Cranberry Chia Endurance Bars

In these last few weeks, we have been treated to some gloriously warm weather. We’ve been able to get out climbing every few days and enjoy warm bike rides in the sun – it’s been fantastic! With these days filled with activities, it’s always nice to keep some extra snacks in the freezer for when we know we’ll be doing a lot. Enter our latest granola bar rendition – Cranberry Chia Endurance Bars. This tasty, portable snack has kept us fueled through our first few climbing days of the season.

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These cranberry chia endurance bars have a few great attributes:

  • No refined sugar: These bars use a combination of super sweet Medjool dates as the sticky base, along with dried fruit (cranberries, in this case) and coconut for added sweetness.
  • Good carbs and protein: Rolled oats are a great source of complex carbohydrates, protein and fibre, as are the chia seeds. Both help to ensure your energy levels stay high throughout the day.
  • Anti-cramping secret: Coconut water!! We love this stuff. It’s a great source natural of potassium and electrolytes, and we’ve found it helps us avoid leg cramps after a big day of exercise.

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So here’s the deal with these bars:

You start off by soaking some Medjool dates in the coconut water until they’re really soft (maybe 15 or 20 minutes, depending on how soft your dates are to start). Then you give them a good whiz in the blender or food processor until you end up with a sticky date paste.

Throw in the chia seeds and let that mixture gel while you’re prepping the rest of the mixture.

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For the main granola bar ingredients:

Grab some oats (large flake or quick cook), seeds (I used pumpkin) and nuts (I used walnuts and cashews). These get toasted over a medium heat until they start to get nice and fragrant.

Then, into a bowl they go, along with some dried fruit (cranberries and coconut are always a good pair) and the chia-date puree.

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I’ll say a few things about these bars. If you’re looking for a crunchy, stick-together granola bar, this is not the bar for you. Even after baking, these cranberry chia endurance bars are still fairly soft and, depending on your ingredients, have a tendency to crumble. This is not a deal-breaker in my book, however. We pack these into a small tub and nibble away at them throughout the day.

If you want a nice neat bar, just make sure to chop up your nuts and seeds so they are fairly small in size. This will definitely help make the bars stick together.

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Hopefully you’ll enjoy these bars as much as we do! They also make a great pseudo granola – just crumble them over your favourite yogurt for a little breakfast treat.

Cranberry Chia Endurance Bars
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Snacks
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Adapted from the Power Hungry cookbook.
Ingredients
  • 125 g (3/4 cup, about 8 large) soft pitted medjool dates, roughly chopped
  • ⅔ cup coconut water
  • 60 g (1/3 cup) chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 165 g (1½ cups) rolled oats
  • 70 g (1/2 cup) pumpkin seeds
  • 45 g (1/2 cup) walnuts, chopped into small pieces
  • 70 g (1/2 cup) cashews, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 70 g (1/2 cup) dried unsweetened cranberries
  • 30 g (1/2 cup) unsweetened flaked coconut
Instructions
To make the chia-date puree:
  1. Place the chopped pitted dates and coconut water into a high-speed blender and allow them to soak and soften for at least 15 minutes. After this time, puree the mixture until smooth.
  2. Add the chia seeds and vanilla extract and pulse briefly to combine.
  3. Let this mixture set for 10 minutes, to gel.
To make the endurance bars:
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the coconut oil until melted. Add the oats, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and cashews and stir to combine. Toast the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until the mixture becomes fragrant. Add the cinnamon and salt and stir briefly.
  2. In a large bowl, add the oat mixture, cranberries, flaked coconut and chia-date puree. Stir to thoroughly combine.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F and line a 9 x 9-inch pan with parchment paper.
  4. Spoon the oat mixture into the prepared pan and press it down firmly to flatten. You may want to use a wet spatula to firmly press the granola mixture down.
  5. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until the top of the mixture looks dry and lightly browned.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow the bars to cool completely, in the pan.
  7. Once completely cold, remove the bars from the pan using the edge of the parchment paper. Use a sharp knife to cut the bars into the size of your liking.
Notes
For bars that stick together very well, make sure to chop all your nuts and seeds into small pieces.
These bars freeze very well. Cut them into bars, wrap well with parchment paper and store them in a freezer-friendly ziplock bag.

