Salty sweet maple, coconut and cranberry bars

I don’t use maple syrup often but when you need a salty-sweet hit to fulfil your wildest food fantasies, it always becomes a faithful unrefined ally. I sometimes have dreams of one day travelling to an endless maple forest and tasting it fresh from the tree… intoxicated by the fresh Canadian air and infinite imprints of the beautiful golden maple leaves against crisp blue skies. But until then, the organic uncut bottled version will have to work.

I discovered the basis for this recipe by Elana of Elana’s Pantry via my friend and fellow nutritionist Rebecca Andrist, when we served them on a conscious cooking retreat in Somerset in the spring, and they met with infinite gratitude and appreciation. One bite, and it’s not hard to see why. I know my sweet tooth is highly evolved but add female moon cycle cravings and the general need for homemade treats to fall back on instead of yet another shop bought protein ball in a foil wrapper that tastes of almost nothing, and we have a healthy snack hole that needs constant filling.

I was keen to recreate them with what my kitchen shelves and local store provided, and with the addition (or substitution) of some tigernut flour, fibrous chia and tart cranberries, here is a deluxe version of a wonderfully versatile recipe that lends itself to almost any nut / seed / dried fruit variation. You could also add cacao nibs, chopped dried banana or some cinnamon and ginger.

I tried to hide them from Ben in various places in the kitchen but he soon found them all and away they went. Perhaps a double batch is worth the time and investment.

As always, be sure to buy organic wherever possible – but especially when it comes to maple syrup as the cheaper versions are highly processed and usually cut with hidden syrups to lower the cost – and purity.

Enjoy x

Makes about 12 bitesize pieces

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup ground almond or tigernut

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla paste or extract

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

1 cup pumpkin and / or sunflower seeds

1/4 cup roughly chopped or sliced almonds

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1 tbsp chia seeds

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine the almond or tigernut flour, salt, and bicarbonate of soda. Add the coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla and stir thoroughly. Then mix in the seeds, cranberries and desiccated coconut.

Line a small baking dish (around 20cm by 20cm) with baking parchment or grease it with a little coconut oil, and transfer the mixture. Pat it down nice and firmly so it is packed in and evenly spread.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden, and cool thoroughly before breaking or slicing into chunks. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

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