Kick off the week with home made energy bars, with a recipe from Tara O’Brady’s cook book: Seven Spoons. It is slightly tampered, but you are also encouraged to experiment with your favorite cereal, nuts and seeds. These make great after-school snacks or on-the-run breakfast bars. And if you form them into little balls rather than pressing them into bars, they become healthy macaroons.
1 cup shelled raw peanuts
1/4 cup hulled sunflower seeds
1 packed cup plump pitted dates
1/2 cup dried blueberries, cranberries, cherries or a mix
1 tablespoon premium thyme honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon or orange zest
1 tablespoon mixed seeds (like black and white sesame, hemp hearts, ground flaxseed and ground chia)
Line a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, laying one sheet of plastic across the length of the pan and one sheet across the width of the pan, so the two form a cross.
In a large, dry skillet over medium heat, lightly toast the peanuts, stirring often, until light gold and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Add sunflower seeds in the last minute of toasting. Transfer to a plate to cool.
In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, coarsely grind the nut mixture. Add dates, dried berries, honey, vanilla, salt and citrus zest, and process until the dates are finely chopped and fully incorporated into the nut mixture. Stop and clear the sides of the bowl regularly.
If needed, drop in a little warm water so that the mixture holds together. It shouldn’t be overly sticky, just moist enough to be pressed into a bar. Pulse in the mixed seeds.
Press the mixture into an even layer in the prepared pan. Pull the excess plastic wrap up and over the layer, then press to compact and to level the top. If possible, press another pan into the first, weighting it down with a can. Refrigerate until fairly firm, about 30 minutes. Cut into 9 short one-inch-wide bars. Wrap each bar in plastic wrap or waxed paper, then keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days, or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks (or in the freezer for up to 2 months.)