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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Peanut Butter Energy Bars

When I made these high-energy bars for a group of volunteers last night, never did I dream they would become a “favorite”!
Peanut Butter Energy Bars: A big hit!
Packed with nutrition, these bars refrigerate and freeze well. With the ingredients already in my kitchen cupboard, I didn’t consider this expensive to make. Logical? Maybe. With energy bars selling for as much as $3 apiece, these homemade bars are a bargain! To make a gourmet bar, substitute macadamia nuts and white chocolate in place of the almonds and semi-sweet chocolate I used. This excellent recipe requires a food processor. 

Peanut Butter Energy Bars:

2 c. packed dates, pitted (see Note)
1/2 c. natural whole almonds, skin on
3 c. large-flake uncooked rolled oats
1/2 c. liquid honey
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F.  Line 10 in. x15 in. jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Set aside. 
Soften dates by pour boiling water over them for 10 min. Squeeze dry. Process dates on high speed until they form a ball and only small bits remain. Place in medium bowl. Do not wash food processor.
Spread almonds over cookie sheet, stirring once or twice as nuts toast 15-to-20 min. (see Additional Note). Add almonds to processor, chopping in bursts using pulse setting. Add to dates in bowl.
Spread oats over cookie sheet, stirring once or twice as oats toast 15-to-20 min. Add oats to dates and nuts in bowl. Combine thoroughly, using clean hands. Set aside. 
In microwave-safe container, stir together honey and peanut butter on medium-low heat, just until warm. Pour over date-nut-oatmeal mixture, combining well.
Press well-combined mixture into prepared pan, covering with cello wrap and rolling or pressing to even thickness. Cover with foil and chill 15-to-30 minutes before slicing into bars. These are high-calorie and sweet, so I cut these bars small. Yields 4-to-5 dozen 1 in. x 3 in. bars. 

Note: Substituting dried apricots for the dates in this recipe would also work well.

Additional Note: My induction oven does a very poor job of browning foods. Items do not brown or toast as expected. Despite that, toasting the almonds and oats even without browning them produces a far superior flavor than adding them to this recipe untoasted.

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