Fruit and Nut Bars
These bars are heavenly and quite addictive. The basic recipe is below. The variations are endless. The cashews and molasses serve to bind the bars together, but you can replace the cashews with cashew butter, peanut butter or almond butter. Or switch out the molasses for any other sweetener - like honey.
Fruits and nuts can be varied as well. Add more or less of your favorites. While the cherries and cranberries are fantastic, they are usually sold sugared. I plan on trying apricots and raisins or dates next time.
This recipe makes about 2.5 pounds (37 ounces) of nut bars. Each ounce is about 140 calories.
I usually cook by weight. For those of you without a scale, 60 grams of nuts and seeds is just about ½ cup.
180 g raw unsalted cashews
60 g sesame seeds
60 g oil (essential fatty acids type like flax or hemp is nice)
160 g molasses (~½ cup)
60 g poppy seeds
60 g pecans
60 g walnuts
60 g almonds
60 g sunflower seeds
60 g pumpkin seeds
150 g dried cherries (about 1 cup)
130 g dried cranberries (about 1 cup)
Put the cashews in a blender and grind. (You will want to pick up the blender and shake to get an even mix when the nuts start blending) Add the sesame seeds and chop them up as well. As the blender continues to run the nuts and seeds will become “butter”. Add the oil and molasses. The mixture should begin to ball up and pull away from the sides. This makes it easy to get out of the blender. (If you decide to use a nut butter you can skip this step, chop up the other ingredients as described next, and then combine in a bowl. You won’t need the blender at all.)
Finely chop up the pecans, walnuts and almonds. You can put the sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cherries, and cranberries in whole, but I like the seeds chopped a little and the fruit minced. The finer the pieces the better the bars hold together.
In a large bowl, combine the mixture from the blender, the poppy seeds and the other nuts, seeds and fruits. Mix everything together well. I usually use my hands for this. Then press the mixture into a baking pan and refrigerate. When chilled, cut into bars. Store in the fridge.