I have to confess that for many years I had been completely disinterested in nuts simply because I did not know how important and valuable they are for our bodies... but today I eat nuts every single day. My favorite ones are pine nuts and Brazilian nuts. I buy pine nuts which originate from Siberia as they are super delicious and sweet as well as very cheap in that part of the world. (If you see those, I highly recommend to try them.) I add pine nuts literally into every single fresh vegetable salad that I make. You can also find them in my ultimate spinach pie recipe, in my broccoli soup and even in hummus. Brazilian nuts are always next to me at work and serve as an all-day snack. One of the best things about Brazilian nuts is that they are one the richest source of selenium (INC, 2017) which has proven to lift up the mood and prevent depression - exactly what I need at work :)...
But today my recipe of delicious no-bake granola bars has been triggered by the beautiful colors of Alentejano* winter and need for energy. This time of year we all wish we could thrive the same way as in Spring and Summer, but lack of the sun and daylight makes it harder. That is why nuts are so important. They are so tiny but so powerful. Just one granola bar for breakfast keeps me full and active until lunch. Hazelnuts and almonds help improve my memory and stay focused during the day (INC, 2018). These nuts are full of healthy unsaturated fats, that lower down the bad LDL cholesterol keeping me healthy and in good spirit (HBR, 2018). You would not imagine my granola bars without peanuts, would you? They are an amazing source of protein! Finally, I am also going to add some yummy and sweet dates and dried apricots to keep my bars moist and naturally sweet... But most importantly, these nuts and fruit have spent their entire life facing the sun and absorbing Vitamin D, which they will now pass onto me so that I can thrive again! Is not that an amazing reason to go totally nuts right now?!
* wine region in Portugal... in winter vines go to sleep, but leave us a little present: beautiful, vibrant red and yellow leaves.
Vegan and No-Bake Granola Bars for Breakfast. Recipe
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Makes: 8 granola bars
150g (5.3oz) fresh dates without pips
80g (2.8oz) creamy peanut puree (or butter)
70g (2.5oz) roasted or raw almonds
70g (2.5oz) roasted or raw hazelnuts
60g (2.1oz) organic dried apricots
(You can add 1-2 tbsp of honey or maple syrup, but be careful not to make your bars too sweet. I find my bars so sweet and yummy without any additional sugar.)
Making the bars:
1. Put the dates in the food processor or smoothie maker and mill until smooth and even. It usually takes me about 15 seconds until dates start rolling into a ball. Separately, chop dried apricots into nice solid chunks, not too small as you want to taste them. I also crush nuts, but just a bit with a knife.
2. In a separate bowl mix all ingredients with a wooden spoon or a spatula:
3. Take a small baking tray, cover it with baking paper and spread out the mixture. It is completely up to you how thick you want your granola bars to be. The ticker they are the more pieces you can cut them into later. What you need to do though is press the mixture very well, not leaving any air or space, making it uniformly flattened. I use a glass for water and my hands to do that.
4. Now cover the tray with more baking paper and put into the fridge for 15-20 minutes until the substance gets a bit harder.
5. Take the baking paper with the mixture from the form and carefully cut into pieces. You can keep the bars in the fridge for 3-4 days or even freeze them and eat much later.
These granola bars are so delicious and filling up! Sometimes I look back at the times when there was no space for nuts in my life... and I really do not know how I have lived without them. So, if you are still not converted to these yummy and mighty gifts from nature, you should hurry to fill up your cupboards with as many nuts as you can and you will see how quickly your life changes for good!