The paleo diet, for many, means using nuts, nut butters, and nut flours as replacements for foods we've been used to eating. I love nuts, but I know not everyone likes them, others have nut allergies, and some limit nut consumption to cut weight. Heather Bergeron, from CrossFit New England, recently challenged me to create a nut-free paleo bar. This bar is perfect to help with your post-workout recovery, a great snack to send to school with your kids, and a good option to grab for breakfast on the go. The bar itself contains only a touch of applesauce and some dates for sweetness. You can play around with the amount of coconut oil you use until you find the consistency that's right for you; I prefer it with a full cup.
For the kids (they're a good excuse, anyway), you can add a little dark chocolate to increase the appeal. But for a no-cheat bar, leave it off...you won't be disappointed! You could actually pour this batter into a paleo pie shell and call it sweet potato pie. Or, substitute canned pumpkin for the sweet potato for a traditional Thanksgiving treat.
Thanks to my family, my CrossFit Freedom pals, and Heather, for recipe and taste testing this one for me. Enjoy!
1 cup refrigerated pitted dates, processed in a food processor until very finely chopped (optional)
1 cup sifted coconut flour
1/4 cup flax meal (ground flax seeds)
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 dash freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 heaping cup (liquid measure) home-made sweet potato puree (approximately 3 medium sweet potatoes, halved, rubbed with coconut oil, then roasted at 450 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes) OR 1-15 oz can organic sweet potato puree
3/4 to 1 cup coconut oil, liquified
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I used E. Guittard 61% semisweet chocolate wafers.)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk to combine.
- Combine the wet ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process until light and airy.
- If your food processor is big enough, pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and process until just combined. Otherwise, pour wet ingredients into a large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients, and use a mixing spoon to thoroughly combine. The mixture will be thick. Fold the dates into the batter.
- Spoon batter into a 9x13 baking dish or metal pan. Use the back of a rubber spatula or spoon to evenly spread the batter.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. (The toothpick test doesn't work well on these bars since the batter is so dense.) Carefully remove baking dish from oven.
- If using chocolate, sprinkle chocolate evenly across the top. Return to oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and use a rubber spatula to spread chocolate in a very thin, even layer across the top.
- Let cool for 15 minutes before cutting.