Now that the weather is warming up, who wants to use their oven? Spring and Summer are all about easy-to-make snacks you can store in the fridge or pantry, grab, go and enjoy.
There’s honestly nothing easier than energy bars/protein balls/bliss balls… whatever you want to call them. Simply throw your nuts, seeds, dried fruit and various flavorings into a food processor, give it a whizz, roll out into balls or press out into a container. Eat them straight away, or chill until hard and dip them in chocolate (this recipe involves the latter).
The best thing about these type of snacks is that they’re appropriate for any time of day. No time for breakfast? Have one, or two. Falling asleep at your desk at 3pm? This snack is perfect. Need a sweet-fix after dinner? Munch away! I’m sure many of us are a little dried-fruit phobic, but all of the good healthy fats from the cashews, coconut and sunflower seeds help to slow down the release of the sugars in the fruit, so you won’t crash and burn. With 10 slices per making, you’re only getting approximately half a date and half a dried fig anyway, so it’s nothing to worry about.
Believe it or not, but dried fruit can actually be your friend– dried figs especially, are really high in iron and together with the spirulina, the bars in this recipe are basically a blood tonic.
Spirulina is somewhat of a wonder weed. A mere tablespoon (approx 4 teaspoons– something that’s achievable through a week) provides 4 grams of protein, 2mg of iron, is high in B-vitamins and packs a nice dose of copper. Spirulina is a great addition to any diet, but a plant-based one especially. Any plant-based food that is rich in both protein and iron goes straight to my ‘must-eat’ list. Unfortunately Spirulina doesn’t taste very delicious. Yes, it’s easy to hide it in smoothies, but if you add too much, it can become very hard to swallow said smoothie. I love adding Spirulina to any kind of energy bar/bliss ball that’s filled with delicious sweet fruit and creamy fats from nuts and seeds because it completely masks the flavour and just colours your creation with a lovely sea-green hue.
Figs are another great source of iron. You only need to eat about two to yield 2mg of iron, which is a quarter of our daily intake (you have my permission to eat two Fig, Coconut and Spirulina Bars daily to ensure you meet this iron requirement). Iron has the very important job of transporting and storing oxygen around the body and plays a role in our ability to produce energy. The consequences of low iron cause us to feel tired because we physically don’t have enough oxygen circulating around the body and we struggle to produce the energy we need to go about our busy lives.
While red meat, lentils and molassess are probably the top high-iron foods that come to mind, don’t dismiss figs. Figs are unique to these foods because they also contain fructose. Yes, fructose is the type of sugar in fruit and processed foods that converts to fat in the liver, but it actually assists the body with iron absorption too. I really don’t mean to confuse you, but sometimes the facts are confusing! The key message here is moderation and that yes, both figs and Spirulina are nice sources of plant-based iron.
- 1 cup cashews
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 6 dried figs
- 4 medjool dates
- 1 tsp vanilla powder
- 1-2 tsp spirulina (if you're already used to eating it, go for two)
- heavy pinch of salt
- 25g cacao butter, finely chopped
- 3 tblsp coconut oil
- 1/4 cup cacao powder
- 2 tblsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- heavy pinch salt
- Place cashews, coconut and sunflower seeds together in a food processor and process on high for about 1 minute until a fine meal comes together.
- Add all other ingredients and process again for 1-2 minutes, until the mixture comes together.
- Press the dough between your fingers– it should feel sticky. You may need to add a tablespoon of water and re-process.
- Press the mixture out into a lined container or baking dish of about 15cm x 15cm and place into the freezer for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, place the cacao butter and coconut oil into a double boiler, or in a small bowl over large bowl filled with boiling water. Cacao butter and coconut oil melt at body temperature, so it won’t take long.
- When melted, add in the maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and salt, give the mixture a good mix, then add in the cacao powder and mix again– I like to use a whisk so the mixture is even and glossy.
- Remove the Coconut, Fig and Spirulina Bars from the freezer and cut into pieces– it should yield at least 10 bars.
- Begin by lining a baking tray with baking paper, then dip a section of each bar into the chocolate mixture and lay out onto the prepared tray. Repeat until all bars are covered.
- Freeze the bars for 25 minutes, and if desired, re-dip the bars into the chocolate so you get a nice thick covering (this comes highly recommended by me– I like to do it about 3 times).