Friday, 22 April 2011

Nut bars

There are quite a few recipes for nut bars out there, most contain oatmeal and a lot of sugar which we are trying to avoid. This is a variation on many themes and after a lot of trial and error I think the quantities now give a good result. The Chocolate isn't paleo but it helps to set the bars, I have tried to make them without but they tend to be very crumbly. Living in Germany we are lucky with the availability of many discount stores such Aldi, and Lidl. I have found that Aldi has a great selection of nuts and because of the high turnover of stock they are never rancid. Try and avoid nuts from the Commissary as they are not only expensive but they are also quite old and tend to have a bitter taste. We make our own almond butter in a high powered food processor although you can also buy it ready made. The Coconut oil, we buy from the Commissary and it is expensive but will last 4 or 5 weeks, it has a gentle coconut fragrance and has many uses from skin care to health benefits.
In the refrigerated section of German supermarkets, you can buy a product called Palmin, it looks like a large Ritter sport bar and is solid coconut oil. This is odorless and is great to cook omelets or use as a replacement for vegetable oil for sauteing food. Another ingredient I use is Mila, a seed that is full of Omega 3's, we order ours online but you can also replace it in this recipe with flaxseed. This recipe looks like a lot of work, it is much easier if you have a blender or processor although in the early days I did crush/chop all nuts by hand. However, I made a batch of these last week and put them together in 10 minutes and then baked them.

Energy Nut bars

Dry Ingredients

  • 200g whole almonds with skin
  • 125g macadamia nuts
  • 175g mixed seeds (Aldi sell pine nuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds mixed together.
  • 250g sultanas/white raisins. You can substitute any dried fruit such as dried cherries or dried cranberries as long as they are not sugar coated.
  • 50g ground almonds/almond meal
  • 100g walnuts finely chopped
  • 100g pecans finely chopped
  • 50g dried flaked coconut UNSWEETENED
  • 1 heaped tablespoon Mila or flaxseed
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinammon
Liquid ingredients
  • 2 heaped tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3 heaped tablespoons almond butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1oz/25g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa or higher (do not omit this ingredient as it really helps to keep the bars from becoming too crumbly)
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • Equipment
  • Large Jelly roll pan, lined with baking paper/parchment paper (NOT wax paper)
  • Food processor/blender or lots of arm muscle, those crossfit pushups will come in handy here!!
  • large bowl.
  • Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celcius or 300 degrees Fahrenheit
  • In a food processor or blender add the almonds and macadamias and grind until they are like large breadcrumbs
  • tip these into the bowl and add the mixed seeds, sultanas, ground almonds/almond meal, dried coconut, mila/flaxseed and cinnamon.
  • Finely chop the walnuts and pecans with a sharp knife or tip them into the grinder and pulse until roughly chopped, add to other ingredients
  • In a saucepan add the liquid ingredients, break up the chocolate and gently stir over a medium heat until just melted
  • Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid, stir well until everything is well coated with the mixture (at least 1 minute)
  • add the beaten egg and again stir thoroughly, the mixture will be thick and stick together, but will still be quite loose
  • Pour the mixture into the jellyroll pan lined with baking/parchment paper, there is no need to grease the pan, the paper does all the hard work for you. Level the mixture off and press firmly into the pan
  • Bake for 25-40 minutes, each oven differs, you do not want them to be very dark brown but they need time for the ingredients to meld together.
  • When they are done, take them from the oven and cut them immediately. Try to use a knife that cuts straight down rather than trying to slice/drag it through the bars, they are still crumbly at this stage, if bits flake off press them gently back into place.
  • Allow to cool a little and then put the whole jellyroll pan into the freezer and freeze for at least 4 hours. This stage 'glues' the bars together and keeps them fresh. I actually prefer mine straight from the freezer. Once they are fully frozen, lift them from the paper and break them apart. Store in an airtight container in the freezer. If you keep them at room temperature they tend to soften after a few days. I make a batch of 24 and then pull out a few each day. For those who are not strictly paleo followers but fancy a change from eggs and bacon for breakfast, you can crumble these and eat them as a muesli type cereal with a little milk poured over them.