Today's post may seem a little out of season, but since the weather here in Ontario seems to be rather confused itself, I figured it's acceptable to post an apple recipe in April!
I've made a lot of raw energy bars or bites by blending up nuts and dried fruit in my food processor, always using a different combination of ingredients to change things up. For these energy bars, I tried out a new method of adding even more flavour: soaking the dried fruit in flavoured tea first!
The flavour I was going for was apple pie, like the Larabar, and to get that flavour I used dried apples, dates and raisins for the dried fruit and soaked them in apple cinnamon tea so that they absorbed more apple-y flavour. Along with the fruit, I added walnuts, sunflower seeds and oats to make up the bulk of the bars, and cinnamon, ginger and vanilla to round out the apple pie theme.
These bars turned out extra moist from the plump fruit and the sunflower seeds, which break down in the food processor to create a paste, sort of like nut butter. I loved the strong apple flavour, and while they were on the soft side overall, the walnuts and oats helped to add layers of texture.
The recipe is pretty adaptable, so feel free to shape the mixture any way you want! I made long, thin bars, but you could make thicker squares, or even roll the mixture into energy balls instead.
I can't wait to try out other kinds of teas to make more energy bars and bites! I'm thinking that an earl grey tea might go well with an almond and vanilla based bar, and a ginger tea with oats and lemon sounds lovely too! I also used a decaf tea in these bars, but you could get an extra energy boost from your bars if you use a tea with caffeine!
Apple Pie Energy Bars
Loosely adapted from Real Food. Real Deals
1 bag of apple cinnamon tea
1 cup boiled water
1/2 cup diced dried apple (if you can only find sliced dried apple, chop them first and then measure 1/2 cup)
2 tbsp raisins
1/4 cup dates (about 5 dates)
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1/4 cup raw or roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup or more rolled oats
Soak the teabag in the boiled water for 3-5 minutes. Remove teabag and discard. Add the dried apple, raisins and dates to the water and let soak for about 5 minutes. Drain well, squeezing out any excess liquid if necessary (I recommend saving the tea to drink, it’s quite delicious and sweet from the dried fruit!).
Place walnuts, sunflower seeds, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a food processor and process until the mixture forms crumbs. Add the drained apples, raisins and dates, and the vanilla extract. Process again until everything is broken down (it’s okay if it’s a bit chunky). Pulse in the oats. If mixture is still too wet, pulse in another 1-2 tablespoons of oats.
Press mixture into the bottom of a loaf pan lined with parchment paper, pressing down firmly with a rubber spatula and/or your hands (you can make the bars as thick as you want them). Refrigerate for at least an hour, then cut into bars or squares.
Store in the fridge.
Makes about 5 bars (although it depends how thick you make your bars).