No-Bake Apple and Almond Butter Bars
I’m currently taking a little bit of a breather from recipe testing for Dude Diet Dos because…well, I just needed a breather. I’m hoping that a little time away from the DDD test kitchen will help me gain some perspective on the recipes I’ve already developed and come up with some more fresh and funky dinner ideas. (Please keep your fingies crossed for this weird blog lady.)
In the meantime, I’ve transitioned to writing. This has been difficult because I’m a hilariously task-oriented human, and I had planned to complete all the recipes before I started writing. (By “writing,” I mean the non-recipe content for the cookbook—introductory chapters, headnotes, etc.) That’s how I did things the first time around, and it worked very well, so when I sat down to write my first headnote last week, my brain screamed, “You have not completed Phase 1! Do not proceed to Phase 2!! DOES NOT COMPUTE.” I then proceeded to stare at a blank Word document for an hour and question all of my life choices…
10 days later, I’m pleased to report that I’m making progress, people! It’s been a struggle, but I’m doing my best to embrace “creative fluidity” in my professional life (big ups to my therapist), and I’m slowwwwwly but surely moving forward.
I’m also doing a lot of procrastinating.
Not to toot my own horn, but I am a truly excellent procrastinator. The best of the best. If there were procrastination Olympics, I would be Michael Phelps. My ability to find things to do to avoid doing what I’m supposed to be doing is unparalleled. Funnily enough, my go-to way to put off writing about food is…to make myself food.
My snacks in particular have become increasingly elaborate lately, and I’d love to say that I’ll stop spending upwards of an hour (outside of meals) feeding myself during the workday, but I probably won’t. This is just who I am. I mean, why have a piece of fruit or some veggies and hummus, when I could spend at least 15 to 20 minutes making myself something exciting while not writing my book?! I deserve fancy toast, healthy chocolate pudding, or No-Bake Apple and Almond Butter Bars, yes??
Don’t answer that.
The no-bake bars on your screen are actually something I whipped up a while ago and had planned to share in September as the perfect “back-to-school/return to real life” snack. But I made a batch yesterday as a procrastination-friendly alternative to the fresh apple and almond butter I was craving, and they were so good that it felt selfish to hoard the recipe any longer.
(Also, time spent writing this blog post is time not spent agonizing over my book, which is another procrastination win!!)
Made with the usual suspects—dates, almond butter, rolled oats, and chia or hemp seeds for a superfood boost—plus dried apple rings for that big fruit flavor, these fiber and protein packed bars are addictively sweet and nutty. A squeeze of lemon, a dash of vanilla extract, and plenty of cinnamon make them taste almost pie-like, and the texture is dense and chewy (just like energy bites). They also happen to be perfectly portioned for a quick snack. Just one should hit the spot, but you’ll probably want to have two. No judgment.
1½ packed cup dried apple rings
1 packed cups pitted Medjool dates
½ cup unsweetened smooth almond butter
¼ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup hemp or chia seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of nutmeg
Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor. Process until all of the ingredients are well combined and form a sticky “dough” (this can take up to 3 minutes!), stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice if necessary.
Line a cutting board with wax paper or greased parchment. Place the dough on the paper, and roll it out into a roughly 6x8 inch rectangle with about ¾-inch thickness. (It doesn’t need to be perfect, people! You can always trim the ends if you want very straight sides.)
Freeze for 30 minutes to firm up the dough, then slice into 12 square(ish) bars or any shape you like. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for firmer bars, or in the refrigerator for chewier bars.
These bars cal also be made into bite-size balls if you prefer. Just roll tablespoon-sized amounts of the mixture into balls when you remove it from the food processor and then freeze/refrigerate before serving.
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