It’s Monday and my back is cramping in two very precise spots in the middle of my back, my shoulders are slightly sunburnt, my feet are weary from walking and a blister on the side of my foot that has been rubbing against my work shoes all morning is threatening to burst in an ugly way.
It’s been a fantastic weekend.
First, there was the QUEEN (!!!) bed that landed in my life for free (and by landed, I mean: was wrestled from my friend’s house into a truck just inches too small and coerced into the corner of my room by virtue of an ew amount of sweat and bad words). I’m saying goodbye to the twin bed I’ve slept on for the past five years and it feels oh so luxurious.
Then an amazing vegan Tex-Mex meal where Erik hogged the raw taco stuffed with sprouts, cabbage and mushrooms (we hate mushrooms) and I just watched in amazement (for the two seconds I wasn’t busy shoving spinach and corn tamales in my face).
Then a run to our favorite Mexican bakery where we accidentally left with an overflowing sack of way too many sugar-encrusted pastries for any reasonable couple of people.
Then to the beach where sun, sea and sand culminated in raw pink shoulders, white cheddar popcorn overindulgence and a lazy afternoon nap before finally putting to use long-anticipated tickets to Houston’s greatest summer concert.
Psychedelic dance parties/light shows two nights in a row = no grocery shopping or serious cooking for me. My fridge is at its all-time emptiest, which made me so grateful for my stash of these no-bake granola bars made earlier in the week with the other half of date paste that hadn’t gone into these muffins.
These granola bars have no refined or added sugar—just the pure, earthy goodness of dates. At their most basic, they’re essentially five ingredients–perfect for all you bare-fridge bloggers (i.e. none of you…) AND they taste kind of like brownies. Really grain-chewy, slightly fruity brownies. In the fridge, they condense into fudgy bars that rival my other favorite energy bars and you know that means business.
Boyfriend rating: 7/10
Erik’s comments: “These are perfect with apples. I can’t believe there’s no sugar in these! Make these again!!”
These soft and chewy no-bake granola bars get their sweetness entirely from dates and a chocolate kick from antioxidant-rich cacao powder. They're great for a quick, fudgy on-the-go energy boost!
- ¾ cup dates
- ½ cup water
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup rolled oats
- ½ cup steel-cut oats*
- 1 tablespoon nut butter (I used almond)
- 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
- ¼ cup add-ins: chocolate chips, sliced or slivered almonds, dried fruit, etc.
To make the date paste:
Add the dates and water to a small saucepan over high heat, uncovered. Once the water begins to boil, add the baking powder and stir, lowering the heat to medium or medium-high, so that the date mixture continues to foam and bubble. Continue to simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until date mixture is completely broken down into an approximate paste. Remove from heat and let cool.
To assemble the granola bars:
Toss together the oats, cacao powder and add-ins of your choice (I added 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons of toasted, slivered almonds). Stir in cooled date paste and nut butter until the wet ingredients are evenly distributed.
Press oat mixture into a greased baking pan or, if you're lazy, rip off a large square of plastic wrap. If you press the oat mixture into a rough rectangle and then cover in plastic wrap, you can use a heavy cutting board to flatten it out into a prettier square.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cutting into bars, for prettiest cuts. But also eat it warm if you're impatient ;)
*You can sub additional rolled oats for these. I had steel-cut on hand; I think they add a bit more gritty texture, but any type of oats should be fine.