[quicklook-recipe prep_time=”15 min” cook_time=”20 min” serves=”16″ details=”” ]
These chewy snack bars are a special treat for lunchboxes as well as for a midday snack or coffee break. Only a little reduced-fat margarine and oil are needed for the dough. Dates are added for natural sweetness, and walnuts and sunflower seeds provide extra texture. The result is both nutritious and delicious.
Homemade snack bars are also less expensive than store-bought versions.
[ingredients-list title=”Ingredients” serving_size=””]
- Cooking spray
- 2 tablespoons reduced-fat margarine spread
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Zest of 1 orange
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1/3 cup dried pitted dates, chopped
- 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
- 2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
[step-list-wrapper title=”How to make it” time=”35 minutes”]
[step-item number=”1″ image_url=”” title=”” ]Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9 x 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.[/step-item]
[step-item number=”2″ image_url=”” title=”” ]Place the margarine, oil, sugar, honey, and orange zest and juice in a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring until the butter has melted. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the dates and walnuts. Add the oats, making sure they are evenly coated with the butter mixture.[/step-item]
[step-item number=”3″ image_url=”” title=”” ]Spread the mixture in the prepared pan, pressing it down firmly and evenly. Sprinkle the sunflower seeds over the top and press down lightly to embed the seeds in the surface.[/step-item]
[step-item number=”4″ image_url=”” title=”” ]Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pan. When cool, turn the bars out onto a cutting board and slice into 16 bars. The bars can be kept in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Makes 16 bars.[/step-item][/step-list-wrapper]
Sprinkle the top of the bars with pumpkin seeds instead of the sunflower seeds. Other dried fruits, such as dried cranberries or raisins, can be added to the dough mixture in place of the dates.
Apricot and hazelnut snack bars: Substitute 1/3 cup chopped dried apricots for the dates and 1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts for the walnuts.
[factoid]Up to 95% of the calorie content of dates comes from natural sugars, but because of their fiber content — and additional fiber from the oats in this recipe — the body can keep the release of glucose into the bloodstream at a steady pace, resulting in a gentle and sustained rise in blood sugar levels for long-term energy, rather than a sudden rise for a quick energy fix and then a fast dip.[/factoid]
[nutrition-info calories=”103″ calories_fat=”34″ fat=”4g” sat_fat=”0g” choles=”0mg” sodium=”12mg” carbs=”16g” sugars=”8g” protein=”2g” fiber=”2g”]
Oats are an excellent source of soluble fiber, which can help to reduce high blood cholesterol levels.
Exchanges: carbohydrate 1, fat 1/2[/nutrition-info]