Delicious almond bars topped with a berry chia jam rich in antioxidants and healthy fats! Did I mention it requires no baking?
Nowadays we all want something simple and convenient. I get it! With our busy lives, we are all on that one mission to find quick AND healthy meals. Unfortunately, most convenient foods out there are not the healthiest choices and we end up sacrificing nutritious foods for more free time. Lately, I have started doing a breakfast meal prep for the week ahead. Anything from overnight oats to these homemade almond bars, I am there! This gives me an extra half hour in the morning and makes life just a little easier.
I have been wanting to use almond butter for sometime now and thought it would be an excellent protein-packed addition to my homemade energy bars. These almond bars are excellent with yogurt for a healthy and simple breakfast or an afternoon or post workout snack. I had seen a berry jam before using chia seeds to thicken them more quickly. Thanks to The Kitchn’s Berry Chia Jam recipe for the inspiration for such a genius idea! Instead of using excessive amounts of added sugar, the omega 3-rich chia seeds and only a drizzle of maple syrup (or honey) will do the trick.
A berry healthy jam!
Berries, besides being an absolutely beautiful fruit, are also packed with antioxidants known as anthocyanins. Have you ever noticed the eye catching red, purple, and blue pigments on most produce? It is likely these fruits and vegetables contain anthocyanins that give such appealing pigments. Despite the attraction, it appears that we, as consumers, are not getting enough of these beneficial phytochemicals. According to the 2007-2010 NHANES, Americans are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. Instead, we are loading up on meat and refined sugars. If you have a natural sweet tooth, try some colorful fruits in place of your next cookie craving. If you’re a meat and potatoes fan, have your favorite lean protein with a side of brighter vegetables next time. Can I get a kale yeah?
The mysterious Anthocyanins
When we are not getting these amazing anthocyanins in our diet we are missing out on some serious health benefits. At the cellular level, they act as antioxidants by fighting free radicals, and further, preventing chronic disease risk. Research may suggest a decreased risk for heart disease thanks to its positive effects on blood pressure and the structure of the arteries.
According to a recent article in Food and Nutrition Magazine, these flavonoids, a group of plant chemicals that anthocynanins belong to, can be difficult in research. They are not easy to narrow down thanks to their multiple compounds and teamwork with other nutrients to become stronger and more powerful. Even better, there are about 600 types of anthocyanins already identified.
Research is still out there, but don’t let that stop you from getting your hands on these brightly colored fruits and vegetables. And that doesn’t mean to ignore the frozen variety either. Frozen fruits can actually provide greater amounts of nutrients! Since they are harvested at their peak and then frozen, this type of method retains their high quality nutrition. My best advice to you? Eat the produce rainbow!
These bars can last in the refrigerator for up to one week. If preferred, place in the freezer to maximize time to three months. The jam can also be frozen for a longer shelf life of three months.
- 10-12 dates, pitted (previously soaked in water to soften)
- 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons rolled oats (if gluten sensitive, make sure certified gluten free)
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flax meal
- 3/4 cup unsalted almond butter
- Chia Jam:
- 1 1/2 cups berries, fresh or frozen
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- In a large food processor, combine all of the ingredients for the almond bars and pulse until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, feel free to add up to 1/4 cup water to thin out the batter.
- Pour the mixture into a parchment lined baking pan, such as an 8 x 8. Cover the top layer with parchment paper and smooth it out using your hands or the bottom of a thick container to flatten.
- Place in the freezer for at least one hour or the refrigerator for a minimum of three hours to harden.
- Optional: Spread the jam before or after placing in the freezer.
- To prevent the jam from sticking to the parchment paper, I spread coconut flakes on top for an additional (and fun) topping.
- For the jam: In a small skillet or sauce pan, simmer the berries until the fruit loosens and forms a syrup consistency, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Stir in the maple syrup and chia seeds. Allow time for thickening.
If you prefer a different nut or seed butter feel free to substitute it. These bars make a great part of a breakfast meal or post workout snack!