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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Whole Wheat Za’atar Flatbread

As a gift from food-loving friends, we were given a 6-month subscription to the Raw Spice Bar. Every month we get three new spice blends in the mail, along with a variety of recipes to try them out with. Each month often focuses on a different ethnic region, and last month was filled with flavours of Navajo cuisine. We tried a few of the recipes (the posole was fantastic!) and the sumac za’atar spice blend had me super-excited. I baked a batch of whole-wheat za’atar flatbread and loved the flavour!

Sumac is a spice predominant in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. It has a wonderful, lemony flavour and brightens whatever dish it’s added to. Note to self: I really need to find my own source!

Za’atar is a mixture of spices, which starts with sumac and adds in sesame seeds and thyme. So, I just need to double my efforts in finding sumac, and the rest will fall into place 🙂

Flatbread is one of the easiest types of yeasted breads to make. You still have to play the waiting game, to give the dough time for an initial rise, but the baking time is quick compared to a standard loaf of bread (like sub 10 minutes). And because it’s a flat bread, you don’t have to worry about the bread not rising enough 🙂 Your house will smell amazing and your tummy will be filled with better-than-bought carbs.

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We ripped our za’atar flatbread into pieces and used it for dipping into a trio of spreads: homemade hummus, our weekly staple roasted beet dip, and a concoction of our red curry paste + yogurt + peanut butter. The flatbread also makes awesome, carby tacos and wraps.

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If you’ve never made bread before, but would like to ease into the world of yeasted baking, earmark this recipe for the weekend. Even without the za’atar spice-blend, a glug of olive oil and a sprinkle of your favourite spices (even just sea salt!) will ensure this flatbread tastes superb.

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Whole Wheat Za'atar Flatbread
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Snacks
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Flatbread is one of the easiest yeasted breads to make. In no time, your house will be filled with the wonderful aroma of freshly-baked bread.
Ingredients
  • 115 g (1/2 cup) warm water
  • ¼ tsp sugar
  • 4 g (1/2 pkg) instant yeast
  • 135 g (1 cup + 2 tbsp) bread flour
  • 45 g (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp) whole wheat flour
  • 3 g (1 tsp) sea salt
  • 15 g (1 tbsp) olive oil
  • 2 tbsp za'atar spice blend (or make your own using a recipe like this)
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the warm water, sugar and yeast. Let it sit for 5 minutes, until it starts to foam and bubble. If this doesn't happen, the yeast may not be active anymore, and you will have to start with fresh yeast.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the bread flour, whole-wheat flour and salt. Add in the yeast mixture and knead briefly with the dough hook, until the dough just starts to come together. Let the dough rest 5 minutes, in order to allow the flour to hydrate fully.
  3. Using a dough hook (or by hand), knead for 6 to 7 minutes, until the dough turns into a soft, supple ball. Press a finger into the dough - the dough should stick to your finger for a moment, but then release. If the dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour, 1 tbsp a a time, until it reaches this consistency. If the dough is too dry, add water (1 tbsp at a time), until you have the right consistency.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to a clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover with a cotton dish towel. Place in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 30 to 60 minutes.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 400 F and line an overturned baking tray with parchment paper.
  6. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Lightly dust a counter top with flour and use a rolling pin to roll each piece of dough into a thin (3 to 5 mm) oblong shape. Place the rolled dough onto the parchment-lined tray. Spread ½ tsp of olive oil onto the top of each piece, and sprinkle with 2 tsp of za'atar spice blend. Allow the dough to rise while the oven is heating up.
  7. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms of the flatbread turn a golden brown.
  8. Serve with your favourite dips or spreads.
Notes
The flatbread are best served warm. They will keep in the freezer, wrapped in a freezer-proof bag, for up to a month.

Enjoy the whole wheat za’atar flatbread!

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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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Chewy Peanut Protein Pick-Me-Up Bars

I was having a clean-out-the-pantry moment a few weeks ago. We have a glorified closet that I like to call our pantry. It’s quite deep, and sometimes things get lost back there, not often, but it happens. In this purging moment, I found some brown rice crisp cereal, a bag of unopened flax seeds, and a jar of peanut butter. How the peanut butter escaped us, is beyond me! But out of these few ingredients, came these protein bars. Jonty and I have coined them as Chewy Peanut Protein Pick-Me-Up bars. And they are true to their name!

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Truth be told, the real reason I was “cleaning” was because I wanted to make some post-climbing and mid-training snacks, and I really didn’t want to have to leave the house for ingredients. Thank goodness for long-lost jars of nut-butter! We’ve been entering local bouldering competitions over the last few weeks and it’s great to have bite-sized snacks to munch on when we feel the need for a little boost of energy. I don’t like buying protein bars because (1) they’re often super expensive, and (2) I can usually make something equally tasty!

These bars are perfect for our needs. They don’t require baking (just a stove-top, for bringing a few ingredients to the boil) and they keep really well in the freezer. We absolutely love the flavour of them, and they pack a great energy-boosting punch!

