Say goodbye to expensive and secretly unhealthy pre-made bars.

By Toby Amidor
November 13, 2020
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Credit: Toby Amidor

Skip the store-bought bars and opt to make your own energy bars using three ingredients. I didn't think it was possible either — specifically for making healthy, delicious bars — but this recipe is proof that you can do it easily and rather quickly.

In my latest cookbook, The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook (Buy It, $22, amazon.com), there are 100 recipes using only three ingredients, including breakfast, soups, salads, lunches, dinners, sides, snacks, and sweet treats. You only need three pantry staples in addition to the three ingredients that each recipe calls for: salt, black pepper, and olive oil.

Of course, the snacks and sweet treats are my favorite section of the cookbook. Oftentimes people buy these products but you can easily make them with only a few items. Limiting the ingredients shaves money off your grocery bill and saves time since there isn't much prep. Plus, you can guarantee there are no weird filler ingredients or sneaky additives. That's where this recipe for Cashew Date Bars with Chocolate Drizzle comes in.

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These energy bars are made from cashews, dates, and bittersweet chocolate, and each of the ingredients plays an important role:

  • Raw cashews: These unsalted nuts provide mostly heart-healthy unsaturated fat. They're also an excellent source of magnesium and copper and a good source of vitamin K, iron, phosphorus, manganese, and zinc per ounce. Toasting the cashews adds flavor and helps add a dry ingredient that complements the moist dates perfectly.
  • Pitted dates: One pitted date provides 66 calories, 18g carbs, 16g natural sugar, and 2g fiber. It also contains small amounts of B-vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and potassium and several phytochemicals (plant compounds that help prevent and fight disease) including anthocyanins, carotenoids, and polyphenols. Dates help bind the bars together and add natural sweetness. (Related: 10 Naturally Sweet Date Recipes for Dessert)
  • Bittersweet chocolate: Only two ounces of chocolate are used, which isn't much considering the recipe yields eight servings. The small amount of chocolate is just enough to make these taste like a treat. If you use at least 60 percent dark chocolate, you'll also get theobromine, an antioxidant that has been shown to help reduce inflammation and helping to lower blood pressure. (More here: The Benefits of Milk vs. Dark Chocolate)

Not only do these bars require only three ingredients, but you also don't need to bake them, which makes them even easier to prep. Ready to give them a try? Full disclosure: Once you make these homemade, no-bake energy bars, you'll never want to buy pre-made bars again. (Also try making these other 3-ingredients recipes for Sweet and Salty Chocolate Bark, Almond Oat Energy Bites, and Mini Blueberry Muffin Bites.)

No-Bake Cashew Date Bars with Chocolate Drizzle

Makes: 8 bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups pitted dates
  • 2 oz at least 60% bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. In a small skillet over medium-low heat, toast cashews until slightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Add cooled cashews, dates, and salt to a blender or food processor. Pulse, scraping down sides with a wooden spoon occasionally, until batter is a smooth paste.
  3. Line an 8-inch square glass baking dish with parchment paper. Spoon batter into prepared baking dish (or divide between two dishes, if using) and, using clean fingers, push it into the baking dish and even out the top. Cover and refrigerate until bars solidify, at least 15 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  4. Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high, stirring every 20 seconds, until melted, about 1 minute.
  5. Remove baking dish from refrigerator and use a spoon to drizzle chocolate over bars. Place baking dish back into the refrigerator to set chocolate, at least 2 hours.
  6. Carefully remove bars by pulling out parchment paper and place on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut into eight even bars and serve. Store leftovers in a sealable container in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Copyright Toby Amidor, The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook: 100 Fast & Easy Recipes for Everyone. Robert Rose Books, October 2020. Photo courtesy of Ashley Lima. All Rights Reserved.

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