Healthy Snack On-The-Go: Tropical Fruit & Nut Bars
About three years ago, I got stuck in an elevator on my way out for lunch for over two hours with eleven other people.
Two takeaways. 1) One, never get into a crowded elevator. 2) Two, always carry a snack!
While it’s been a while since I’ve found myself ravenous and crammed in a 4′ by 6′ chamber with eleven grumpy strangers, keeping a snack within reach at all times has become one of the most crucial facets of maintaining a healthy, balanced dietary lifestyle. By not allowing myself to ever be too hungry, I’m much more likely to make better food choices, enjoy reasonable portions, and feel more focused and energized.
My favorite fuel to keep handy is fruit and nut bars. They are tasty, nutritious, pre-portioned, and never fail to replenish my energy. Best of all, they can be made in advance in less than ten minutes, then stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator or freezer for up to a month.
This recipe is particularly useful because of its versatility. I like to mix-and-match different ingredients each time I make a batch of bars to keep snack time fun.
Start with the recipe below for Tropical Fruit & Nut Bars, then use it as a template and let your imagination run wild. So long as you stick with the same ratio of fruit, nuts, and add-ins, you’ll be bound to have phenomenally flavorful and nutritious bars.
Ingredients & Method (Yield: 6 bars, Serving Size: 1 bar)
- 1 cup dried dates
- 1/4 cup almonds
- 1/4 cup peanuts
- 1/4 cup pecans
- 1/4 cup pistachios
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup dried mango
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp orange zest
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1 tbsp water, if needed
Using a food processor, blend the dates and nuts until combined. Add dark chocolate, vanilla, orange zest, and coconut oil to the food processor and pulse until the ingredients are evenly dispersed in the fruit-nut mixture. Avoid over mixing. The bars will hold their structure much easier with more texture. If dry, add in 1 tbsp of water.
Shape the fruit-nut mixture into bars, wrap individually in parchment paper or plastic wrap, and refrigerate or freeze in an airtight container.
Tips for creating your own customized snack bar:
Using the same steps as procedure above, exchange the dried dates with one cup of dried figs, prunes, or raisins. Combine one cup of any nuts or seeds of your choice (i.e. almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, sunflower kernels). Exchange the dark chocolate chips and dried mango with dried coconut, coffee beans, shredded carrot, or other dried fruit and nuts. The vanilla and orange zest can be exchanged with 1-2 tablespoons of any spice, herb, or extract.