Enjoy these Cranberry Chia Endurance Bars!

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Raw Mint Chocolate Mini Pies

Happy Pi Day! Two years ago, we were travelling and made a chocolate strawberry tart in the RV. Last year, we turned to flaky puff pastry for these apple-walnut hand pies. This year, we’ve strayed from the fruit-based pies and made these decadent, but healthy, mint chocolate mini pies! In my humble opinion, the flavour combination of mint + chocolate is one of the best 🙂

While there’s a time and a place for full-sized desserts, I also appreciate the smaller ones, made for a household of two.

These mint chocolate mini pies are perfect for a few different reasons:

  • They’re easy to make and don’t require an oven, meaning they’re as good to eat during the wet rainy months as the sweltering hot ones!
  • Because they’re raw, there’s no chance of a pastry crust getting soggy as it sits. This means that these pies will keep in the fridge for longer than a day!
  • If you like to keep your sweets to a minimum during the week, you can cut each mini pie in half (or smaller) and enjoy a bite or two each evening.
  • They taste rich and decadent, yet are filled with great-for-you ingredients. With no added sugar and lots of antioxidant-rich ingredients, these pies are basically health food! 😉

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The only tool needed to make these is a good food processor or high-speed blender. The crust is made out of Medjool dates, walnuts, coconut and cacao powder, processed until it forms a sticky ball. We don’t have little tart pans, so our trusty muffin tin becomes the workhorse of our small-batch dessert creations.

A little tip for you:

The crust mixture is VERY sticky. To avoid dealing with the frustration of trying to get the crust to stick to the pan, and not to your fingers, I’d suggest lining the muffin tin with plastic wrap, or parchment paper. I found that one big piece of wrap worked well – you can line 4 muffin tins quite easily, and use the hangover to press the crust mixture into the muffin tin. No messy fingers!

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The filling is made up of soaked (and drained) cashews, maple syrup, cacao powder and peppermint extract. So easy, yet so wonderfully tasty! This gets spooned into the tart bases and everything chills in the fridge until you’re ready to eat them.

I made these a few days ago, and they really do hold up well in the fridge. As they sit, they almost take on a fudgy consistency, which I totally love, yet completely melt in your mouth as you eat them.

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Whether you’re a physics geek or not, I hope you’re enjoying Pi Day as much as we are!

Raw Mint Chocolate Mini Pies
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
These Mint Chocolate Mini Pies are raw, vegan and gluten-free, making them great for everyone to enjoy!
Ingredients
For the tart crust:
  • 100 g Medjool dates, pitted (1/2 cup, about 6 dates)
  • 25 g (1/2 cup) unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 35 g (1/3 cup) walnut pieces
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of sea salt
For the filling:
  • ½ cup cashews, soaked in ½ cup water for at least 3 to 4 hours
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ to 1 tsp pure peppermint extract
  • 1 tbsp water, if needed
Instructions
  1. Soak the cashews in ½ cup of water, for at least 3 to 4 hours. When ready to use, drain and rinse the cashews, discarding the soaking liquid.
  2. Make the tart crust by placing all ingredients into a food processor or high-speed blender and pulse together, until you have a thick, sticky mixture.
  3. Line a muffin tin with plastic wrap and evenly distribute the crust mixture into 4 muffin cups. Use wet hands or additional plastic wrap, to press the crust mixture into the bottom and sides of the muffin tin to create a little bowl shape.
  4. Keep the prepared muffin tin in the fridge until you make the filling.
  5. To make the mint chocolate filling, place the drained cashews, maple syrup, cacao powder and peppermint extract into a food processor or high-speed blender and puree until completely smooth. Start with ½ tsp of peppermint extract and taste. Add more if you like a stronger taste. The mixture should be thick but spreadable. Add water, a tablespoon at a time, until you reach this consistency.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the tart shells and refrigerate until ready to eat.
  7. to serve, sprinkle with a good-quality salt (like Maldon) and additional chopped walnuts.
Notes
These tarts will last in the fridge for at least a week, and longer in the freezer.

