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November 14, 2016

Whole Grain Date Bars

by Anne Paddock

Dates are often thought of as nature’s candy with the Medjool variety considered one of the finest there is. Large, sweet, and creamy, the Medjool is the perfect fruit to eat as is or in a recipe for Whole Grain Date Bars:  a crunchy applesauce-sweetened cinnamon oat crust covered in cooked dates and topped with more crunchy oat crumble. There is no added sugar in this recipe because the dates add enough sweetness to the bars. With their soft and chewy texture between two layers of crunchy oat crumble, the dates are the star of the show and – as with most stars – they shine brightest in their simplicity.Whole_Grain_Date_Bars

Whole Grain Date Bars

  • 2 cups whole grain oats (not instant or steel cut)
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 8 ounces pitted Medjool dates (about 15 extra large or jumbo)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 walnuts, chopped

Whole_Grain_Date_BarsPreheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9 x 9 pan or similar size with parchment paper or spray with non-stick spray.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the oats, flaxseed meal, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to blend. Add the  applesauce and 1 cup of the water to the oat mixture and stir to blend. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow the liquid to be absorbed. The oat mixture will be thick.

Firmly press half of the oat mixture into the prepared pan with a spoon or spatula, leaving the remaining to crumble over the top later.

In a medium-sized saucepan, place the remaining 1/2 cup water, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Stir and turn the heat on medium. Add the pitted dates and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly to break down the dates to make a thick date paste (about 3-4 minutes once the mixture starts simmering). Remove the date paste from the heat and spread the mixture evenly over the oatmeal crust with a spatula. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the date mixture. Top with the remaining oat mixture and gently press with the spatula.

Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool thoroughly. Cut into squares and serve. Store at room temperature.Whole-Grain_Date_Bar

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