Vegan, gluten-free protein bars

I am the ultimate snacker, grazing on food between meals all day, so it’s important to have healthy choices to hand! I love experimenting with variations of vegan flapjacks and granola bars, packing them with nutrient-dense and energy-boosting ingredients. These dairy-free, gluten-free bars are full of plant-based protein, fibre and ‘good’ fats, and they don’t contain any butter or refined sugar. You melt the dates in a pan to create the ‘glue’ to stick everything together and the sweetness comes naturally from the fruit! The great thing about these sorts of recipes is that you can substitute or add to any of the nuts, seeds and dried fruit to suit your taste buds, try out new flavours or use up whatever you have left in the cupboard! My mum and I whipped these up on a stormy afternoon while I was staying in Okotoks and they were perfect with a cup of almond milk tea. They’d also be awesome for vegan work snacks or taken with you on a hike. Let me know what you think!

THE RECIPE

Makes roughly 20 vegan, gluten-free, protein-rich squares. 

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
By Georgina Stokes

Ingredients

  • Porridge oats - 100g or 3/4 cup
  • Medjool or deglet noor pitted dates - 250g or 1 and 1/8 cups
  • Chopped walnuts - 75g or 2/3 cup
  • Flax seeds - 150g or 1 cup
  • Chia seeds – 2tbsp
  • Dried cranberries and/or raisons and/or goji berries -75g or ½ cup
  • Flaked almonds - 50g or 2/3 cup
  • Generous sprinkle of cacao nibs or dark chocolate drops
  • Ground cinnamon - 2tsp
  • Cold water - 325ml

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C / 320F.

  2. Grease and line a tray with parchment paper – I used a 8 x 8” / 21 x 21cm tray.

  3. Tear or chop dates in half into a pan – I find it easier with scissors.

  4. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top of dates and add the water. 

  5. Bring to the boil while stirring. The dates will melt into a sticky liquid. 

  6. Once the date mixture has come to a boil and thickened, beat with a whisk or fork until mixture resembles a relatively smooth puree. (You’ll likely have some lumps still though and that’s okay!)

  7. Combine the date mixture with the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, then scoop everything into the baking tray.

  8. Squash the mixture down with the back of a wooden spoon.

  9. Bake for 30 minutes.

  10. Remove the tray and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Score with a knife, cut into squares and transfer to a container. 

Recipe Notes

Feel free to experiment with different nuts, seeds and dried fruit - whatever you have left in your cupboard!

You can also add a mashed banana, although the melted dates act as a good binder here. 

Deliciously simple recipe for vegan, gluten-free protein bars!

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