I'm taking a little break from all of the savory I've been posting lately to share something on the sweeter side. These snack bars are full of natural, whole food goodness and would be the perfect addition to your holiday cookie plate or for your gift giving needs. They also freeze beautifully, so you can make them weeks in advance for a no fuss treat! I always have at least one variation of these bars in my freezer at all times.
Feel free to alter the ingredients too. My mom is allergic to cranberries, so dried cherries would be the perfect substitute. Don't have almonds? Use walnuts, pecans, or cashews. As long as the ratios are the same you're good to go! Just don't skip the dates - they are crucial for the bars to hold their shape. If your dates are on the harder, drier side, soak them in hot water for 15-20 minutes first.
Vanilla Cranberry Snack Bars
Makes 16 squares or 8-10 bars
3/4 cup raw almonds, toasted
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/8 tsp. sea salt
12 medjool dates
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 Tbs. maple syrup
1/4 cup almond butter
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbs. pumpkin seeds
2 Tbs. dried cranberries
Line an 8x8" pan with parchment paper. Make sure there is some overhang on the sides.
In a food processor, pulse almonds and pumpkin seeds until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large mixing bowl - add hemp seeds, rolled oats, and salt. Stir to combine.
Then, pulse the dates, cranberries, maple syrup, almond butter, and vanilla together in your processor until well combined and sticky.
Add the date mixture into the dry ingredients and incorporate well. You could use a wooden or silicon spoon to do this, but I honestly prefer using clean hands.
Transfer the dough to the lined baking dish and press down firmly into an even layer. (I use another piece of parchment paper on top to help with this.) Once uniform and well packed, scatter the remaining cranberries and pumpkin seeds over the top. Use the parchment paper again to press them gently into the dough.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to firm up before cutting into bars. (I take the entire block out of the pan and cut on a cutting board for more even pieces.)
Store the bars in a well sealed container with parchment between the layers. They will keep for several weeks in the fridge or one to two months in the freezer. Defrost at room temperature.