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The perks of these Chewy Peanut Protein Pick-Me-Up bars:

  • Boost of energy: Oats make up the bulk of these bars, providing lots of fibre and slow-burning carbs for when your energy is running low.
  • Lots of seeds: Chia, pumpkin, sunflower and flax seeds pack in a great boost of protein, fibre and a whole host of vitamins and minerals.
  • No refined sugar: Only pure maple syrup and dried cranberries in these bad boys.
  • No baking required: Total bonus, when the oven is being used for other important things.
  • Easy, portable snacks: Cut them into bars or roll them into balls.

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I’ve made these several times this season, and they don’t disappoint! They’re great to keep in the freezer, for those times when you need a quick afternoon snack, or fuel for a great climbing session.

Chewy Peanut Protein Pick-Me-Up Bars
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Snacks
These bars are based on the general protein bar format from the Power Hungry cookbook.,
Ingredients
  • 180 g (1½ cups) large-flake oats
  • 40 g (1 cup) crispy brown rice cereal (likethis)
  • 55 g (2/3 cup, lightly packed) unflavoured protein powder
  • 40 g (1/4 cup) chia seeds
  • 40 g (1/4 cup) pumpkin seeds
  • 40 g (1/4 cup) sunflower seeds
  • 40 g (1/4 cup) flax seeds
  • 15 g (1/4 cup) unsweetened large-flake coconut
  • 70 g (1/2 cup) dried, unsweetened cranberries
  • 155 g (1/2 cup) pure maple syrup
  • 120 g (1/2 cup) smooth, unsalted, natural peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, cereal, protein powder, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds and dried cranberries.
  2. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, whisk together the maple syrup, peanut butter and milk. Whisk occasionally until the mixture just starts to boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  3. Pour the peanut mixture over the oats mixture and mix very well until everything is completely combined.
  4. Transfer the mixture into a parchment-lined 9x9-inch square pan and use the back of a spatula to spread out the mixture and flatten until it is smooth on top.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until firm and set. Cut into squares.
Notes
These bars freeze very well and do not require any thawing before eating.

The bars are quite sticky at room temperature, so it is best to keep them in the fridge or freezer. If they will be at room temperature for a long period of time, individually wrap them in parchment or waxed paper.

Enjoy the Chewy Peanut Protein Pick-Me-Up Bars!

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Carrot-Cranberry Snacking Cake

I know the words Healthy and Cake are often mutually exclusive. But in this case, I’m going out on a limb and stating, for the record, that I think this Carrot-Cranberry snacking cake is a wonderfully healthy cake. We’re not vegan or vegetarian (although this cake falls into both categories), and we don’t completely shun the sweet treats (although we’re pretty good at limiting those to the weekends). However, every now and then, it’s nice to bake something that we can nibble on during the week that is healthy yet feels like a treat.

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This cake has no refined sugar and relies mainly on the natural sweetness of the fruits and vegetables you put into it. I made this a few weeks ago, sliced it up, and tucked it away in the freezer to nibble on when cravings strike. It’s lasted beautifully and, dare I say, the flavour even improved as it sat!

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With every bite, I’m sure I sound like a broken record, repeatedly telling Jonty that I still can’t believe there is nothing “unhealthy” in this cake! I first saw this in the My New Roots cookbook. If you don’t have it, I would urge you to give it a browse. There are so many great recipes in there, all plant-based, but easy to modify if you want to include other meat additions.

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In the cookbook, this was intended as a loaf. Aside from turning it into a snacking-cake recipe, I also decreased the amount of maple syrup and added toasted coconut. Both were well-received 🙂

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We love a nice tart treat, thus this snacking cake was an instant hit: the balance of the sweet and tart being just right, when you think the fresh cranberries are going to be too sour, you get a hit of sweetness from the roasted carrot and maple syrup. Being chock-full of vitamins A and C and numerous health-promoting antioxidants, doesn’t hurt, either!

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I tell you, this is most definitely something you can eat for breakfast and not feel guilty about! Let us know how it turns out for you 🙂

Carrot-Cranberry Snacking Cake
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Snacks, Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Based on the Carrot-Cranberry Loaf from My New Roots
Ingredients
  • 14 g (1 tbsp) chia seeds
  • 80 g (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 55 g (1/4 cup) melted coconut oil
  • 120 g (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp) pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp grated orange zest
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 180 g (1½ cups) sprouted spelt flour
  • 50 g (1/2 cups) large-flake oats
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground, dried ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 140 g (1½ cups, or 2 medium) grated carrots
  • 80 g (3/4 cup) fresh or frozen cranberries (not dried)
  • 15 g (1/4 cup) large flake coconut, toasted
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 360 F and grease an 8 x 8 inch pan, or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the chia seeds and milk and leave to sit for 15 minutes or so, until the mixtures starts to gel.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, oats, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, baking powder and sea salt). Add in the grated carrot and stir to combine.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil, maple syrup, orange zest and vanilla. Pour in the chia seed and milk mixture and whisk to combine.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Add in the fresh cranberries and toasted coconut flakes and mix.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared 8 x 8 inch pan.
  7. Bake at 360 F for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle, comes out clean.
  8. Let the cake cool in the par 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.
Notes
I baked this cake at 360 F, because our oven runs cool. If you bake at 350 F, you might have to increase the bake time slightly.

This cake freezes extremely well. Allow to cool completely, then cut into slices, wrap well and store in the freezer in a sealed ziplock bag.

Enjoy!

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