Make a batch of these bars over the weekend and have them on hand for the rest of the week. They make a lovely breakfast-on-the-go, and the combination of oats, almonds, oat bran, coconut flour, flax seed, hemp seed and amaranth means that these little bars are not only filling, they are packed full of healthy protein that will power you right on through ’til lunch. They are only slightly sweetened by the dates, banana and modest amount of maple syrup, making them particularly appropriate for morning time, but if you prefer sweeter baked goods, there is a recipe below for a nice icing you can drizzle over top. These also make an excellent mid-afternoon snack.
This recipe is a great way to use the almond pulp you have left over after you make your own almond milk, as the milk recipe should yield just the right amount of almond pulp for these bars. But if you haven’t made your own milk recently, you can substitute regular almond meal or almond flour in place of the pulp.
- 10 pitted dates, soaked to soften
- 1 overripe banana
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 T. flax seed (ground)
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- 2/3 cup almond pulp (or almond flour)
- 2½ cups rolled oats
- ¼ cup oat bran
- ¼ cup coconut flour
- ¼ cup hemp seeds
- ¼ cup amaranth
- ¾ cup dried blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 13×9-inch pan with coconut oil.
In a food processor, blend the soaked dates and the overripe banana until you have a smooth puree. Transfer to a large bowl and add the applesauce, vanilla extract, melted coconut oil and maple syrup.
Grind the flax seed (I always grind my flax seed fresh in a Magic Bullet blender – see nutrition section below – but you can also use pre-ground “flax seed meal”) and stir it into the wet ingredients, along with the cinnamon and salt. Stir in the almond pulp. Next, add in the rolled oats, oat bran, coconut flour, hemp seeds and amaranth, and mix thoroughly. Finally, fold in the dried blueberries. You will have a thick, dough-like batter.
Press the batter evenly into the prepared pan. The more evenly you spread the batter, the more evenly it will bake. Slide the pan into the preheated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick pressed into the center of the cake comes out clean. The edges will be slightly browned.
For those among us with a sweet tooth, it’s very easy to whip up a batch of icing to drizzle over the top of these bars. Another option, of course, is to swap out the blueberries for chocolate chips, if that idea sounds tempting to you 🙂
What’s healthy about this recipe?
Oats are high in fiber and thus offer many health benefits that include lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure, evening blood sugar levels and promoting healthy bowel function. Plus, a half cup of oats (measured dry) contains 13 grams of protein!
Flax seed must be ground in order for its benefits to be accessible. When consumed whole, the seeds tend to pass through the intestines undigested. But ground flax seed (“flax seed meal”) offers heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber and of course many vitamins and minerals. It’s always best to grind your flax seeds fresh each time you need them rather than buying flax seed meal at the store, as once ground, the nutritional value of the seeds diminishes over time (a process that can be slowed, incidentally, by storing ground seeds in the refrigerator).
Amaranth is a “pseudograin,” a seed that is used like a grain, but it is gluten-free, which is an added benefit for those with gluten sensitivity. It is a good source of protein (9 g per cup) and provides a good amount of calcium (12% DV) and iron (29% DV per cup).
Oat bran is the outer husk of the oat grain and its highly nutritious. It is an excellent source of dietary fiber, as well as protein (a half cup contains 8g of protein) and a bunch of vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, folate and pantothenic acid) and minerals (iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium, all in significant quantities).
Hemp seed is 65% protein by weight, making it one of the best plant sources of protein available, and it’s especially good because that protein comes in the form of globulin edestin, which is easily digested. It also contains the essential fatty acids (EFAs) in a ratio that is suitable for human nutritional needs. It is a good source of fiber, as well as magnesium, iron and zinc. It’s also gluten-free, and there are no known allergies to hemp seeds.
Blueberries are a good source of Vitamin C and K, but they are famous for being a “superfood,” full of phytonutrients that act as antioxidants, reducing the effects of oxidative stress on the whole body (anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular and circulatory benefits, muscle repair, and reportedly even memory boosting benefits).