I like to bring whole food, plant-based refreshments when I give local talks. I typically just lay them out and don't highlight the fact that they don't have added sugar, or eggs, or dairy, or bacon, or whatever else the young people are putting into their treats these days.
At the end of the talk, I do my reveal: “Did you enjoy the cookies/brownies/date bars etc.?” (Always ask first, in case they sucked.)
Then I casually mention how healthy they are, and that it's possible to eat really well without sacrificing pleasure.
At a recent talk, I prepared Date Bars from Kim Campbell's PlantPure Nation Cookbook. I had so many attendees ask for the recipe, I contacted Kim and her publisher (also my publisher for WHOLE and The Low Carb Fraud, so we're all friennds :)) and asked for permission to share it.
So here goes:
- Date Bars (makes 12 bars)
- 2 c instant oatmeal
- 4 T agave nectar, divided
- 1/2 c unsweetened apple sauce
- 9 T water, divided
- 1/2 t ground cinnamon
- 1/2 t baking soda
- 1/4 t sea salt
- 1 pound pitted medjool dates, chopped
- 3 T chopped walnuts
- 1 T lemon juice
- 1 t almond extract
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a 9×9 inch pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix the oatmeal, 3 T agave, applesauce, 4 T water, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. This should have a thick consistency.
- Firmly press half the oatmeal mixture into the prepared pan. Reserve the remaining oatmeal crumbles for the top.
- In a saucepan over low heat, combine the dates, walnuts, remaining 1 T agave, remaining 5 T water, lemon juice, and almond extract, stirring constantly until thickened, about 10 minutes.
- Spread the thickened date mixture evenly over the oatmeal crumble mixture using a spatula. Top with the remaining oat mixture and press lightly.
- Bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes.
- Cool thoroughly and cut into 12 bars.
Medjool dates can be pricey; I get mine at Costco, two pounds for $9. Parchment paper is amazing, especially for those of us who dislike scrubbing pans. If you don't have instant oatmeal, you can make it from regular rolled oats by putting them in a blender or food processor and pulsing for a few seconds.
Note: the photo shows the “extra fancy” version that includes a drizzle of powdered sugar and water. It photographs great, but is not necessary for wowing the heck out of your omnivorous friends. I left it out and nobody complained. (Or even realized, to be fair.)
Enjoy! And get the entire cookbook here.