I originally came up with this quick little recipe several years ago when I was training for my first Boston Marathon in the middle of a full Ironman season; I was working in a restaurant and I was starving. All the time. “The training volume just keeps climbing,” I wrote in my recipe journal. “Boston is on the horizon and I’m getting faster and stronger, more and more ready to run 26.2 every day. Ironman will be here before I know it. Days tick by quickly when so much is plugged into the calendar and yet no session can whisk by without some thought given to the session at hand, or the one to follow. It’s a wonderful, interwoven process that is completely satisfying, challenging and exciting, leaving my little bod quietly exhausted and calm, content with what it’s put in. But also, starving.” I confessed.
I was stashing these little homemade energy bars everywhere at that time; in purses and bags, in the car and the nightstand…just in case hunger struck. I don’t hide snacks in my nightstand anymore, but I have taken some version of these raw bars with me almost everywhere I’ve gone. (I even made them in our tent at Cape Epic last March because I knew they’d be that much more delicious than whatever was stocked at the aid station.) The recipe morphs depending on what I have on hand, switching out the fruits and nuts; raisins and walnuts in the French Alps, pistachios + cherries in Italy. And now dates + pecans here in Boulder so they could be paired earlier this week with the most unreal aged peach brandy at this a very cool event at Pro Peloton here in Boulder. The menu was designed to feature treats that could be enjoyed perfectly straight from a jersey pocket, or as a course at a dinner party and thus paired with libations (enter that amazing brandy.) I was beyond flattered to be invited to cook, and knew immediately that this trusty recipe would have to make the menu (along with this, this and this) because, if you think about it, sweet fruits and nuts are just what we like on a dessert cheese plate, and that’s exactly (and only!) what these are. Simple.
There isn’t much to say about this lovely recipe but I do love it for being sturdy, straightforward and simple. Put all of the dried fruits and nuts in a food processor, pulse them up until they form a nice paste and then press into the pan and very quickly you’ll have the best raw, vegan, gluten-free, delicious bar you’ve ever imagined, without ripping open a package. I
I ladvise you to make it your own; add spices or your favorite fruits, play with combinations until you find something delicious that you just love. And, in the meantime, enjoy this lovely date + pecan version…pair it with brandy if you like!
Enjoy! – xo L
- 1 cup medjool dates, sliced in half and pitted
- 1/4 cup organic tart dried cherries
- 1/2 cup dried mission figs
- 1/2 cup pecans (or, sprouted pecans if you can find them!)
- 2 tablespoons organic maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons finely ground flax seed
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and place the pecans onto a baking sheet. Bake for 5-7 minutes until the pecans are just toasted. Remove from oven, turn off heat, and set aside. (If you're using sprouted pecans, skip this step!)
- Line an 8x8 pan with parchment or wax paper. Sprinkle lightly but completely with ground flax seed then set aside.
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the dates, cherries, figs, pecans and maple. Pulse until the mixture comes together and is generally smooth but still has a few chunks.
- Empty the mixture out onto the prepared pan. Press the date mixture out in the pan until its the same thickness all over, about 1/2 inch.
- Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to chill overnight until hard. Remove from refrigerator, slice into squares and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. *Storing in the refrigerator will keep the texture of the bars hard, rather than soft.