Date and walnut energy squares are all about quelling the sugar craving in the afternoon. A small square of goodness that acts as a pick me up when really all you want is a chocolate bar.
With October Challenge in full swing, the thing that I am missing most is afternoon tea – something to get me through to dinner time. Afternoon tea certainly doesn’t have to be cake or biscuits, but annoyingly, that tends to be what I am craving. So far, I haven’t fallen off the wholesome food wagon, mainly relying on a small amount of hummus and a multigrain cracker at this time of day.
There’s always fruit too. Unfortunately there’s the school of thought that would have you give up fruit as well, being made up largely of sugars, naturally occurring or not. For the October Challenge, the quitting sugar option is certainly not on the agenda. Its more about shunning processed foods rather than not eating wholefoods that happen to contain fructose. Maybe a little controversial but that’s how I’m playing it.
Which brings me to date and walnut squares. Should these be on the banned list too? I say no, but you might disagree. Admittedly, dates that come in a packet contain vegetable oil, which isn’t great, but there’s no added oil or sweetener in the mixture. If you write a pro/cons list the oil would certainly be on the con side. However, when you add in the walnuts, coconut and chia seeds, then the pro column suddenly grows.
You’ll need a food processor to make these, and a bit of patience. Turning the dates into moosh takes a fair bit of blitzing but its the mooshy dates that bind it all together, so be persistent. And make sure the dates are pitted properly. Even if the packet says pitted, don’t believe them. Machines make mistakes too and there’s nothing quite as horrible as crunching down on a date stone.
Turning the mixture into a slice rather than balls, means you don’t get the mixture stuck to your hands. Admittedly using a 18cmx 18cm tin means they are very thin (about 0.5cm), and if you cut them into 2cm squares, then you really are only getting a taste of goodness rather than an overload. And on that basis, they are firmly on the October Challenge menu. Enjoy!
- 500 g dates, pitted
- 120 g walnuts
- 1½ tbs chia seeds
- 50 g shredded coconut + extra for the top
- 1½ tbs cocoa
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Place dates in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until they are in small pieces. (You may need to do this in batches, depending on the size / power of your food processor.)
- Add the walnuts, chia seeds, coconut, cocoa, and vanilla extract. Blitz until the mixture turns into a smoothish paste. You will need to stop the food processor and scrape down the bowl a couple of times, to get the mixture to a smoothish texture.
- Line a 18cm x 18cm square baking tray with baking paper.
- Turn mixture into pan and spread evenly. Press down firmly with the back of a spoon or your hand.
- Sprinkle extra coconut over the top and gently press down.
- Refrigerate for a couple of hours until the slice is firm.
- Using the baking paper, remove from the pan and cut into small squares.
- Keep refrigerated.