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The cherry-chocolate energy bar you must try

Wave goodbye to hunger with a gluten- and sugar-free energy bar that’s great for breakfast and perfect to avoid the mid-afternoon crash.

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Tara Miller's homemade chocolate energy bars

Tara Miller’s homemade chocolate energy bars (Photo Tara Miller).

Everyone loves the convenience of an energy bar. They’re great post-workout fuel, as a quick meal on the go and great to store at your desk for those inevitable 3 p.m. cravings. But, what’s really inside those flashy, store-bought packages? If you turn them around and read the long list of ingredients, you’ll quickly find that most contain words you can’t pronounce, sandwiched between 101 different names for sugar. These bars may provide energy, but so will a chocolate bar — for a little while. What you really want is a snack full of protein and healthy fats to keep you satiated for longer periods, with just the right amount of sweetness from natural, unrefined sources.

That’s where this vegan, gluten- and refined-sugar free bar (made with only whole food ingredients) comes in. This raw energy bar is healthy enough for breakfast, delicious enough for dessert and perfect any time in between.

The goods:
Dates are naturally sweet, making them a great source of immediate energy as well as the perfect food post workout. They’re full of vitamins and minerals and high in soluble fibre helping to eliminate toxins and keep you regular.

Dried tart cherries are a pantry staple of Dr. Oz’s. They’re anti-inflammatory and full of antioxidants, which have been shown to help fight heart disease and even prevent episodes of gout.

Tahini, a paste made from ground sesame seeds, is a great source of calcium. It’s full of healthy fat content (helping you stay satisfied longer) and a great substitute for nut butters.

Coconut butter is made up of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), fatty acids that are easily burned by our body and have been linked to weight loss. MCTs also play a positive role in cognitive health and have even been shown to help with symptoms of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Raw cacao is a nutrient powerhouse. It’s high in antioxidants, protein, essential fatty acids and magnesium making it energizing and nourishing.

Pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts and chia seeds are all very high sources of protein, fibre and omega 3. Their balance of protein and healthy fats mean they keep blood sugar levels stable and energy levels sustained for longer periods of time.

Tara Miller's homemade chocolate energy bars

Tara Miller’s homemade chocolate cherry energy bars (Photo Tara Miller)

Ingredients
Wet

1 cup dates (pits removed)
¾ cup dried cherries
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup coconut butter
¼ cup water
¼ cup cacao powder
1 tbsp. maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla

Dry
¼ cup hemp hearts (plus more for top)
¼ cup chia seeds
¼ cup black sesame seeds
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
¼ cup coconut flakes (plus more for top)
½ cup oats

Directions
1. In a food processor mix the wet ingredients until well combined

2. In a large bowl add the wet and dry ingredients, using your hands to blend well

3. Line a 9 x 9-inch dish with parchment paper and fill with mixture. Press down with your hands to spread evenly and pack tightly

4. Sprinkle with extra hemp hearts and coconut flakes

5. Put in freezer for 30 minutes to set. Cut into individual pieces and store in fridge

Makes 14 bars

Nutrition (per serving, 56 grams)
Calories 221
Calories from fat 113
Total fat 13 g
Saturated fat 4 g
Trans fat 0
Cholesterol 0
Sodium 13 mg
Total carbohydrates 26 g
Dietary fibre 7 g
Sugars 13 g
Protein 5 g

Get more incredibly healthy recipes from Tara Miller here.

Tara Miller is a Toronto-based holistic nutritionist. Her educational background is from The Institute of Holistic Nutrition combined with a degree in psychology from the University of Guelph. This combination allows Tara to address the challenges individuals face when it comes to everyday healthy living. Tara is also the owner of the Health Hut Boutique in Muskoka where she offers effective and toxic-free beauty, household and specialty food items. You can follow her blog for holistic recipes and tips at taramillernutrition.com.