Nutty fruity bars – grain free, sugar free, dairy free

Nutty Fruity Bars - grain free, sugar free

Nutty Fruity Bars – grain free, sugar free

I’ve recently been experimenting with cutting back on grains and sugar – a bit of a challenge for a keen baker who loves to eat cake. Fortunately, Anja’s Food For Thought has plenty of ideas, and these nutty fruity bars are based on Anja’s Nutty Fruit Bars. If you prefer cup measurements, switch over to that recipe.

These are easy to make if you have a food processor, and will keep well in an airtight tin for when the munchies strike. They are quite portable; wrapped in a bit of foil, they worked well as a walking snack.

I’ve suggested a mix of dried fruit, nuts and seeds – but you can mix and match. I made one batch for a friend who is allergic to walnuts so used all macadamias, a bit expensive but very good.

If you want to be careful about sugar, look carefully at the ingredients of the dried cranberries. Tesco Wholefood ones are sugar-free, but some other brands are up to 60% sugar. You could substitute any sugar-free dried fruit; sour cherries would be nice, or raisins for a sweeter bar.

Anja uses dessicated coconut where I’ve used sesame seeds. I sometimes use one and sometimes another; both are good.

If you can’t get ready-to-eat dried figs, use ordinary dried figs but you may have to add a tablespoon or two of water to the mix to help it along when grinding.

I like quite a spicy bar so I’m generous with the spice. I’ve tried it with mixed spice and with pumpkin pie spice (not easily available in the UK but a standard thing in the US) and both were good. Next time I’ll try ginger as I love it.

Equipment

Scales
Measuring spoons
Large bowl
Small bowl
A big spoon
Food processor
Spatula
Oven
Baking pan 22cm square (9″)
Baking sheet or baking tray
If not using a silicon pan: baking liner, baking parchment or foil

Optional:
Microplane grater
Cutting board
Knife
Orange squeezer

Ingredients

Cooking spray or a little neutral oil such as sunflower oil
Orange juice – 60ml OR one medium orange OR two satsumas
Dried dates – 50g
Almonds – 80 g
Walnuts – 80g
Dried apricots – 75g (not ready-to-eat)
Ready-to-eat dried figs – 75g
Dried cranberries – 40g
Pumpkin seeds – 40g
Sunflower seeds – 40g
Sesame seeds – 60g
Mixed spice, pumkin pie spice, cinnamon or ginger – 1 tsp  (optional)

Method

  1. Switch your oven on at 160 degrees C with fan, or 180 degrees C conventional.
  2. If you are using a conventional square pan and baking tray, line them with foil, baking parchment or a baking liner.
  3. Spray them with cooking spray or grease lightly with a little oil.
  4. If using an orange and you like an orangey flavour, use a Microplane to get the zest off it.
  5. Squeeze the orange to get about 60ml juice, If it’s not quite enough, top up with water.
  6. Add the chopped dates to the juice and set aside to soften while you weigh out the other ingredients.
  7. Pulse the nuts in the food processor until roughly chopped.
  8. Add the apricots and figs; pulse again until chopped.
  9. Add the dates and juice; keep pulsing until you have a mushy mixture with some nutty bits in it. If it doesn’t seem to want to go mushy, add a tablespoon or so of water.
  10. Scrape out into the large bowl.
  11. Add all the remaining ingredients and the orange zest (if using).
  12. Mush together until well mixed.
  13. Scrape into your square pan, and flatten down as evenly as possible.
  14. Mark into 16 squares. This makes it easier to turn them out later.
  15. Bake for 10 minutes.
  16. Remove from the oven, then carefully lift out the liner onto the baking sheet.
  17. The squares will have closed up a bit; recut them.
  18. Carefully separate the squares and flip them over so that they are upside down on the baking sheet, separated by about 1cm.
  19. Put them back into the oven for another 8 to 10 minutes.
  20. Leave to cool on the baking sheet.

Note: you don’t absolutely have to do the flipping / rebaking thing. I’ve tried it both ways; the flipped ones make a crisper bar that keeps better. If you don’t flip them, bake for about 15 to 18 minutes and watch carefully as they may catch.

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