Upon returning home from Thailand with just a few baht knocking around in my account, it was time to start earning some moolah to fund my next, dare I say it, gap year adventure. This six week professional culinary course is not going to pay for itself. So my search for a job began and ended very swiftly, with a position as a waitress at my all time favourite beach cafe, the Wayside. Since the age of ten, their humble dish of Cumberland sausages, mashed potato an onion gravy blew my tiny mind and has had a special place in my heart ever since.
The frankly ginormous benefit from working there is the permanently filled to the brim dessert fridge. Laden with banoffee pie, carrot cake, millionaire shortbread, raspberry and passion fruit roulade, brownies, cookies, muffins…the list goes on, makes it a disaster zone for furtive nibbles and sugar highs. When the banoffee pie whipped cream topping does the old seismic shift, you end up with a slice-and-a-bit. That bit cannot end its life in the bin! It just wouldn’t be right.
So to cut a long story shot, these mixed nut energy bars are an answer to the sugary temptations. Realistically, the only thing that actually stops me from digging into freshly baked bakewell slices every day is constantly chewing gum, (Extra bubblegum flavour, whatever else?!). If you fancy a homemade snack bar that is crunchy, sweet, chewy and satisfying, then look no further. Use up all the spare nuts you may have knocking about in the larder (we had a tonne of brazil nuts, sitting waiting to be eaten after reading an article about selenium poisoning) and get to baking these easy as pie, super healthy, nutrient packed, cheaper than shop bought energy bars. Phew.
Ingredients (makes 12 bars)
- 90g honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 30g ground almonds
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp nut butter
- 170g nuts, roughly chopped
- 8 dates, chopped
- 100g seeds and dried fruit
Preheat the oven to 150°C and line an 8 inch square baking tin with greaseproof paper. Mix together the honey, vanilla extract, ground almonds, salt and nut butter (I used almond, my all time fave) together in a large bowl until smooth.
Roughly chop your choice of nuts into bitesize pieces. My combo this time was almonds, brazils and walnuts. You can by all means be a nut puritan, and use but one choice of nut.Chop your dates. Don’t waste your precious earnings on the Deliciously Ella endorsed Medjool dates, just buy the cheap ones in the baking aisle. They taste just as lovely in salads, too. I promise!Fold in the chopped nuts, dates and seeds and dried fruits of your choice. You can see that I went for a mixture of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and redder than red goji berries (this is what I sprinkle on my breakfast every morn – bought in bulk separately and mixed together. It lasts for weeks in jars and is much cheaper than buying the miniature sized mixed packets.) You can use anything you like! Raisins are recommended if you’re on a budget. Pop the mixture onto your prepare baking pan and press down using a spatula to spread it evenly into the corners. Try to pack it down as tightly as possible, with no potential break inducing gaps.Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, remove and make sure to let it cool on a wire rack for one hour. Before attempting to remove them from the pan, let it all firm up and stick together properly in the fridge overnight. Use the overhang of the greaseproof paper to pop the slab onto a chopping board the following day, and expertly slice into bars.Expertly meaning not like me, with the bars getting progressively wider as you move across to the right! These fantastically healthy treats last for a whole two weeks wrapped up in the fridge, so there is no reason to freeze them, unless you make a shedload and do not have an army on hand to feed. These are the most perfectly nifty bars to shove into your bag for a long shift, as they’ll keep you going with fruit and nut power all day long. Look down upon those overpriced Nakd, 9 and Trek bars, and make some homemade alternatives that taste that much better because you made them with your own fair hands. Let me know in the comments below of any of your favourite healthy snack ideas! Carrot cake energy bites are a permanent fixture in my fridge too, but they aren’t particularly transportable and get squashed on even the shortest journey.