Creating something like this makes me feel like I’m somehow getting one over on the big food companies, by making something better and cheaper than the mass produced and packaged alternatives. This feeling (and my very tight monthly budget!) is what gets me bubbling up huge batches of my own organic baked beans, or setting the bread maker 2-3 times a week. I think we are all capable of making something better, with high quality ingredients at a fraction of the cost (if indeed we have the luxury of a little time.) These snack bars have been evolving out of my kitchen over the recent years and I finally think I’ve got them just right.
These are my alternative to expensive, organic, sugar laden snack bars. When the children were very tiny, I’d make something similar but grind the seeds up in a coffee grinder to give the bars a smoother texture, safer for gummy, dribbly little eaters. Now they’re both big with fine sets of teeth, I leave the bars nicely textured… It’s slightly simpler and I prefer it that way.
This was originally inspired by a HFW recipe, although it’s been completely veganised (if you choose to replace the honey) and played around with so much over the years, I’m really not sure it’s very close to the original recipe at all… which I don’t even have for reference anymore. So I have called these our Power Snack Bars, they are full of good things, good fats, good proteins, natural sugars, and complex carbs… all the nutritional buzz words that would normally be emblazoned across the brightly coloured health food snack products in your local whole food shop.
These bars are a great mid morning or mid afternoon snack, a quick breakfast bite, or a lunchbox filler. What they lack in size they make up for in densely packed energy in the form of nuts, dried fruits, seeds, grains, and coconut oil. The oil, banana, dates and nut butter replaces the usual dairy butter and sugar found in the humble everyday flapjack to give these bars a sweet chewy texture. The ground almonds and seeds pack a powerful protein hit, and only a relatively small amount of honey (or vegan alternative) is needed to sweeten and combine the ingredients. The orange and lemon zest help to cut through all the rich ingredients and add a bit of freshness.
Although the ingredients’ list is long, the method is simple, so once you’ve weighed everything out and prepared all the fruit, the rest is a doddle.
Makes 24 small bars
120g of coconut oil (£1.56)
50g of honey / maple syrup / golden syrup… (46p)
120g peanut butter (70p)
100g of chopped dates (86p)
150g of chopped dried fruit – date, figs, raisins, apricots… (£1.55)
100g of mixed seeds – flax, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, hemp… (71p)
50g of ground almonds (80p)
finely grated zest of one lemon and one orange
2 ripe bananas (54p)
200g porridge oats (45p)
Heat the oven to 160 degrees c.
In a large pan over a low heat, melt together the coconut oil, peanut butter and honey. Add the chopped dates and other dried fruit and warm through, encourage the fruit to soften and break up in the liquid a little. Mash the bananas and stir them in, along with the seeds and almonds. Then add the orange and lemon zest. Once this mixture is well combined and warmed through, add the oats and beat them into the wet mixture thoroughly, making sure all the oats are coated in the mixture and that it sticks together when pressed.
Press the mixture into a lined and slightly oiled baking tray. I used a 7″ x 10″ deep sided baking tray, but any tray with a similar area would do. Use a palette knife to press the mixture into the corners and smooth the top over, leaving no gaps.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, after this time the mixture should be springy and soft to touch and be slightly golden on top. Slide the cooked mixture on its lining paper onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely, it will firm up when cool.
Using a large sharp knife, cut the slab into 24 bars. Keep them in a sealed container and they should last for at least a week, probably much longer, but I’m not certain as they have usually all been eaten by then! I have made double batches before and frozen them to keep them convenient.
At these organic supermarket and health food store prices each 35g bar works out at 31p. Not bad. But by taking advantage of wholesale buying, these super nutritious bars could be super cheap too.