Energy balls, bliss balls, Lara bars, energy squares have become so popular and it is easy to understand why. They are quick and easy to put together, are ready in only about 5 minutes and require no baking. Flavoured with cardamom, ginger and orange zest, these healthy energy squares are great little snacks to pack for a hike, take on a camping trip, or for that mid afternoon energy boost.
Although they are sweet, they contain no sugar or added sweetener, the sweet taste is only from the apricots. When fruit is dried, much of the moisture is removed leaving a concentrated source of natural sugar. Dried fruit is ideal for making energy bars and squares as it provides quick energy, sweet taste and also serves as the sticky substance to bind the ingredients together. Dried fruit can be combined with many different seeds or nuts to make an endless variety of dense energy snacks.
Dried fruit/nuts/seeds combinations can be dense in texture but also dense in nutrients and calories. One way to lighten them up is with fresh fruits or vegetables, such as freshly grated carrots. The carrots combine beautifully with dried apricots and cashews. The spices add great flavours and the salt pulls all the flavours together. Fresh orange juice adds a little liquid to further bind them together.
In my experimenting I also have an alternate version of these squares which have hemp seeds and milled flax. The hemp offers valuable nutrients and protein and the flax offers important fatty acids and fibre. They are equally tasty with slightly different flavours.
Carrot, Cashew and Apricot Squares
Makes 22 squares
1 1/4 cup grated carrot (not packed)
3/4 cup dried apricots
3/4 cup cashews, unsalted
1/2 cup coconut, unsweetened
Zest of 1 large orange
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp dried ginger
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
Variation: Substitute 1/4 cup hemp seeds and 1/4 cup milled flax in place of the coconut.
Place dried apricots in food processor and pulse a few times to chop them up. Add cashews, orange zest, and spices and pulse a few more times. Add coconut and carrot and pulse until mixture is quite finely chopped and starting to hold together. Add orange juice 1 tablespoon at a time until you can form mixture into balls or squares. Place in refrigerator to firm up for about 30 minutes. Store them in the refrigerator.
This recipe is vegan and gluten free and contains no added sugar.
Two squares contain 120 calories, 3 grams of sugar and 3 grams of protein and 2 grams of fibre. Excellent source of potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C.
People often ask where I got the silicone mat to make these perfect squares. I use it quite a lot for small size snacks and treats like these energy squares or for my Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies (with black beans). I got it from Michaels and it is made by Wilton.
This recipe was adapted from Wildhealthfood.com.