Orange- Carob Bars

I love having delicious and healthy snacks available to my children both at home, and when we are on the go. In the prepackaged world of crackers and granola bars, there isn't much that meets my standards. There are some that come close, but these selections are typically expensive and are not as good as what I can make at home.

Fresh dates and crispy nuts make for a great snack alone or together!

Fresh dates and crispy nuts make for a great snack alone or together!

 

Last week we had a big baking and cooking day. My oldest help to write the recipes, my middle child measured, and the youngest was in charge of stirring. All of their hard word qualified them to be official taste testers both during the process and for the finished product. I am so glad to have their help! When we were finished, the older two even offered to wash the dishes. You just never know what will happen in the kitchen.

 

Crispy nuts, coconut, and dates processed until the whole mixture comes together.

Crispy nuts, coconut, and dates processed until the whole mixture comes together.

In these Orange- Carob Bars, I used organic, soaked and dehydrated cashews, pecans, and almonds for the crust. There is no magic to the using that blend, it's just what I had on hand. I think that any nut would work well. I chose organic nuts because awhile back, I learned that they are heavily sprayed with pesticides and fungicides. No thanks! Typically I can get the price to an affordable place by buying bulk and sharing with friends. Wilderness Family Naturals is a good source as is Bremner Family Farm.

I really love that the kids want to be involved in the preparation of the food. They are getting to be great little cooks and bakers.

I really love that the kids want to be involved in the preparation of the food. They are getting to be great little cooks and bakers.

 

Why the soaking and dehydrating? Nuts have phytates that serve as defense mechanisms. Breaking down these phytates makes the nutrients in them accessible to our digestive tracts. If I'm paying $10/pound, I'm going to get every last nutrient out of those nuts. To soak, cover nuts in water, add some salt (a TB for every 2 cups is what I do), and allow to soak overnight or for about 12 hours. When finished soaking, rinse nuts and spread on dehydrator sheets. Set dehydrator to 100°F and dry until crispy. Store in a glass jar until ready to use.

 

In this recipe I also used carob. If you aren't familiar with carob, you are missing out. Although powdered carob acts a lot like cocoa powder, please don't think that the taste will be similar. In my opinion, they are not alike at all. Raw, toasted carob is very sweet on its own, meaning you won't need to use much sweetener, if any, in any recipe calling for its use.

Carob pods are ground to make carob powder.

Carob pods are ground to make carob powder.

 

Wait, isn't carob a bean, and don't beans contain phytates? Yes, but powdered carob uses only the pod of the plant and not the bean itself. It also does not contain dairy and does host a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. We have used this type and this one and enjoy both.

Combine cream or coconut milk and gelatin over low heat until smooth. Add 1 tsp orange oil.

Combine cream or coconut milk and gelatin over low heat until smooth. Add 1 tsp orange oil.

For the middle layer of the bar, I used real cream. You can easily substitute coconut milk or cream for this step. If you use coconut cream, I'd just suggest that you add a tablespoon of water as well to thin it out. The addition of gelatin will give you the more solid feel that you need.

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Ingredients:

* 1 cup nuts

* 4 dates

* 1 cup cream or coconut milk

* 5 TB gelatin

* Orange Oil

* 5 TB carob powder

* 3 TB coconut oil

* 2 TB cocoa butter

* 1 TB honey

Directions:

1. In food processor, pulse together nuts and dates

2. Press date mixture into parchment lined 8x8 pan.

3. Over low heat, combine cream, gelatin, and orange oil. Stir until smooth

4. Pour cream over nut mixture and place in freezer to set

5. Using double boiler or a DIY version (see my photo below) combine carob powder, coconut oil, honey and carob. Stir until smooth.

6.  Pour carob mixture over set cream layer. Place in fridge until set.

7. Cut and enjoy!