Does anyone else ever get in food ruts?
Like where you eat the same things for days, weeks, months on end and think nothing of it? I totally do. I’m a creature of routine. As much as I love to experiment in the kitchen and am always trying out new recipes, when I look at an average day, I find there’s little variation in what I eat. For the most part, I’m pretty content to do this. If I like something, it’s healthy, and convenient to pack up and take to work, I’m going to eat it often.
But then the same thing always happens. I’ll be munching along, months deep in a food rut, minding my own business, when all of a sudden whatever food I’ve been routinely eating loses all appeal. I’ll think to myself, “wow, I really don’t want to eat this again any time soon.”
I mean it’s bound to happen. So realizing I do this, and knowing our metabolisms thrive off a varied diet, lately I’ve been trying to shake my routine a bit. Which is how I came up with these bars.
One of my favorite mid-afternoon noshes has long been a homemade dark chocolate almond butter cup with a small handful of raisins. Nothing but high quality dark chocolate (you know, antioxidants), nuts, and dried fruit. Making “cups” out of these ingredients was just so I could have something easily portable for taking to class and work.
But after a, uhm, year and a half or so of eating this nearly every day, it was time for something new.
So what did I do? Took basically the exact same ingredients and made them into a different shape.
Like I said, creature of routine.
But these bars are so good. Grain free, vegan, and sweetened with dates and a touch of honey or maple syrup, they’re a nutrient dense snack easy for taking on the go. And like the title says, they need only ten minutes to prepare. Simply throw some nuts, coconut, and dates in a food processor, and add a squeeze of honey and a bit of vanilla. Then just melt some chocolate, smooth it over the top, put the pan in the freezer, and you’re done! Maybe even less than ten minutes.
Better than a candy bar. Whole food ingredients. Easy to make and take along.
Food rut over. That is unless I end up eating one of these every day for the next year and a half instead. But once you try them, you won’t blame me!
10-Minute Almond Joy Bars
Yields an 8″ square pan (12-16 bars)
- 1/2 cup (57g) unsalted almonds
- 1 cup (80g) unsweetened shredded coconut
- 16 (145g) soft pitted dates
- 2 tsp. honey (or maple syrup for vegan)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 3.5oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. coconut oil
- Toasted coconut, for sprinkling on top if desired
Line an 8″ square pan with parchment paper.
In a food processor or high-powered blender*, pulse together the almonds, coconut, and dates until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the honey, vanilla, and salt, and pulse a few more times just until the mixture holds together when pinched.
Transfer the mixture to the pan and press it down into an even layer. It helps to slightly dampen your fingers with water before doing this.
Melt together the chocolate and coconut oil, either in the microwave or using a double boiler. Stir until smooth. Pour the chocolate over the base layer, using a rubber spatula to create an even surface. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, if desired.
Place the bars in the freezer for 30 minutes until set. Remove from the pan and peel the parchment paper from the sides. Use a sharp knife to cut into bars or squares. Store in the refrigerator.
*You may use semisweet chocolate if you’d like. Finely chopped chocolate from a bar is preferred, but chocolate chips are okay.
*I am in love with my Ninja.