Initially I developed this recipe, because I needed to find a quick snack (without any kind of “added sugars”) food option for Moritz. Lot’s of the ingredients are tasty, nutritious and good for our health. They help us to maintain a healthy body weight, to improve our overall mood and to reduce our risk of developing diseases.

Instead of sugar I used dates as a natural sweetener source. They are incredible sweet and a great source of fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin A and K and several plant compounds. Of all of the dried fruit, they are one of the richest sources of antioxidants, contributing to reduce oxidative damage in body. Dates have a low glycemic index, which means that eating them should not cause major spikes in blood sugar levels  (For more about dried fruits and added sugar see “Additional Infornation”).

Three (Apples, Almonds and Oats) of the ingredients in the recipe are one of the top ten foods considered to be the most healthy, according to surveys and sources across North America and Western Europe (For  nutrional facts about this three ingredients see “Additional Infornation”).

These delicious and healthy bars are quick and easy to make and they can also be prepared in bulk batches so that you have reserve stores for the whole week ahead.

There are lots of variation recipes of these bars and this recipe is also pretty forgiving. Feel free to use the apples with their skin (most of the fiber and antioxidants are in the peel) or you can also add some raisins, preserved orange peel or any other dried fruits (see “Additional Information”); always make sure to check the nutrition facts on the package of the dried fruits for no extra added sugar!

Tipp:  It is easy to slice the baked “cake” into bars, once it is cooled completely. I always put it into the fridge for at least two hours or even overnight before cutting.

These  Apple – Cinnamon – Oat – Bars taste perfectly fine without any glaze, but if you would like to have a little extra treat, I definitely recommend to go for my  Maple – Cocoa – Glaze. It’s the small things which make us happy! I developed this glaze as an “add on” or let’s call it “The Little Something Extra”. The combination of the apples and the maple syrup is just perfect.

You can find the recipe for the Maple – Cocoa – Glaze in my upcoming post on the 4th of March.

Apples: As one of the most cultivated and consumed fruits in the world, apples are continuously being praised as “miracle food”. They are extremely rich in dietary fiber, flavonoid and the important antioxidants, which combat free radicals. Free radicals are damaging substances generated in the body that cause undesirable changes and are involved in the aging process and some diseases. Of course they also have many nutrients like for example Vitamin C, B – Complex Vitamins and minerals such as calcium, potassium and phosphorus, etc.

Almonds: Second on the list of top 10 healthy foods is almonds. Almonds are packed with vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber, and are associated with a number of health benefits. Just a handful of almonds, approximately one ounce, contains one – eight of our necessary daily protein.

Almonds are a source of Vitamin E, copper, magnesium, and high quality protein and they have more fiber than any other tree nut. The fatty acid profile of almonds, which is made up of 91 – 94 % unsaturated fatty acids, may partly explain why it helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

Oats: The interest in oatmeal has increased considerably over the last twenty years because of its health benefits. Oats are rich in complex carbohydrates, as well as water-soluble fiber, which slow digestion down and stabilize levels of blood – glucose. Oatmeal is very rich in B-Vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. Coarse or steel-cut oats contain more fiber than instant varieties.

Dried Fruit is high in natural sugar and calories because they tend to contain significant amounts of natural sugars. The information about dried fruit is very conflicting. Some say it is a nutritious, healthy snack, while others claim it is no better than candy.

What is dried Fruit? Dried fruit has had almost all of the water content removed through drying methods. The fruit shrinks during the process, leaving a small, energy-dense dried fruit.

Dried fruit is highly nutritious – it is loaded with micronutrients, fiber and antioxidants but the Vitamin C content is significantly reduced when fruit is dried!

Dried fruit can be preserved for much longer than fresh fruit and can be a handy snack, particularly on long trips where refrigeration is not available.

Because the water has been removed from dried fruit, this concentrates all the sugar and calories in a much smaller package. For this reason, dried fruit is very high in calories and sugar (including both glucose and fructose) and because it is so sweet and energy dense, it is easy to eat large amount at a time, which can result in excess sugar and calorie intake. A small 1 – ounce portion of raisins contains 84 calories, almost exclusively from sugar!

Avoid dried fruit with “added sugar”  – It is very important to make the distinction between added sugars and sugars that occur naturally in foods like fruits or vegetables. These are healthy foods that contain water, fiber and various micronutrients. The naturally occurring sugars are absolutely fine. Added sugar on the other hand has repeatedly been shown to harmful effects on health increasing the risk of obesity, heart disease and even cancer.

Added sugars are those that are added to foods. The most common added sugars are regular table sugar (sucrose) or high fructose corn syrup. These sugars provide no nutritional benefits.

Honey or Maple Syrup is natural, but it’s also very caloric. The main thing that sets maple syrup apart from refined sugar is the fact that it also contains some minerals and antioxidants. The glycemic index of maple syrup seems to be around 54, compared to table sugar which has a glycemic index of around 65, which implies that maple syrup raises blood sugar slower than regular sugar.

The bottom line is that maple syrup is a “less bad” version of sugar, kind of like honey and coconut sugar. There are a number of antioxidants found in maple syrup, but the amount is still low compared to the large amount of sugar. So we have to keep in mind that same as with all sugar – based sweeteners, if we are going to eat it, we have to make sure to do it in moderation.

Dried fruit with added sugar are also referred to as “candied” fruit. To make some dried fruit even more sweet, they are coated with added sugar or syrup before being dried.

To avoid dried fruit that contains added sugar, it is very important to read the ingredients and nutrition information found on the package.

