Celebrate with something naturally sweet!

Recently there was a bit of a celebration in our family. My husband joined a kickboxing studio 6 months ago and celebrated his 100th class! It was so much fun to see how his hard work continues to pay off and how much he enjoys going. The people at the studio are fun, fabulous and inspiring! Not only did they give him a special t-shirt, he got to be the first to sign their 100 class board and we took a special class photo.
It is so nice to celebrate milestones, whether it's 25 or 50 classes or more, it is nice to be recognized for your hard work and dedication. It would be wonderful if we could have more of these fun celebrations in all aspects of our lives. If work decided to celebrate your job well done on a special project or your kids being part of a team for 5 years, just being recognized in front of your peers is a special nod. I know there are opportunities where this happens already and cakes, cookies and special treats are served. When my husbands milestone was coming I knew those types of sweets would not be the right way to celebrate the hard work everyone puts in. So my immediate thought was energy bars!
With naturally sweet Medjool dates, nuts and cocoa powder these little bite size bars are perfect for sharing or to make for yourself to give you a little energy boost before or after your workout. Be sure to celebrate with a naturally sweet treat!

Date Cashew Energy Bars

These soft, slightly sweet texture of Medjool dates and tender crunch of buttery cashews, together they combine for a treat to enjoy in the afternoon or pack in your purse or workout bag for a quick energy boost.

2 cups (500 mL) pitted and chopped Medjool dates
2 cups (500 mL) salted and roasted cashews
1/2 cup (125 mL) raw almonds (with skin)
3/4 cup (175 mL) unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) unsweetened coconut (optional)
1/4 cup (60 mL) vanilla flavoured protein powder
2 tbsp (30 mL) vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60 mL) water (approx)

Line a 13 x 9 inch or 11 x 7 inch (3 L or 2.5 L) rectangle baking pan with plastic wrap; set aside. (Using the smaller pan will give you a thicker bar.)

In a large food processor bowl, pulse together dates, cashews and almonds. Add cocoa powder, coconut and protein powder; turn on processor until nuts look like coarse crumbs. Pulse in protein powder and vanilla. Turn processor on and drizzle in enough of the water until mixture forms a ball. Turn off processor and scrape mixture into the prepared pan. Cover with another layer of plastic wrap and press down on mixture to flatten evenly. Refrigerate for about 1 hour or until firm. Cut into small bars as desired.

Make-ahead: Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Tip: For a chewier texture, freeze the bars and enjoy from the freezer (great for long drives to stay fresh).


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