Sometimes I think the we should employ a food-rating system.
Same as movies or video games.
One where chocolate chip cookies are rated G and scary-ish type things like Stilton are rated R.
Salsa? Um, I’d say PG-ish. We must discuss the relative dangers of habaneros and jalapenos with our children before they consume varieties of salsa.
These bars? They hover somewhere in the PG range too.
It’s the dried orange slices and the spices.
They bump the bars out of the G range – where toddlers and gradeschoolers would gobble them up like raisins, and move them into the parent range where adults appreciate the flavors of warm spices, toasted nuts, and a citrusy orange scent in their fruit.
The kids? Not so much.
So this is what I say – if you’re going for the G rated version, eliminate the oranges. Maybe don’t toast the nuts, and skip the spices. Use apple juice instead of orange juice. That type of bar will be much more palatable for young little tastebuds.
And that sweet little bar can be toted to school in a lunch box.
With dates, cherries, almonds, and rolled oats in the mix, we’re talking healthy snack bars here.
And bonus – they’re packed with protein and fiber, and they’re toting along some whole grains. . . . Mmmhmm.
Remember when the people at Oh Nuts sent me those yummy dried fruits and nuts?
The Bing cherries in these bars came from there.
Some of us have discovered a new love of those dried little berries.
They’re almost as good as chocolate chippies. . . .
Just sayin’ – you might be able to guess which “some of us” it is. . . .
And the orange slices? They’ve pretty much overtaken my baking imagination. . . .
We’re nearing the end of our three pounds of goodies, and I’m already wondering what I want to try next.
The pine nuts? The dried raspberries? The raw Oregon hazelnuts? The smooth and creamy Raw Almond Butter?? Most definitely the dried mangoes. . . .
Uhh, obviously I’m having a hard time deciding.
I best just grab myself a an energy bar and walk myself in circles while I think it over. . . .
This could take a while.
These bars can be simplified easily by omitting the spices and oranges. The combination of straight dates and cherries, blended with nuts, oats, and a mild juice such as grape or apple juice, would lend itself nicely to a kid-friendly flavor profile.
- 2 cups dried pitted dates
- 2 cups dried Bing cherries
- 1 cup raw almonds, (toasted if desired)
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1/4 cup dried orange slices, chopped (you can substitute a teaspoon or two of grated orange zest)
- 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon groung cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
If desired, toast almonds in 400 degree F oven for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine cooled almonds, rolled oats, dried orange, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, vanilla, and a half cup of dates. Pulse a few times until contents are well broken and mixed. Add in dates a half cup at a time, pulsing a few times after each addition. Next add cherries in the same fashion. If the mixture seems too dry to stick together, add in orange juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, until mixture is wet enough to hold together.
Pour "dough" into a parchment lined 9"x13" pan and spread and press with a rubber spatula as evenly as possible, attempting to fill the whole pan and reach the edges. Lay a piece of parchment or wax paper over fruit bar mixture, and over the top of the wax paper, use a flat bottomed cup (I used my measuring cup), to flatten the bars evenly and smooth the mixture to the edges.
Refrigerate for about a half hour, then cut into desired portions.
Store in the fridge for several days.
Sara | Home is Where The Cookies Are
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