I'm a big fan of using fruits as my sugar component. I'll sometimes use honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar to sweeten my dishes, but whenever I can, I'll use bananas or dates in place of other sugars. I keep big bags of peeled bananas in my freezer because I go through tons of bananas in my diet. I let them get nice and ripe before I freeze them so they're extra sweet. Of course they're perfect in smoothies, but they're even better in baking because they can be pureed and used to add moisture and sweetness to a recipe. Almost all of my breakfast bar recipes use pureed bananas as a binder and sweetener. This recipe has an extra natural sugar kick with the date filling. I added a heaping tablespoon of organic cocoa powder to turn these into chocolate date bars, but you could leave out the cocoa powder if you prefer the pure flavour of dates.
These chocolate vegan date bars are rich, gooey and chocolaty. You'd never even know that they were packed with good for you ingredients! No refined sugar, gluten free and vegan. If you're craving a pick me up snack, these are perfect for a quick bite. You can also slice them into squares and freeze them so that you always have some date bars handy when a craving strikes.
2 cups pitted dates, roughly chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp organic cocoa powder
2 cups oats
3/4 cups walnuts
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 large banana
1/4 cup coconut oil
1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2) In a food processor, add the dates and water and process until a smooth paste forms. You will have to stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the food processor a few times. When it is smooth, add the cocoa powder and cinnamon and mix to combine. Set aside.
3) In a food processor, add the oats, walnuts and chia seeds. Pulse a few times until it forms a coarse mixture. You want it to be chunky with bigger bits of oats still visible. Pour into a bowl.
4) Add the banana and coconut oil to the food processor and mix until it is smooth. Add this to the dry oat and walnut mixture. Use a spatula to mix until it is combined. (Note: depending on the size of your bananas, you may need to puree more banana if the mixture seems very dry)
5) Line a small baking dish with parchment paper and pour 3/4 of the oat mixture into the dish. Use a spatula or wet fingers to press the oat mixture down evenly.
6) Pour the date filling over top and use a spatula to spread it out evenly over the base.
7) Pour the remaining oat mixture over the date filling. It does not need to completely cover the filling, you want to be able to see a bit of the date filling peeking through.
8) Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before slicing.
These bars can be stored in the fridge or freezer to maintain freshness.