By Dr. Julia Nordgren
Many of us like to cook or bake when our friends are in need. “What can I bring?” we often ask, wanting to lighten the load with homemade meals or delicious treats.
Last year, my dear friend Emily went through an incredibly difficult time when her husband was suffering from cancer. I wanted to make something for her that she would love, so I wanted to use her favorite flavor combination of peanuts and chocolate. But I didn’t want to just make a dessert—I knew she was being inundated with cookies and brownies! And she needed great energy to care for her family.
My idea was to take her favorite flavors and craft a homemade power bar for her. Something she could grab on the go as she raced to an appointment, have on hand when she needed a boost, or enjoy as a snack with a soothing cup of tea. Something that was full of healthy ingredients and familiar flavors. And of course, full of love!
The base of this bar is enriched with the flavor and nutritional benefits of peanuts, oats and dates. Maple syrup adds sweetness and sesame seeds add great flavor and texture. For the chocolate, I like to have a bar of semi-sweet chocolate on hand, and I can chop it when I need it. Chocolate chips would also work, although they tend not to melt into the bar as well as chopped chocolate does. Feel free to use what you have on hand!
This is a great recipe you can customize when you have friend in need. You can feel good knowing it has nutritious ingredients that will support them, whatever they are going through!
In a food processor, pulse the peanuts along with the salt until they are finely chopped. Place in mixing bowl. Next, pulse the dates until very finely chopped. Add to peanuts. Then pulse the whole rolled oats 4-5 times, until they are broken up a bit but not ground to a powder. Add to dates and peanuts.
Next, add the coconut and brown sugar. Whisk to combine well.
In separate bowl, whisk the egg. Add peanut oil, vanilla extract, and maple syrup. Combine with the peanut mixture and stir until well combined. Mixture should be a coarse paste. Stir in chopped chocolate.
Pour into a square baking pan lined with parchment.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until mixture is set and brown on top. Allow to cool before cutting.
Cut into 16 bars. Bars can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 month.
Nutrition information per serving:
Saturated Fat: 3g
Julia Nordgren, MD has the unique distinction of being a physician and a trained chef. Her years of treating patients for cholesterol disorders and childhood obesity motivated her to inspire people to make healthy eating part of their daily lives. Dr. Nordgren received her medical degree from Dartmouth Medical School and graduated in 2013 from the Culinary Institute of America with honors. She currently lives on the Connecticut Shoreline and tests many of her recipes on her husband and two boys, who luckily have adventurous appetites and honest opinions.