A nut-free energy bar that is sweet, chewy, and filling…..what more could you ask for? Because it's nice to take a break from nuts every once in a while and because many of us have nut allergies these days, I decided to show you how tasty oat energy bars can be sans the nuts. These are loaded with tahini, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and lots of orange zest. They are perfect to carry with you to work or school for a quick breakfast, an afternoon snack, or for pre/post-workout fuel. Plus, when you see how easy they are to make and can pronounce each and every whole ingredient I don't think you'll want to go back to store-bought ones anytime soon.
There is a bike messenger in St. Gallen. I don't know why I am telling you this other than the fact that I associate oat bars with energy. And this guy uses a lot of energy biking around delivering mysterious (well, mysterious to me!) packages to businesses. The road by our house is on a hill, and my office window looks out on to the road. So I see the bike messenger going up and down this hill literally every day, 3-4 times a day. You can't miss him because he is there rain or shine, snow or ice, wearing a bright yellow jacket and a large, sturdy yellow messenger bag. Bike messengers are such an environmentally friendly and efficient solution for transporting time-sensitive packages within a city, but I am always curious to know what they carry around in their bags and for whom they are delivering. In Philadelphia, where we used to live, there is a particularly unique bike messenger you can check out here, in case you are as intrigued by their work as I am. ;-)
But back to the oat bars; whether your profession is that of a bike messenger, corporate warrior, or any other role we take on in life, I think we all have some space for a sweet oat bar every once in a while. Don't you?!
Orange-Tahini Oat Bars
Adapted from A Sweet Spoonful
Makes 8-12 bars
1 cup soft, pitted dates
1/3 cup tahini (sesame butter)
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp orange juice (~ 1 orange)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Zest from 1 1/2 large un-waxed oranges
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp flax seeds (optional)
Preheat oven 375 F (190 C). Use coconut oil or butter to coat an 8 inch square baking dish.
Add dates to a food processor and process until they are finely minced and begin to form a ball.
In a small sauce pan over low heat warm tahini, applesauce, syrup, and orange juice, mixing well until the mixture is fully incorporated and liquid. Cool slightly, then add to the food processor with the dates along with vanilla extract. Process until the mixture has smoothed out and the dates are full incorporated into the liquid, about 1 minute.
In the meantime in a large mixing bowl, add the remaining ingredients (oats through salt, and flax seeds if using). Mix well, then add the date mixture while still warm. Stir together with a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon until the oat mixture is full coated and sticks together.
Pour into baking dish, pressing down so it even. This is important so it cooks evenly. Bake for 25-28 minutes, until edges are just beginning to turn light golden brown and the middle is still slightly pale. (Note: Don't wait until the middle is also golden brown and completely dry to the touch or the bars will be too dry once cooled.)
Place on a cooling rack and cool completely (at least 1 hour), then use a serrated knife to cut into bars or squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature (5-7 days) or in the fridge/freezer for longer.