Fruit-Nut Energy Bars

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup medjool dates, chopped and pitted (available from Del Real)
2/3 cup almond butter (available at F & J Minazzolis or Stackhouse Bros.)
1 tablespoon maple or agave syrup
Water
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 tablespoon flax seeds
2/3 cup chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios all work well)
1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries
1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 275°F. Line an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper. Allow the ends of foil or parchment paper to extend over the edges of pan.  

Place seeds and nuts on baking sheet. Toast nuts and seeds in oven for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Combine dates, almond butter, maple or agave syrup, salt and a splash of water in a small saucepan and heat on low heat. Stir until the mixture becomes a paste.

Mix in toasted nuts and seeds, dried cranberries and coconut flakes.

Pour mixture into prepared pan. Press down until mixture is evenly packed down. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Lift the bars out of the pan to cutting board, using the foil or parchment paper as “handles.” With a very sharp knife (or a rolling pizza cutter sprayed with a little non-stick spray works very well) cut into 8 bars.

Serve, or wrap bars individually in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

YIELD: Makes 8 bars.