These amazingly tasty iBars are made with whole food ingredients and can be personalized: you choose the flavor combinations, size and packaging! I always make sure that we have a batch of bars wrapped up in the fridge, as my husband loves them anytime and the kids either bring one to school or eat one with an apple as an after school snack. I have served them at our daughter’s soccer party and bring one on my long runs. Instead of making bars, very small cookie cutters could be used or the “dough” could be pressed into silicone molds. During the holiday season, they would make the perfect contribution for a cookie exchange or gift for your neighbors or coworkers.
The Nutrition Professor’s iBars
Yield: 36 tasty little bars
- ¾ cup unsalted nuts (my favorite is a combination of walnuts and roasted almonds)
- 16 oz dates, pitted and chopped (Carefully pit these – as one stray pit can ruin the whole batch, and maybe even your food processor!)
- 2 cups rolled oats (if you need this recipe to be gluten-free, simply use certified gluten-free oats)
- 2 tablespoons flax seeds (grind in coffee/spice grinder)
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1½ tablespoons cacao powder (unsweetened cocoa powder)
- 6 tablespoons chocolate chips, dairy-free – OPTIONAL (we often use Kirkland brand semi-sweet chocolate chips)
Pulse the nuts, oats and flax in the food processor until finely chopped, add the cocoa powder, vanilla and cinnamon and pulse 2-3 times. Then, with the machine running, add the dates, a few at a time, through the chute in the lid. When a little more than half of the dates have been added, begin alternating with a few tablespoons of chocolate chips (if using). Once all ingredients are well incorporated, the thick mixture might slow down the food processor and need to be transferred to a medium sized stainless steel bowl for final mixing by hand.
Line an 8″ x 8″ baking dish with 2 layers of plastic wrap that drape over the edges and then put bar mixture in center. Cover with an additional piece of plastic wrap, to avoid sticky fingers, and press down on mixture until the thickness is uniform. Refrigerate for a few hours and then the plastic wrap will allow for easy removal to a cutting board. Make 36 bars by cutting into six rows across and six rows down. I wrap the little bars individually and then store them in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator, where they would last for weeks at a time, if everyone didn’t eat them so often!
You can skip the chocolate chips, if you would like, and consider adding lemon zest &/or extract if you enjoy lemon bars. Perhaps use my chai spice mix (http://www.thenutritionprofessor.com/) or your favorite garam masala, even a sprinkle or two of chipotle chili powder might be fun!
Nutrition info: per bar (without chocolate chips): 70 kcals, 13 g carbohydrates,1.7 g fiber, 1.4 g protein, 1.9 g fat, 0 g cholesterol; (with chocolate chips): 82 kcals, 14.6 g carbohydrates,1.7 g fiber, 1.4 g protein, 2.6 g fat, 0 g cholesterol
Timaree Hagenburger, is a registered dietitian and certified health fitness specialist with a master’s degree in public health. She is a nutrition professor at Cosumnes River College, does corporate wellness work, as well as professional speaking engagements and teaches hands-on cooking/nutrition classes.
Read my article in the Lodi News Sentinel that featured this recipe.