We first posted about these breakfast bars on our Facebook page in October of last year. We've tested and tweaked the recipes a few times and decided it was high time to post them in January, but kept forgetting to take pictures. I finally remembered to take pictures a couple weeks ago and realized a few things - 1) The lighting in our kitchen is abysmal. 2) I am 100% not a photographer. 3) There was nothing I could do to make these bars look appetizing. Nothing. So just trust us when we say you should make them.
For the past couple of years we've struggled with finding a good on-the-go breakfast that could hold us over until lunch time. We used Smitten Kitchen's thick, chewy granola bars for a long time, but they were a little sweet (even though we cut the amount of sugar) and didn't always tide us over until lunch. Then one day Rachel sent me a link to this recipe for Tahini-Date Salted Caramels and said simply, "I WANT TO MAKE FAKE CARAMELS." I'm always game to try a new recipe and I love traditional caramels, so we made them that night and loved them. We made them a few more times before I realized I could probably add chopped nuts and dried fruit and make a no-bake, vegan, grain- and refined-sugar-free breakfast bar (if you use raw tahini, they're raw, too!). You know the absolute best part? They're easy to throw together and you don't even have to turn on the oven!
I decided to use walnuts and tart cherries to offset the sweetness of the dates, but you can probably use any combo of nuts/dried fruits that appeals to you. We also started adding chia seeds, which do get all up in your dental work, but help you feel full longer. We each take one for breakfast every day and I frequently will take an extra one to work if I have a full day of patients with no scheduled lunch break. They're also great a post-workout snack!
Delicious Breakfast Bars (Vegan, Grain-free, Refined-sugar-free)
Makes 16 bars.
Equipment needed: Food processor (or possibly a high-powered blender like a Blendtec or a Ninja), 8"x8" square pan, parchment paper
- 1-1/2 cups pitted dates - We've made these with medjool, barhi, and deglet noor, and have found that the moistness of the dates matter. Deglett noor seem to be a little drier than the other two varieties, so we if we use them, we tend to mix them with either medjool or barhi.
- 3/4 cup tahini - We like the East Wind Community tahini the best.
- 3 Tbsp coconut oil - room temperature 1 cup chopped nuts - We run whole nuts through the food processor, but you can buy chopped nuts and save yourself a step.
- 1/3-1/2 cup dried sour cherries
- 1-4 Tbsp chia seeds - We started with 1 T and have since increased this to about 4 T. Of course, it's up to you.
1. Combine 1-1/2 cups of pitted dates, 3/4 cup tahini, 3 Tbsp coconut oil in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Blend until you have a thick, creamy paste.
2. Add the 1 cup of chopped nuts, 1/3-1/2 cup of dried sour cherries, and 1-4 Tbsp of chia seeds in on top of the paste. Pulse until combined and most of the cherries are broken up, everything is evenly distributed, and it starts to pull away from the sides.
3. Line a 8"x8" square pan with parchment and transfer the mixture to the pan. Press it flat with an off-set spatula, your fingers, or whatever floats your boat.
4. Refrigerate until firm (we usually do this overnight).
5. When firm, lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper and cut into squares. We usually use a pizza cutter, but a large knife should work as well.