Tri Fruit Hazelnut Bars

Anyone ever try a Body Pump class?  I tried one for the first time while I was in Sonora. The workout was great but the experience was even better.  Great people watching in that class, I tell ya…and with an instructor who sings along to Eye of the Tiger while you’re on your 100th weighted squat, there’s really no reason not to become a Body Pump regular.

During the 100th weighted squat, I had a very distinct brownie craving. Very distinct.  I typically always have brownie cravings, especially when I peruse other food blogs and receive stunning visuals of thin mint or Oreo stuffed brownies, brownies with stout, brownie pudding with ice cream, ice cream with brownie swirls, brown butter brownies (I say this in jest – I haven’t seen a brown butter brownie yet, but I know I will by early next week, what with EVERYTHING containing brown butter in it…I don’t even know what that is), caramel infused brownies with whipped cream and by golly, need I continue?  These brownies are always presented (by my fellow power house food bloggers who I adore) on gorgeous dishes with wonderful colors and the brownie just sells itself.  MMM!  I love these visual brownie experiences, I do…and I wish I could partake in brownie madness but I have very little control when sugar hits my palate, so I choose to stay away from brownies as much as possible.  Phew. It’s a hard knock life being a non-brownie eating brownie lover.

Case in point: I. Love. Brownies. And I craved them desperately during my Eye of the Tiger Body Pump core workout; yet out of this craving came something just as satisfying (if not more, as the guilt factor is entirely eliminated): hazelnut bars. These are more of an energy bar than a dessert, but they are a sweet {entirely sugar-less except for natural fructose} treat that should be consumed with every meal if you ask me.  Yes, I’ll have a bowl of chili and a hazelnut bar. Mmkay, thanks.

Hazelnut meal is just wonderful. If you have tried almond meal or anything similar, you must try hazelnut.  Hazelnuts are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which help lower your cholesterol , blood pressure and risk of heart disease (you know, as long as you eat other healthy stuff, too).  Hazelnuts have a high fat content, which is important when you consider that certain vitamins and minerals are fat soluble (need fat to absorb the vitamins properly), specifically Vitamins K, E, D and A.

 

This website I read stated that studies show those who have suffered a heart attack have had a 50% better survival rate if they consume hazelnuts or hazelnut oil.  The article also states that hazelnuts are “the best source” of Vitamin E, which….okay, whatever, let’s just say hazelnuts are a good source of Vitamin E.  They are also packed with antioxidants, help relax and build blood vessels and muscles , are high in B Vitamins and I think you get the point.

 

So folks, let’s try something new.  Keep your brown butter recipes, but add in a recipe or two with hazelnut meal.  You can use it in cakes, cookies, tartes (stay tuned, as I will be posting a tarte recipe in April using hazelnut meal), energy bars, you name it.  Hey, you could try a brown butter brownie with hazelnut meal – that would be GREAT!

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 dried figs (I used white figs, but the brown ones work just great too!)
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1-1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Hazelnut Meal
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup honey (optional for a sweeter bar)

 

To Bake:

Preheat to 350 degrees. Put some water in your tea kettle and bring to a boil. Prepare a 9 x 9 baking dish with parchment paper.  Place the dried figs and dried apricots and a mug and pour hot water over them until completely covered. I do this step to soften the dried fruit, accetuate the natural sugars and allow the fruit to help bind the ingredients. I don’t think this step is necessary for the cranberries.  Allow the apricots and figs to sit for about 5 minutes, then drain. When cool enough to handle, chop the figs and apricots.

 

In a mixer or mixing bowl, add eggs, coconut milk, olive oil, and almond extract.  Mix until combined.  Add the hazelnut meal, oats, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Mix until combined.  Add all of the fruit and mix until combined.

 

If you are adding honey to the recipe, now is the time to do so.

Pour the batter into the parchment-lined baking dish and bake 35 minutes, until the edges of the bars are golden brown and they are stiff to the touch.  Allow bars to sit at least 30 minutes before cutting.

 

 

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