I know, I know, another energy bar recipe? Yes, it's true, but it is one that I am so proud to share, I could not wait a moment longer. We go through a lot of power bars/granola bars/ energy bars in this house, and I'm at the point where I no longer want to buy another, especially when homemade ones are profoundly more delicious, nutritious, and cost-effective.
Granola bars and energy bars are a breeze: an amalgamation of whole grain cereals, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, and some "glue" (nut butter, natural syrup such as honey or maple syrup, etc.), a quick press into a cake pan, and you've got tasty bars. Even the flops that don't stick together make delicious trail mix.
But what about a deeply chocolate, brownie-like bar? I had several requirements: (1) must taste like chocolate, not chalk-let; (2) must be all-natural; (3) must have no refined sugar (I am hyper enough as it is); (4) must have a significant amount of protein (i.e., more than the 3 to 5 grams in most homemade bars).
Better still, the bars require no baking, can be enjoyed by meat-eaters, vegans, and raw foodists alike, and, the most important requirement for anything and everything I make and share here at Enlightened Cooking, they are undeniably delicious.
A few notes before you give these a try. If you're new to the world of raw food, the step for soaking the almonds may sound odd and/or unnecessary. But it has a specific function: soaking nuts makes them easier to digest and allows for greater absorption of the nutrients within. Click here to read more. From a cook's perspective (that would be me :)), soaking the nuts makes these bars more "brownie-like"--much like the consistency of raw chocolate cookie dough.
These bear the toddler (Nick), weight-lifting husband (Kevin), and pilates/yoga/running/aerobics-instructor/chef (moi), seal of approval. Enjoy!
All-Natural Chocolate Brownie Power Bars (raw, vegan, no added sugar)
ADDING MORE NATURAL PROTEIN: (1) Soy powder (e.g., Bob's Red Mill All Natural Soy Powder: Add up to 1/2 cup to the recipe. It adds 3.3 extra grams protein per bar, no added fat or carbohydrates; (2) Nonfat dry milk powder: The bars are still vegetarian, but not vegan, with this addition. Add up to 2/3 cup to the recipe. It adds 1.3 extra grams of protein per bar, not to mention added calcium and vitamin D (for a mere 13.3 calories, 0 g fat, and 2 g carbohydrate per bar).
2 cups raw almonds (skins on)
1 pound pitted soft dates (I used 2 8-ounce bags Sunsweet Pitted Dates)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (not Dutch process) OR raw cacao powder (for strictly raw eaters)
1/4 cup raw wheat germ (toasted is fine if you are not strictly raw)
2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds (flaxseed meal)
Place almonds in a medium bowl. Fill bowl with cold water (preferably filtered, but tap is fine) to cover the almonds. Let the almonds soak for 3 to 4 hours. Drain the almonds and pat dry with a clean dish cloth.
Pulse almonds in food processor until finely ground. Add the dates and pulse until finely chopped and the mixture begins to resemble a thick "dough". Add the cocoa powder, wheat germ, and flaxseed meal. Process until blended.
Line an 8×8-inch baking dish with foil (trust me, it makes it so much easier to remove the bars). With wet hands, press the bar mixture into the pan. Place in the freezer for at least an hour. Cut into 12 bars. Wrap each in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator (they need no refrigeration when packed in a lunch or gym bag).
Note: If you are wondering about the weird watermark in the right-hand corner of my nutrition facts image (I used NutritionData.com): in order to convert the image from pdf to jpg to share here on the blog, I used Universal Document Converter, which is great, but leaves the watermark.