Sweet Sundays: It has been well over a decade since I last set foot in a classroom, and at last the nightmares about not graduating and missing class have ceased. Oh come now, you all know what I am talking about? In fact, lately my memories of school have turned up. For example, I seem to be fantasizing a lot about those big blueberry muffins that our school cafeteria used to bake fresh daily during the morning break. Not the healthiest mid-morning snack to say the least, but boy were they good. Of course, I couldn't splurge on those muffins everyday. Some days I came equipped with my own prepackaged granola bar with all of its "formulated" ingredients. Now if I had possessed a healthier homemade option that was equally tasty, then I may not have felt like falling asleep at my desk before the lunch bell rang.
Where was Hannah with her arsenal of portable recipes back when I needed something energizing but a bit sweet? Rather than baking a snack with refined grains and sugars, she switched to a variety of whole grains and natural sweeteners for the hearty bars below. In this recipe, she uses date syrup and date sugar, but if they are hard for you to locate, you can sub other natural sweeteners as I have noted below to keep them equally wholesome …
Double Date Chocolate Chip Bars
Thinking more towards healthy sweets, this date syrup seemed like the perfect thing to introduce to a crispy snack bar. Packed with wholesome things like oats, wheat germ, and puffed rice, it’s easy to excuse that little handful of chocolate chips and think of these as health food. Plus, the date syrup keeps things from being tooth-achingly sweet, so it’s hard to feel guilty about these simple little squares. Ideal for packing in a lunch box or taking along for a snack on the road, these will absolutely see a repeat performance in my kitchen sooner or later.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees, and lightly grease a 9 x 9-inch baking pan.
Place the oats, rice cereal, wheat germ, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl, and toss to combine. Set aside.
In a medium sauce pan, combine the date syrup, date sugar, and coconut oil, and set over medium heat. Cool until the sugar has dissolved, and the mixture is just on the brink of boiling. Incorporate the vanilla, and quickly pour the hot syrup into the bowl of dry goods. Mix gently but thoroughly to combine. Add in the chips and stir to distribute them through the mixture. (Adding them last helps to prevent them from melting, but if you’d prefer an all-over chocolate bar, go ahead and add them first to the syrup, let them sit for a moment to melt, and them stir everything together.)
Transfer everything into your prepared pan, and use lightly greased hands or a non-stick spatula to firmly press the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Bake for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. Let cool completely in the pan before turning out onto a cutting board and slicing into bars.
Makes 16 – 25 Bars