they're just as delicious sitting at your desk or while commuting home from work.

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