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Vegan & Gluten-Free Chocolate Orange Date Bars

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Of all the healthy or natural ways you can sweeten your desserts, dates is definitely my favorite…by far! And I won’t be surprised if many would agree with me. I add them to smoothies, pancake batters, brownies, cookies, mamoul…and of course date balls! I don’t think a day passes without me having dates in some form or another. I’m having one right now with my coffee while writing these words…
So these bars are vegan and gluten-free, especially if using gluten-free oats. You can definitely change things up in terms of flavor by removing the orange zest, adding some cardamom or aniseed for example. You can leave out the walnuts or use hazelnuts or pecans instead. They are perfect with your coffee for breakfast, or as a snack in the afternoon.
Other pointers about ingredients and replacements; any liquid sweeter can be used to replace the maple syrup. I would expect any nut butter to work, bearing in mind it would change the flavor slightly (I’m sure in a good way, next time might add some healthy nutella). Coconut milk instead of cream should be fine, just use the canned milk that has more fat, and not the ones in the carton. The 1 cup walnuts used in the base can be toasted or not, it’s up to you. Toasting them brings our their flavor more.
To make apple sauce, simply peel and slice 2 apples and place in a sauce pan with a tablespoon of water. Let simmer until the apples are soft. Blend until smooth. Let cool before storing in the fridge for up to 5 days. I show how to make it in this muffins video (Arabic only). Apple sauce works as a replacement for eggs in plant-based recipes, and can also add sweetness and moisture. Make a batch and use it to make these bars as well as Morning Glory Cookies, Morning Glory Muffins, and Sweet Potato Muffins. Also great to use in pancakes and waffles.
Recipe adapted from My New Roots

Vegan & Gluten-Free Chocolate Orange Date Bars

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Cook Time: 0min
|prep Time: 0min
| total Time: 0min
| servings: 0

Makes 12-16 bars
Ingredients: 
Crust
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 cup raw walnuts, toasted
  • 2 cups rolled oats, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Filling
  • 300g pitted soft dates
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream
  • 3/4 cup raw walnuts, chopped

Instructions: 
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F or 160C. Prepare an 8 or 9 inch square baking pan (or the equivalent) and line with parchment paper. Place on a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. Mix the chia seeds with 1/4 cup of water. Set aside for 10 minutes to turn into a gel.
  3. Place 1 cup of oats in a food processor, and process to turn into a flour. Then add 1 cup of walnuts, and process until the walnuts are ground. Transfer the ground oats and walnuts to a bowl, add the rest of the oats, baking powder and salt. Mix to combine. Then and the apple sauce, maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla. Stir well. You may need to use your hands at this point to make sure everything is well mixed. You will have around 500g of crust. Use about 330g for the base and reserve 170g for the topping. Or just eyeball it using 2/3s for the base, and a 1/3 for the topping.
  4. Press the crust for the base into the prepared baking pan, making sure it’s nice and even. Set aside while you make the filling.
  5. In a food processor, place all the filling ingredients (except the walnuts!). Process until it’s as smooth as you would like. It’s okay if it’s a little chunky. Spoon all over the base, and spread evenly. Sprinkle with the remaining crust, dropping it into clumps, followed by the chopped walnuts. Press down gently just to make sure the topping adheres to the filling.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool completely before slicing and serving.

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