Girl Crushes and Bars

Make these healthy energy bars and you'll never buy the junk ones at 7-11 ever again.


Stop the David Lynch train of thought there, tiger. It's not what you think. It's even better. (Well, kind of ….)

Actually, let’s talk about it. Come on. You have one. Me? I don’t have one. Not at all … Okay, fine. I have a lot of them. Girl crushes. The only kind of crush that even your boyfriend will encourage. I kid. (Well, kind of ….) And isn’t it a coincidence that my top two poster girls are science nerdette PhDs who are so hot you’d wish you had something witty to say about correlation coefficients whenever you run into them?

Even better, not only does their research make this world a better place, these ladies also make the best energy bars in the world. A little non-sequitur but hey, one look at these babies (I am talking about the recipes) and you know it’s going to be one of the few times where you’ll want to use the method of most squares approach.

Crush/Bar Number 1 is from Leah H. (Yep, pronounced the same as mine, like the Princess in Star Wars.) She’s the founder of the Highland Park Food Co-Op that I am so happy to be a part of. We are a bunch of food lovers who exchange food every week. And I tell ya, I bust my a** trying to make sure my contribution matches everyone’s stellar provisions. I waxed romantic about them here.  

Bar Number 1 I creatively call “Leah Bars.” I’d like to get it out of the way that the ingredient list for these suckers may seem pretty daunting. BUT. All the ingredients are whole, recognizable food. No soy protein isolates, dextrose, maltose BS. No refined sugar. And it's worth it because it makes a batch of a bazillion bars that you can cut and freeze. Make once, enjoy multiple times. As it should be for many things in life. Method of most squares, right?

Crush/Bar Number 2 is from Jayda S. Jayda broke my heart when she moved back to Canada last year. I blame her husband wholeheartedly. Jayda has a PhD in Nutrition and is a Health Counselor like me. She founded Eat Whole Be Vital and together we run a cleanse/detox program twice a year called The Clean Plate Cleanse. My daughter is betrothed to her son.

Bar Number 2 I again creatively call “Jayda Bars.” They’re grain-free snack bars that are full of protein and just as nutrient-dense as Leah Bars. I must confess that I’ve been known to defile these bars by cutting them into bite-size squares and dipping them in ganache. Eaten straight from the freezer, they will cure any ailments.

Both these recipes are very forgiving — you can use any combination of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, etc. as long as you keep the dry-to-wet ingredient ratio steady. They are also low-cook recipes, which is a characteristic most of my summer recipes share. What’s that saying? “If you can’t take the heat — find another way to cook!”

I love both of these recipes. They can be breakfast, snack or dessert. They are (gasp) good for you. Just, well, don’t eat a ton of them in one sitting, right?

 Leah Bars

Yield: Makes about 48 4x1x1 bars

Heat these ingredients:

  • 1 lb raw dates, seeds removed
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • scant 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Just before removing from the heat, thoroughly stir in:

  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Mix together dry ingredients before stirring into the liquid mixture: (all of these ingredients are loose…if you don’t have one, use more of another. I just throw in whatever stuff I’ve got laying around. Also, it doesn’t really matter if they’re raw or toasted; the flavor and texture will be different for either condition.)

  • 3-4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup peanut flour/chickpea flour/amaranth flour
  • 2/3 cup almond flour
  • ~1 cup millet
  • 2/3 cup flax seeds
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup almonds (roughly chopped)
  • 1 cup walnuts (roughly chopped)
  • 1/2 cup pepitas (roughly chopped)
  • 1 1/3 cup dry cranberries (roughly chopped)
  • 1 cup golden raisins (roughly chopped)

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Cook the date mixture in a big pot on low, stirring and mashing the dates until big chunks are gone. Now might be a good time to whip out your immersion blender. If the mixture looks too thick, add more water. If it’s too thin, it’ll thicken as it cooks. If you are getting crusting around the edge of the pan, it’s too hot.

3. Stir all the ingredients vigorously until they’re all coated well. If it’s too dry, throw in some honey or maple syrup. If it’s too wet…well, it probably won’t be … but if it is, add more dry stuff.
Grease one half-sheet (~12″x17″) pan that has raised edges lightly (I do it with coconut oil using my hands). Dump all of the mixture into the pan. Using wetted hands, press the mixture evenly and firmly into the pan. The more firmly you press it in, the less crumbly it will be when you remove the bars.

4. Bake for about 15 minutes. They won’t seem very baked. Let them rest for about 5 minutes, then cut out bar shapes. Rest for another 5 or 10 minutes, and gently remove the bars to a cooling rack or plate. By removing them when they’re still a little warm, you will be able to pack crumbling edges back into a bar, so take this opportunity to “set” the shape of the bars.

  Jayda Bars

Yield: Makes 20 bars

  • 1 1/4 cups almonds  
  • 3/4 cup walnuts  
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 cups shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup cocao nibs or mini chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life brand)
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup (or honey if you are not vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon

1. In a food processor, finely chop 1 cup of the almonds to a flour-like consistency.

2. Using a knife or a food processor course chop the remaining almonds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds.

3. Mix all dry ingredients together.

4. In a saucepan, mix coconut oil, honey, vanilla, salt and cinnamon. Stir on low heat until thoroughly mixed. Add to dry ingredients and mix.

5. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and press mixture into the pan. Sprinkled with chia seeds. Keep pressing until it is firmly packed.

6. Freeze for 30 minutes then cut into bars. Store in the freezer.


Jayda Bars photo by Jayda Siggers

Categories: Brazen Kitchen