You know those days when you’re sitting there swooning over a bowl of ice cream and thinking about how you’re going to start eating healthier tomorrow? I feel like this happens to me on a weekly basis; I decide that I should go on a little health kick, make healthier breakfasts, eat less bread, etc. The problem is that as soon as I start to think logistics, I hit a brick wall – basically a chocolate wall in my world. If you haven’t quite figured it out yet, I have a bit of a chocolate addiction. That means that the thought of going without dessert (read: chocolate) for even a day is pretty much unheard of for me. I always, ALWAYS figure out a way to have my chocolate. If you lived with me, you would only know all to well how true this is.
And what about all the other challenges to eating healthy besides the chocolate issue? There’s those carbs, too; I love bread, and I love cookies, and both (sadly) contain carbs. You can see how quickly this story of my grand plans for eating healthy could turn into a sob story if I didn’t have any self-control. That’s why I have to have tricks up my sleeve, like these Healthy Dark Chocolate No-Bake Bars. They involve chocolate and they’re pretty close to being no-guilt. I loooovve it!
These bars couldn’t be simpler. This is basically the gist of what goes into them:
So I know, the whole “secret” to making bars out of dates and nuts isn’t super new; these days you hear the words “healthy brownie” and you can bet that what you’re gonna hear next involves the words “cocoa, nuts, dates, food processor”…the end. But don’t check out; these bars are different! When you toast the nuts and oats, they develop so much more flavor that you can actually taste in the finished bars. The pecans, especially, taste ah-mazing toasted. It’s the same trick I use in my Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and it’s totally worth the extra couple minutes it takes. Then after you add those warm, toasty nuts and oats to the dates,you blend in that luscious dark chocolate (because sometimes you need the chocolate, not just the cocoa), and easy, healthy, no-bake bars become totally rich, delicious treats. You get a tiny note of saltiness in some of the bites that’s so perfect, and vanilla in every bite that just completes the whole thing.
The first time I made these, I didn’t mean for the chocolate to get all melty and make these bars what they are, but they did, and it was amazing, and I haven’t looked back since. The combination of rich nutty flavors, dark chocolate, and lots of vanilla makes me seriously feel like these bars are dessert, except for the fact that I can eat them in the middle of the day with no guilt. It’s like something from my dreams, you guys. If you’re a chocolate addict/cookie lover like me, you need to try these! (And they’re so easy to make, you basically have no excuse not to!)
P.S. Have you entered into the giveaway I have going on now? One of you will win a $50 store credit for Minted.com! They have some of the cutest business cards, invitations, stationary, party supplies, and other paper goods ever. If I could I would seriously be entering to win myself!
These no-bake bars are loaded with nutritious ingredients but taste sinfully rich, chocolate-y and delicious! They're so easy to make and perfect for an on-the-go snack.
- 5 3/4 ounces (2 cups) old-fashioned rolled oats
- 4 ounces (1 cup) pecans
- 3 1/2 ounces (1 cup) slivered almonds
- 5 1/2 ounces (1 cup, halved and packed in) pitted medjool dates
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces (1 1/3 cup) dark chocolate baking chips
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and divide the oats, pecans, and almonds between the two sheets, spreading out in flat layers. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes to toast, switching and rotating sheets halfway through the baking time, until nuts and oats smell fragrant. Lift the parchment off of the baking sheets and use to transfer the nuts and oats to a food processor fitted with the steel blade attachment. Allow to cool 20 minutes.
- Add the dates to the food processor and sprinkle over the salt. Process the mixture until it resembles coarse sand. Add 6 ounces (1 cup) chocolate chips and process in partway. Add the remaining 2 ounces and continue to process until the mixture has turned evenly brown from the melting chocolate. You may need to stop and use a spatula to push the mixture around (basically helping the machine out) periodically. Add the vanilla extract and pulse in.
- Transfer the mixture to a parchment or foil-lined 8" square pan. Press in to fill the entire pan and use a wide spatula to flatten the top. Place in the refrigerator to cool until firm, about 30-60 minutes. Use the parchment or foil to lift the bars out of the pan, and then slice into bars with a serrated knife.
- Store bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before eating (my preference!)*
*You can also wrap each bar in plastic wrap so that it's all ready as a grab-and-go snack. Since these are even more awesome at room temperature, it works out perfectly; they'll come to room temp. by the time you're ready to snack!
These bars remind me of my Apple Cinnamon Energy Bars. They’re perfect for the days when you aren’t craving chocolate, and they’re even healthier!
And if you love snacking on nutty foods, you should try making DIY Peanut Butter. It’s so pure and tasty, but it doesn’t have all the unhealthy ingredients found in store-bought Peanut Butter. :)
Thanks for stopping by! If you’re into the kind of goodies I’m baking (or not baking) up here, you can follow along by e-mail or RSS to recieve updates of new posts. You can also browse for more recipes in the recipe index!
What’s your favorite healthy snack or treat?