I decided we should close out Sweets Week with something that won’t send us all into a diabetic coma just by looking at it: raw bars.
My mother is still trying to watch what she eats and is doing pretty well. She balanced out a big cheesy portion of baked ziti one day with tofu and mixed vegetables over brown rice (her first time ordering brown rice!) the next. And she ate all the fruit and nut bars I made her last week (she liked them so much she was hoping to have more last night and was very disappointed when I told her they’d still be in the fridge, firming up, when she went to bed), so it was time for another go around.
I call these Thanksgiving Bars because they contain most of the flavors we associate with the season: cranberry, pumpkin (seeds), maple and cinnamon. And because I have Thanksgiving on the brain (if all goes well, I’ll be making an all vegan family dinner again, so I’ve been sorting through recipes for weeks).
Makes 8 (unless you prefer your bars smaller, or shaped like balls or something, which is fine too)
1.5 cups raw pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
10 dried dates
1.75 cups dried cranberries
4 teaspoons maple syrup (I used grade B)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Line 8"x8" pan with enough plastic wrap to cover it over twice (once under your bars and once above).
Throw all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until evenly incorporated. A little chunky is fun and fine, but too much and it won't stick together.
Test to see if the mixture will hold together by squeezing a bit of it in your hand. If not, add more fruit or a bit more syrup.
Dump your fruit nut mush into the prepared pan and press it with your fingertips, spreading it as evenly as you can and making sure to get it in all the corners.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours.
Once hardened, cut into bars and enjoy.
Store in plastic, in the fridge.
My mother said these were delicious and not nearly as crumbly as my first attempt. She still can't really tell what flavor it is, just that it's really good, but now that I'm thinking about it, I can't usually tell which fruit are in a lot of Lara Bars (like Ginger Snap and Pecan Pie), so that's OK. I think it's because we don't usually eat dates, so the unknown flavor gets mixed in with everything else. I still consider these a success.