Peach Berry Bars

IMG_2009While part of me is gravitating toward all things pumpkin these days, the more rational part (the part that actually goes outside in the 89% humidity) realizes that summer is still going strong, and the pumpkin extravaganza can wait. No worries, friends, pumpkin recipes are coming. But for now, I still have peaches to eat. Here in North Carolina, we will have peaches and blueberries for just a precious few weeks more and then apples and pumpkins will rein again. So, I’m loading up on peaches–freezing them, making peach jam, baking peach cobbler and trying new recipes like these delicious peach and berry bars.

These bars have an almond crust and topping, with thick, sweet peaches and blueberries in between. Summer deliciousness! You could substitute apricots, raspberries or whatever is fresh at your farmers markets. I may try this again with a thin layer of lemon curd over the crust to give some zing to the sweetness. They are great for picnics and late summer tailgating, so try them before the Polar Vortex returns and peaches are just a lovely memory of summer.

This recipe is based on one from Eating Well. I’ve changed up a few things to cut down on the sugar, but if you want the original recipe, you can find it HERE.

Peach Berry Bars (makes 18 bars)

Crust (also topping)

  • 1 cup almond chopped raw almonds
  • 1.5 cups organic whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup organic coconut palm sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp. cold, organic unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 large farm egg
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 Tbsp. organic coconut oil

Filling

  • 4 cups, chopped fresh peaches
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and stems removed
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup quick cook tapioca
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Prepare the crust by combining 3/4 cups of the chopped almonds, flour, coconut sugar, salt and cinnamon in a food processor. Combine well.
  3. Add butter and pulse just until butter is incorporated (about 5-10 seconds).
  4. Combine oil, vanilla and almond extract in a bowl. With the food processor running on low, add the oil mixture and the egg. Blend until moist and crumbly. Reserve 1/2 cup of the crust to serve as the topping. Combine the reserved topping with the remaining chopped almonds and set aside.
  5. Coat a 9 x 13 pan lightly with coconut oil. Press the crust mixture evenly onto the bottom of the greased pan and set aside.
  6. In a saucepan, combine the fruit and orange juice and cook over medium heat for 5-6 minutes. Fruit should start to thicken. Add the tapioca and vanilla, stir well, and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Fruit should be very thick at this point.
  7. Pour the fruit mixture over the crust in the pan and spread evenly.
  8. Top the fruit with dollops of the reserved topping, pressing the topping into the fruit a bit.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and cook for 20 minutes more.
  10. Let bars cool for about 15 minutes. Put cooled bars in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes more to cool.
  11. Cut cooled bars and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-5 days.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Clean Energy Bars

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We’re all looking for clean energy, aren’t we?

My 10:00 snack monster is getting me in trouble. Since we eat breakfast early (6:00), by 10:00, I am usually a little hungry. Not ravenous, but hungry enough that I am tempted by poor choices. Enter, our volunteer check-in desk. This area where our volunteers come and check in before beginning their work is usually laden with cookies, candy, cupcakes and crackers. It is an area of sabotage, and I have fallen prey more times than I care to admit. I fuel up on sugar and processed flour and am hungry again in no time. So, I am committed to stay away from that trap of highly processed food and refined sugar, and come prepared with healthier alternatives. Like apples, cheese and these energy bars!

I love the energy bars sold at Trader Joes and Whole Foods, but many of them have preservatives and filler carbs that aren’t so great. But when I’m craving something sweet, an apple doesn’t always cut it for me. These energy bars are terrific–they taste good, give me the sweetness I crave occasionally and have only three ingredients! The secret is using pitted dried dates. They add fiber and sweetness with no refined sugar. You can switch out the nuts and the other dried fruit, but keep the dates–they bind everything together.

Depending on your preference, you can cut these into 12 squares (2″x2″) or 6 bars (2″x4″). Each square is 120 calories and each bar is 240 calories. So, these are not something you want to chow down on, but they are very satisfying, with more protein and fiber than a brownie–and NO refined flour or sugar.

This recipe idea came from The Kitchn!

Clean Energy Bars (makes 12 squares or 6 bars)

1 cup dried, pitted dates
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup dried tart cherries

Add the dates to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the dates are sticky and chopped fine.

Add the almonds and pulse again until the almonds are finely ground.

Add the dried cherries and process at high until the mixture is completely chopped and is sticking together in a ball.

Remove the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and press into a square about 8″ x 8″. Wrap and put in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Remove from the refrigerator, unwrap, and cut into squares or bars. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week in an airtight container.

NOTE: You do not have to keep these refrigerated, but if left at room temperature, they will have a softer texture.

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