Hi friends! How are things going with well intended New Year's resolutions set over a week ago now? Success rates can definitely be variable, but don't be hard on yourself! Resolutions are intentions to do something differently but shouldn't be a reason to feel discouraged if you aren't always reaching (sometimes lofty) goals. Jess had a resolution last year, for example, that she is still working on this year. She wanted to make more foods homemade and use less pre-made foods. Seems like something she already does a great job at as a recipe blogger, but hey, there is always room for improvement! Last year she started making homemade bread weekly instead of buying pre-made loaves. This year she is tackling snack foods - like this week's recipe. Pre-made snack bars are abundant in stores but don't always contain ideal ingredients. Like other pre-made snacks, snack bars can contain fillers and preservatives that won't be necessary if making homemade. With homemade snacks you can completely control the quality and quantity of ingredients used and are free to use any variety of your favorite foods. These snack bars we loaded with our favorite nuts, seeds, and dried fruits, and just the right amount of sugar ingredient to hold together. The result inspired us to keep on Jess's (and now our) homemade food journey this year. Does this sound like a resolution you might want to make (or swap for another you had)? Join us!
Also a quick note on an interesting ingredient we used this week - poppy seeds. We love poppy seeds for obvious seed reasons (plant protein, dietary fiber, etc.) but also for their unique nutty flavor and crunch. A delicious and unique addition to baked goods and homemade bars like these. This ingredient is also intriguing for the drama it can cause (yes, drama!). Because poppy seeds come from the same plant - the opium poppy - used to make heroin and opiates, poppy seeds contain trace amounts of opiate. This amount of opiate is not enough to have a narcotic affect when consumed in dietary amounts but can confuse results of drug testing. After consuming poppy seeds a drug test may test positive for opiate, which can't be distinguished from poppy seed vs opioid medication source (see, drama). Also notable, the sap from the opium poppy plant is what's used to make drugs NOT the seeds though it can be illegal to grow the poppy plant. We recommend buying (instead of producing) your poppy seeds juuust to be safe. We like and use Bob's Red Mill brand (you can get it legally here).
Chewy Poppy Seed Bars
PREP TIME: 10 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 90 minutes
Servings: 12-14 bars
1/2 cup honey
2 Tbsp coconut sugar
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup raw walnuts
1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup raw pepitas
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 cup prunes, chopped
Sprinkle of sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper that is cut to the exact shape of the bottom of pan with a 1-2" overhang on both edges then lightly coat the parchment paper on the bottom and sides of the pan with coconut oil and set aside. This step is important in making sure the bars come out of the pan easily.
In the prepared pan, add the nuts, seeds, and chopped prunes and stir mixture to uniformly combine then set aside.
In a medium sauce pan, add the honey, coconut sugar, and coconut oil and bring the mixture to a boil while stirring constantly. Continue to boil the mixture for 3-4 minutes then remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Avoid boiling over 4 minutes given you may burn the honey and the longer you boil the mixture, the harder the bars will be.
Carefully pour the hot honey mixture over the nut, seed, and dried fruit mix and stir until evenly combined. Level the top of the mixture with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with sea salt then place in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow bars to fully cool, about 45-60 minutes or overnight before cutting into them. Store bars individually wrapped in parchment paper in an air tight container for up to 7 days. Note bars will hold together better if refrigerated.
These bars are chewy but crunchy, sweet and salty, and completely satisfying from the mix of protein, complex carbohydrates, and simple sugars. If you keep the ratios similar, feel free to replace the nuts, seeds, and dried fruit with your favorites and share your variations. Here's to a year of homemade food experiments in 2018!
Jess and Cecelia
In Our Pantry
You may be stocked with many of these seeds but if not here are some easy links. Remember, buying in bulk always saves money!
Jess and Cecelia welcome you to our kitchen. We are fun-loving and passionate foodies working to make the world a healthier, happier place one plant based recipe at a time.