When it comes to feeding my family, I am a stickler for keeping processed foods out of the house (for the most part). As Michael Pollan says, “don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize.” We do a pretty good job of following this rule of thumb, and I’m always mixing up homemade snacks instead of buying something that comes out of a box.
My son and I have a favorite snack in our house that takes only minutes to make, tastes delicious and lasts for the week. Even better, D helps me make it - which is great when it comes to him learning about food.
Traditionally, protein bars contain a lot of refined carbohydrates, chemicals, sugar and yep, like everything else - artificial sweeteners. Of course, there are some healthier options out there, but they can get really pricey and ya’ll - I’ve got two growing boys. Mama needs to save her pennies where she can!
They are a great afternoon snack that I usually pull out mid-afternoon for a boost in energy. They should not serve as meal replacements. D will usually request them for his afternoon snack, so I give him one with a serving of vegetables.
These bars are full of nuts, which are a heart-healthy fat, high in fatty acids, vitamin E, antioxidants & fiber. You could also use peanuts, which are legumes, and higher in protein than other nut. Bonus.
For the sweetness factor, added fiber and potassium (and to hold the bars together) I use medjool dates. You can find these in the produce or bulk food section in most grocery or health food stores. And, for an extra punch of goodness these bad boys have gogi berries. When using your food processor be mindful to not drop them in all at once because they take time to breakdown.
Raw cashes, pecans & almonds - 1 cup total
Medjool dates - 1 cup
Gogi berries - 1/4 cup
*Sometimes instead of gogi berries we use maca powder, chocolate chunks, and some cinnamon (and/or vanilla extract). Play around with your favorite flavors and see what you can come up with!
In your food processor first blend down the nuts until they resemble a thick sand. Then, slowly add the medjool dates (a few at a time) to the mixture. As you do this, the mix will begin to thicken and form together. Finally, throw in the gogi berries - I love how they add color to these bars.
Tip: be mindful to remove all the pits from your dates. I’ve been on auto pilot a time or two and before I knew it my blender was rocking across the counter because I had thrown the dates in whole. Oops.
Once you have the mixture blended well, you’ll notice it start to form together. Scoop it out into a container, press & pack it firmly down. Stick them in the fridge to harden a bit, and then dig in.
You are ready to slice it in portions and share with your family!