Enjoy these Mint Chocolate Mini Pies!

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Cherry Chocolate Protein Bars

When I have a bit of down time in the evenings or on the weekend, I like to make batches of snacks that we can keep in the freezer for hunger-emergencies. These Cherry Chocolate Protein Bars are one of our current favourites.

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We’ve started our climbing strength-training phase again recently. This means a lot of finger-strength training on the hangboard as well as lots of general strength training at the fitness gym (core, pull-ups, squats, plyometric stuff) and general strength training in the van (lifting ceiling panels, hanging cabinets ;)).

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On the days that we hangboard train, we start at the climbing gym to warm up the fingers with 20 to 30 minutes of continuous climbing. We warm up each finger position we will be training afterwards (4-finger half-crimps down to 1-finger hangs) and use this time to work on our movement and general technique. Then, it’s a 25 minute trundle back home to finish up using our hangboard.

During our drive home, it’s often nice to have a little nibble of something to tie us over until all the training is done and we can sit down for dinner. Portable snacks like these cherry chocolate protein bars are often just what we’re looking for. They’re really tasty and give us a great boost of energy.

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There are a few great things about these cherry chocolate protein bars:

  • There is no need for an oven – just an hour or so in the fridge, to firm up.
  • They handle substitutions easily – add your favourite combination of nuts / seeds / dried fruit.
  • They freeze really well – making them a great snack to last you a few weeks.
  • There’s no added sugar, just the sweetness from the maple syrup and dates.
  • They just taste good!!

If you’re in the market for a great snack, give these bars a try. They’re vegan (if you swing that way), gluten-free (make sure to use gluten-free oats), kid-friendly (swap in almond butter, if you’re peanut-sensitive) and fitness friendly (a great source of good carbs and protein). There’s also no added sugar – just the natural sweetness from the dates and maple syrup.

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Hopefully you’ll find these bars as useful to have around the house as we do!

Cherry Chocolate Protein Bars
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Snacks
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Adapted from the Power Hungry cookbook.
Ingredients
  • 150 g (1 cup) pitted Medjool dates (about 10 big dates)
  • 1 cup of warm water, to soak the dates
  • 115 g (1 cup) large-flake oats
  • 60 g (1½ cup) crispy brown rice cereal
  • 30 g (1/4 cup) walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 30 g (1/4 cup) dried unsweetened cherries
  • 15 g (2 tbsp) ground flax seeds
  • 120 g (1/2 cup) natural peanut butter
  • 105 g (1/3 cup) pure maple syrup
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Soak the pitted Medjool dates in 1 cup of warm water, until they have softened. This could take anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes, depending on how soft your dates are to start.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, brown rice cereal, walnuts, dried cherries and flax seeds.
  3. Drain the Medjool dates and use a food processor or high-speed blender to process until they are finely chopped. Add them to the oat mixture.
  4. In a small sauce pan, combine the peanut butter and maple syrup and bring to a soft boil over medium-low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  5. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the oat mix and stir until all ingredients are completely combined. This may take quite a few stirs. Add in the chocolate chips and stir until they are incorporated.
  6. Line a 9x9-inch pan with parchment paper and spoon the mixture into the pan. Press the oat mixture firmly into the pan and smooth the top with the back of a spatula.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, until the bars have set and are firm to the touch.
  8. Use the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan and cut into bars.
Notes
These bars freeze very well. Cut the bars first, then wrap in saran wrap before placing them into a freezer bag.

Enjoy these Cherry Chocolate Protein Bars!

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