I love dates.
Because this is a food blog, you already know I’m talking about the dried fruit. (I do also like actual dates, particularly when they include long walks on the beach – and ice cream. OK, even just ice cream).
These sweet, nutrient-packed little beauties are my new favourite ingredient.
Yes, dates are full of sugar. That’s a given. And sugar intake should always be monitored. But, if you’re going to eat sugar, you might as well get it from dates.
Take their sugar away and all you’ve got left are powerful nutrients like fibre (essential for preventing the spike of blood sugar following a sugary treat), protein, potassium and selenium. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant, helping to prevent possible cancer cells from replicating.
In one of my new favourite books How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger, he talks about the benefits of eating dates. In fact, it’s one of the only sources of sugar he actually recommends eating (sorry, agave fans).
This date-based power bar recipe includes no honey or maple syrup or processed sugar. The dates add a bit of sweetness and are the glue that holds these bars together.
They contain only five ingredients, six if you count the pinch of salt I added.
Peanut Power Bars are gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free and vegan. With all of those “frees”, you think they’d be gross, but they’re seriously addictive. C. actually requests them because they make a great pre-gym/post-gym snack.
You do need a food processor. And, unfortunately, this is non-negotiable. I have one dead blender to prove it.
The best thing about these power bars? They’ve been OFFICIALLY KID-APPROVED. I had my co-worker take a bar home for her 9-year-old son. He was my test subject because she told me she initially gave him Lärabars (one of the main ingredients is dates) and he was not a fan.
I’m proud to say these ones got the stamp of approval!
If your child goes to a school with strict no-peanut rules, you could easily swap out the peanut butter for almond butter or cashew butter. If the school has a totally nut-free policy, sunflower butter will work just fine!
If you want to make them a bit more of a treat, sprinkle a few chocolate chips in. A little chocolate never hurt anybody, right?
After you slice these, wrap them individually in cling-wrap or wax paper. Store them in the fridge or freezer and eat them as you please. I’ve made this recipe three times and they’ve never lasted longer than four days in the fridge. That’s only because we eat them too fast! They should keep well for a week or longer in the fridge.
If you make them, I’d love to hear your thoughts and creative twists!
Peanut Power Bars (Gluten-Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free)
Makes 24 large bars
3 cups pitted Deglet Noor dates
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
2 cups large flake oats (buy GF if needed)
2 tsp sea salt
- Soak your dates in hot or boiling water for ten minutes. Drain the water.
- Add dates and vanilla to the food processor and pulse until they form a paste. If you’re having difficulty getting them to break down, add a few tbsp of peanut butter to soften the mixture.
- Remove from food processor and mix in a large bowl with peanut butter, coconut, oats and sea salt.
- Place in the freezer for two hours to firm up and slice into bars. Wrap individually or place parchment/wax paper between layers to avoid sticking.