Summer’s fast approaching, so we’re sharing this recipe for a portable snack that’s equally good at on a sunny picnic as it is on the bike. It’s a homemade energy bar that we developed to be packed with nutrition and still taste like a treat. Sweet and nutty with a hint of lemony vanilla, they have a distinctive chewy crunch. And, importantly, these bars hold up in a jersey pocket or a lunchbox without falling apart.
To help hold the bars together we use honey and dark brown sugar, but if you’d like to avoid using the honey, it can be replaced one-to-one with dark corn syrup or date syrup. Just know that replacing the honey like this will result in a softer, less chewy bar.
A note about ingredients: These are gluten free as long as you make sure to use GF rolled oats. For the roasted nuts specified in the ingredients, we like to use 50/50 almonds and cashews
CHEWY VANILLA NUT BARS
2 cups rolled oats, 200g (old-fashioned, not instant)
¾ cup unsalted butter, 170g
¾ cup dark brown sugar, tightly packed, 180g
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (from one medium-sized lemon)
¼ cup honey, 85g
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
⅔ cup roasted nuts, 100g, roughly chopped (almonds, cashews, walnuts and hazelnuts all work great)
½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds, 70g
¼ cup flax seeds, 40 g
2 Tablespoons chia seeds
1 cup chopped, pitted Medjool dates, 190g (about 10 large dates)
Prepare a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with sides at least one inch high by greasing with butter or coconut oil and lining with parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
Take about half of the rolled oats (approx. 1 cup) and pulse them briefly in a food processor so that they’re roughly broken up.
In a medium saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar and salt. Heat slowly, stirring regularly until the fats are melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and mix in lemon zest, honey and vanilla.
In a large bowl, combine oats (processed and unprocessed), the warm butter mixture, chopped nuts, seeds and chopped dates. Mix well, then turn out into the prepared baking pan. With a rubber spatula, press the mixture firmly into the pan and spread evenly.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until golden, bubbling and browned around the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature, about 45 minutes, before removing from the pan. Cut into bars or squares as you like, just make sure to cut them within an hour or so of baking, before they firm up completely. They become much trickier to cut cleanly. Wrap individually in foil or Skratch paper for a ride snack, or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.
Yield: About 16 bars (1.5″ x 4″) or 12 large squares (3″ x 3″)