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Date, Raisin and Apple Bars

November 19, 2017

Rancho Vignola is so lucky to have customers who share their culinary creations with us, this one chock-full of healthy ingredients, containing no sugar and can be adapted to be completely gluten-free!

Rancho Vignola Harvest Sales are happening in our communities and the online Harvest Sale is coming up from December 1 to 15, so our minds are on the harvest.

In the Okanagan at this time of year when we think about the harvest, it is natural to think about apples. The Okanagan Valley has a strong history of apple orchards, and our local orchardists grow great apples!

This is an easy and favourite snack bar that is perfect to make at this time of year when our local apples are so abundant. It’s a delicious bar reminiscent of the matrimonial date squares that many of our grandmothers made; however – these are NOT your grandma’s date bars! ☺ These whole-food bars have no sugar in them, and no one will even notice, because the natural sweetness of the dates, raisins and apples makes them a tasty treat.

I like to use organic Granny Smith or McIntosh apples in this recipe, as they soften as they cook and help to hold the bar together nicely, but you can choose any good baking apple. The sweeter the apple variety the more natural sweetness it will add to the bars. These bars are made from oats and oat flour (ground oats) instead of wheat flour. I use regular organic oats, but you could use gluten-free oats if you want to be 100% gluten-free.

2 cups oat flour (I make this by running oats through my food processor)
1 cup quick oats (or whole rolled oats)
¾ tsp salt
1 ½ cup Thompson raisins
1 ½ cup pitted Deglet dates (or Rancho Vignola date pieces in oat flour)
1 cup walnuts
2 large baking apples (peeled or grated and then run through processor)
½ cup coconut oil (melted)
½ cup water
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Date Raisin and Apple Bars with WalnutsFirst make oat flour by running oats through the food processor until it looks like coarse flour, measure two cups worth of this “flour” into mixing bowl. Then, into the mixing bowl, add one cup of quick or whole rolled oats and the salt.

Now in a food processor roughly grind the raisins and add to mixing bowl. Then do the same with the dates: I usually cut the dates in half first and then grind them, sometimes I grind a bit of the oats at the same time as the dates (in batches), as I find that this will help keep the dates from sticking so that they grind up more readily. Alternatively or if you don’t have a food processor, you can use Rancho Vignola date pieces, as they are already ground and can easily be used in baking. Once the dates are roughly ground and added to the mixing bowl, grind the walnuts and add to the dry ingredients. Mix these dry ingredients to combine. Lastly, grind (or grate) the apples and add them to the dry ingredients. Mix. Now to this add melted coconut oil and water and stir until evenly coated.

Use a bit of coconut oil to “grease” an 11 x 7-inch glass baking pan (or similar size; for example, 9 x 9-inch works too). Put bar mixture into the greased pan and press flat. Bake on middle rack in 350-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Once done, allow to cool completely before slicing into squares or bars.

That’s it – enjoy! Perhaps even with a cup of tea from your grandma’s teapot. ☺

Packed full of oats, dates, raisins and nuts, these bars are already bursting with nutrition and fibre, but if you want to make these even healthier – here are some more Rancho Vignola choices for added goodness.

Optional Add-ins for Extra Goodness:
Add a handful of flax, chia or hemp seeds into the mixing bowl; this extra nutrition boost means you can feel good about having them as a breakfast bar on those mornings when you need a quick, healthy, on-the-go breakfast.

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