Snacking can be a recipe for disaster for me.  I often crave chocolate and thought that if I ate a protein bar it would be a better choice for a snack.  On days when I crave sweeter fare, I often grabbed a granola bar.  While these are better choices, if you spend some time reading the ingredients on many of these bars, you often find a long list of items.  Not all of these bars are healthy and many may contain processed foods and even fructose.

When I worked with a nutritionist during my last training cycle, she actually called out my habit of reaching for these bars.  She made me realize there are many other healthier choices available to me.  I began exploring with some of her recipes and even creating healthier versions at home.

This weeks tips is to try making your own bars and snacks at home for healthier versions.  These are my two favorite recipes which are both super easy to make and delicious to eat.

HEALTHY 5-INGREDIENT GRANOLA BARS
Prep time 10 mins
Cook time 5 mins
Total time 15 mins

Ingredients
1 heaping cup packed medjool dates, pitted
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup creamy salted natural sun butter or almond butter
1 cup roasted unsalted almonds, loosely chopped
1 1/2 cups rolled gluten free oats
optional additions: chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, banana chips, vanilla, etc.

Instructions

  1. Process dates in a food processor until small bits remain (about 1 minute). It should form a “dough” like consistency.
  2. Toast your oats (and almonds if raw) in a 350 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes or until slightly golden brown.
  3. Place oats, almonds and dates in a large mixing bowl – set aside.
  4. Warm maple syrup and sun butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir and pour over oat mixture and then mix, breaking up the dates to disperse throughout.
  5. Once thoroughly mixed, transfer to an 8×8-inch baking dish or other small pan lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper so they lift out easily.
  6. Press down firmly until uniformly flattened – I use something flat, like a drinking glass, to press down and really pack the bars, which helps them hold together better.
  7. Cover with parchment or plastic wrap, and let firm up in fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Remove bars from pan and chop into 10 even bars (or 9 squares). Store in an airtight container for up to a few days. I kept mine in the freezer to keep them extra fresh, but it isn’t necessary.
    Notes
    *Although not ideal, if your dates don’t feel sticky and moist, you can soak them in water for 10 minutes then drain before processing. This will help them blend better and hold the bars together better. But ideally, you can find fresh, sticky moist dates.

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 bar Calories: 217 Fat: 8 g Saturated fat: 1 g Carbohydrates: 31 g Sugar: 19 g Fiber: 4 g Protein: 6 g

Author: Minimalist Baker

Pecan Butter Chocolate Truffles with Sea Salt

For the Pecan Butter

  • 2 cups pecans
  • 10 Deglet dates, pitted
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the Coating

  • 2 tbs virgin coconut oil
  • 3 tbs maple syrup
  • 3 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. To make the pecan butter: Spread the pecans out on a baking sheet and roast in coven for 8 minutes, stir after 4 minutes.  Allow pecans to cool completely.
  3. In Vitamix or food processor, combine pecans, dates and cinnamon.  Pulse or blend on high until smooth.  Do not overprocess – should be thick.
  4. Use your hands to roll the pecan butter into bite size balls.  Place on baking sheet.
  5. To make the coating: Place the oil in a small saucepan over low heat until melted, stir in the maple syrup and cocoa powder until smooth.
  6. Drop one ball at a time in the chocolate coating, use a fork to lift out.  Return to the baking sheet.  Top each truffle with a pinch of salt.
  7. Place the baking sheet in the fridge for 10 – 15 minutes or until ready to eat.
  8. Store in airtight container, lined with parchment paper, in the fridge for up to one week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

These are super delicious and make a wonderful bite size afternoon snack!

Author: Shalane Flanagan & Elyse Kopecky

These chocolate bites and many other healthy recipes can be found in one of my favorite cookbooks.  I highly recommend this book, even if you are not a runner.  Easy to cook meals and snacks can be found inside the pages of this book.

Run Fast. Eat Slow.: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes

Do you have a favorite recipe to share?  Please post it below in the comments.  If you try these, please post your thoughts below.  Enjoy!

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2 thoughts on “Thursday Tips & Tricks

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