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Viola’s Vegan Volleyball Bars

June 15, 2012

I’ve been waiting for a reason to make a version of the Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew Bars from The Cravings Chronicles. I love this blog’s photography and this bar just looked so good. So, finally, my opportunity arose. Tomorrow, Viola’s Volleyball team is having a bake sale at a tournament in North Beach. The girls are fundraising because they qualified for the national championship in Columbus, OH at the end of this month. The fundraising will cover some of their travel expenses. I will be going out there as well, crossing my fingers that none of my clients go into labor while I’m away. If they do, Sue Baelen’s capable hands will be there, but I always say that’s it’s me who misses the big party. I’ve really just used the Cravings Chronicles recipe as a master technique recipe. The gist of it is that you make a dried fruit paste, add stuff (think nuts, seeds, coconut, cacao nibs), press into a brownie pan, add chocolate drizzle for decadence. It really didn’t take that long (although I was 10 minutes late for my postpartum visit with Amanda and her beautiful 3 week old baby girl. I figured Amanda wouldn’t mind when she tasted how delicious these are!)

Here goes:

Ingredients

vegetable oil spray

1/2 cup raw cashews

1 1/4 cup medjool dates, pitted

1 1/4 cup other dried fruit (I used apricots, prunes and dried cranberries. You can use any mix of dried fruits that you have on hand.)

1 cup roasted almonds

1 cup of other stuff ( I used raw, shredded coconut and pumpkin seeds – Viola is allergic to sesame seeds so I didn’t use them. You can add chia seeds, flax, any other nuts.)

3 Tablespoons raw Cacao nibs

1/2 cup Barbara’s brown rice crisps ( I chose this brand because it is fruit juice sweetened.)

1/2 cup dark chocolate for drizzling (optional — the chocolate will include the only refined sugar in this recipe)

Directions

Line an 8 x 8 baking pan with foil, leaving enough over the edges to grasp later. Spray with oil. Coat the inside of a large metal bowl with the oil spray and set aside.

Pulse the cashews in a food processor until roughly chopped. Add cashews to the metal bowl. Spray the food processor blade generously with oil because the fruit paste will be sticky. Add all the dried fruits and process until it all comes together in a sticky mass. Watch the processor carefully because once it forms this mass, the blade will have a hard time turning and it will jam up.

Add the fruit paste to the metal bowl. Add 1/2 cup almonds, the other “stuff,” the cacao nibs and the brown rice crisps. Mix by hand until thoroughly combined. Press mixture firmly into prepared pan. Press remaining 1/2 cup almonds firmly into top. It’s also nice to press some more coconut onto the top. If the almonds and coconut are not embedded in the paste, they will fall off later. Chill in the freezer x 30 min.

Spray a sharp knife with oil. Remove bars using the foil “handles,” place on cutting board, and cut into 14 bars. Try to make them 1 inch wide by 4 inches long.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. If you don’t have one, set a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water. You only need about an inch of water, just make sure the metal bowl completely covers the top of the pot so that you can use the gently steam-heat to melt the chocolate without burning it.

Place bars on a wire rack. Drizzle melted chocolate over the bars in any lovely design using a narrow spoon. You will have more control over your “design” if you have a “point” on the end of your spoon. If you are late for a postpartum visit, you can stick them in the freezer x 10 min. Otherwise, they can set at room temperature until the chocolate is firm (approx 30 min.)

Bars can be stored at room temperature, individually wrapped, for a few weeks.

And why am I recommending these for a healthy pregnancy and postpartum?

1) Whole foods have more nutrients than processed or refined foods.

2) Dried fruit has fiber, vitamins and minerals. This type of sugar is lower on the glycemic index than white sugar.

3) These bars have no refined sugar except for the chocolate drizzle on top (I’ll allow it.)

4) Nuts and seeds have protein and important omega 3 fatty acids.

5) One bar will provide a healthy, gluten free, high protein snack.

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