Some producers add preservatives called sulfites to their dried fruit. This makes the dried fruit more appealing, because it preserves the fruit and prevents discoloration. Some individuals may be sensitive to sulfites, especially young children!

As a mother I think the take home message is that same as with many other foods, dried fruits have both good and bad aspects.

Dried fruit can boost your fiber and nutrient intake and supply your body with large amounts of antioxidants. However they are also high in sugar and calories, and can cause problems when eaten in excess. At the end of the day, dried fruit is far from perfect, but is certainly a much healthier and more nutritious snack than other processed “healthy snacks” you find in your grocery stores.

To the recipe
Ingredient Overview

Ingredients – Overview

Ingredients Overview

Ground the nuts and the oats in your food processor.

Soaked and Strained Dates

Soak the dates in water for a few minutes; this way it is easier to blend them. Keep the leftover soaking water to sweeten your smothies, lemon water or tea.

Date Jam

Puree soaked dates in your food processor until smooth.

Orange and Lemon Zest

Optional: Finely grate the zest of 1 lemon or one orange (about 1 tablespoon). Remember to zest only the outer layer of the lemon skin: The white pith has an unpleasant bitter flavor.

Grated Apples

Finely grated apples.

Apple - Oat - Date Mixture

Put the oats and the nuts in a food processor and blitz until the mixture is coarse and crumbly, add the dates and coarse again.

Add Apples

Now grate the apples with a large hole cheeses grater straight into the mixture.

Apple - Nut - Oat - Date Mixture

Combine the grated apples and the nut – oat – date mixture.

Basic Recipe

Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin or baking sheet and by pressing down the mixture create a flat even layer. Bake the bars in the preheated oven  (180 Degrees Celsius) for around 45 minutes.

Variation with Oranges and Raisins

Optional: Add raisins and orange peel. Transfer two-thirds of the crumb mixture into prepared pan, and press into bottom and up sides. Arrange raisins and orange peel over bottom layer of the dough. Cover with remaining crumb mixture.

Preserved-Organes

Oranges – orangepeel; Cook orange slices in a medium saucepan of simmering water for 1 minute. Drain, and repeat. Let cool copletly and cut into small chunks.

Dried-Fruits-Raisins

Variation of three different raisins.

Chilled-Cake-Ready-to-cut

It is easy to slice the baked “cake” into bars, once it is cooled completely. I always put it into the fridge for at least two hours or even overnight before cutting.

Cut-into-Bars

With a large and very sharp knife, start cutting.

Cut-into-small-bars

Cut into equal rectangles.

Apple-Cinnamon-Oat-Bars

Apple Cinnamon Oat Bars

Apple-Cinnamon-Oat-Bars with Oranges and Raisins

Apple Cinnamon Oat Bars with Orange and Raisins.

Apple-Cinnamon-Oat-Bars

Bars will keep in an airtight container at room temperature up to one week.

Apple Cinnamon Oat Bars

Initially I developed this recipe, because I needed to find a quick snack (without any kind of “added sugars”) food option for Moritz. Lot’s of the ingredients are tasty, nutritious and good for our health. They help us to maintain a healthy body weight, to improve our overall mood and to reduce our risk of developing diseases.
Instead of sugar I used dates as a natural sweetener source. They are incredible sweet and a great source of fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin A and K and several plant compounds. Of all of the dried fruit, they are one of the richest sources of antioxidants, contributing to reduce oxidative damage in body. Dates have a low glycemic index, which means that eating them should not cause major spikes in blood sugar levels  (For more about dried fruits and added sugar see "Additional Infornation").
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Dessert
Servings: 1 large baking sheet
Author: Maria Haydn

Ingredients

  • 225 g almonds and/or roasted hazelnuts, freshly grounded
  • 225 g pitted dates soaked
  • 225 g eating apples finely grated and peeled
  • 150 g rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon ground
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg freshly grated
  • 1/2 tsp coriander ground
  • 1/2 tsp ginger ground
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom ground
  • 1 peel of one organic orange optional
  • 1 peel of one organic lemon optional

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 180 Degrees Celsius with rack in center position.
  • Line a baking tray with parchment paper; if using a baking tin, leave enough parchment on the sides to use as “handles” for pulling out the finished bars; set aside.
  • Place dates in a small saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a simmer. Drain reserving cooking water and reserve liquid for another use. Puree dates in a food processor until smooth.
  • Optional: Finely grate the zest of 1 lemon or one orange (about 1 tablespoon). Remember to zest only the outer layer of the lemon skin: The white pith has an unpleasant bitter flavor.
  • Put the oats and the nuts in a food processor and blitz until the mixture is coarse and crumbly, add the dates and coarse again.
  • In a large bowl, toss together the oats, nuts, dates salt, and dried fruit (optional).
  • Now grate the apples with a large hole cheeses grater straight into the mixture and combine well together.
  • Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin or baking sheet and by pressing down the mixture create a flat even layer.
  • Bake the bars in the preheated oven for around 45 minutes.
  • Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack; if used a baking tin, lift out of the pan.
  • Cut into equal rectangles. Bars will keep in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days.

Notes

There are lots of variation recipes of these bars and this recipe is also pretty forgiving. Feel free to use the apples with their skin (most of the fiber and antioxidants are in the peel) or you can also add some raisins, preserved orange peel or any other dried fruits.
Tipp: It is easy to slice the baked “cake” into bars, once it is cooled completely. I always put it into the fridge for at least two hours or even overnight before cutting.