CHERRY-PUMPKIN OAT BARS

Whether it is a long day of travel, a big teaching day or refueling after a winter hike, snacks are an essential part of my everyday. If I fail to have snacks on hand, my blood sugar plummets and it is hard to maintain a clear presence.  To stay nourished and at the top of my potential throughout the day,  I have an arsenal of snacks at home, at the office and tucked in my day bag.  Most store bought snacks are loaded with sugar so I am regularly on a quest to make the most nutritious snacks from the comfort of my kitchen.

These no-bake cherry-pumpkin oat bars are superb as they are power packed with whole food ingredients and low in sugar.  According to a Huffington Post article, pumpkin is claimed to impressively boost vision, heart health, mood and the immune system.  You could swap out the nuts and dried fruit I chose, for any variety that you love.

It is not absolutely necessary, but for best digestibility, I soak and roast the nuts and seeds as well as roast the oats.  Given these are no-bake bars they are best stored in the freezer.  I take a few of out of the freezer in the morning, placing them in a container or wrap,  then toss them into my bag for the day.  Within a short time, they will thaw and be ready to eat.

4 c oats
1/3 c almonds
1/3 c pecans
1/3 c hazelnuts
1/3 c pumpkin seeds
1/2 c coconut flakes
1/2 c dried cherries
1 c almond butter
1 c pureed pumpkin, fresh or canned
1/4 c maple syrup
1 tsp salt

  1.  In a food processor combine oats, nuts, seeds, coconut flakes and cherries, processing until chopped.
  2. Add remaining ingredients, process until throughly mixed.  If your food processor can’t handle so much mass, you can remove from the processor, and mix in a large bowl with your hands.
  3. Press the mix evenly into  9×13 glass dish.
  4. Place in the freezer for a few hours until it becomes a hardened bar.
  5. Cut into squares and store the  bars in a airtight container in the freezer until a short time before you are ready to eat them.
Soaking + Roasting 101
For oats-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the dry oats on a cookie sheet with rims or a large oven safe dish.  I used two 9×13 glass dishes for 4 cups of oats. Roast the oats, until they are fragrant, typically 15 minutes, every 5-10 minutes stirring or shaking to allow for even roasting.  Do not let them brown or burn as the flavor will not be as good!
For the nuts + seeds-in a large glass bowl, cover the nuts and seeds with cold water and a half teaspoon of salt.  Allow to soak for 6-12 hours.  Drain and rinse well.   Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the soaked nuts and seeds on a cookie sheet with rims or large oven safe dish.  Roast the nuts and seeds for 8-20 minutes, every 5 minutes stirring or shaking to allow for even roasting.  If you’d like extra crispy nuts, then roast them at 175 degrees for 12 hours or place in a food dehydrator.

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