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Two (Mostly) Healthy Snacks to Make Ahead This Weekend

And what to keep in your pantry to make them.
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Few things make me feel as prepared for a week as a fridge stocked from a farmers' market run (bonus points if I have a loose meal plan) and homemade snacks in my pantry. While I'm happy as a clam with an apple or handful of raw cashews, there's something about knowing I have fresh date and coconut granola bars or roasted cashews that makes me feel like I've taken care of myself. Below are two snacks to make this weekend and enjoy all week:

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I'm a nut for cashews (heh, heh... sorry). I love them plain and raw, but often crave something a bit sweeter, especially post-lunch. After combining a few recipes (namely this one and this one), I landed on my personal favorite combination, with plenty of toasted sesame and coconut.

You will need:

2 cups raw cashews
1 tablespoon coconut oil (melted)
2 tablespoons agave (or honey, if you prefer)
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup shredded coconut flakes

Apologies for the dog hair on the shorts... 

Apologies for the dog hair on the shorts... 

How to make them:

1. Preheat oven to 300° F.

2. Place cashews on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

3. As the cashews roast, place the coconut oil, agave, and white sugar in a medium bowl and mix. Add cinnamon if using. To toast the sesame seeds, place them in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Toast for five minutes, stirring frequently, or until golden brown and fragrant.

4. Once ready, add cashews to the bowl with the coconut oil-sugar mixture. Toss to coat, then add the coconut and sesame seeds.

5. Spread the coated cashews in a single layer on the parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake for another 25 minutes. Allow to cool, then enjoy! Save in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

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These bars are adapted from Melissa Clark's adaptation of Frenchette Bakery's "Breakfast Bars with Oats and Coconut," so I guess you could say they're highly evolved. I first became a fan of their chewy texture, but have since made some tweaks for my personal preference—like making the recipe more home chef-friendly, but also adding in more coconut, swapping out granulated syrup for more brown sugar and date syrup, and adding in chopped dates. I love that these can be made ahead. I recommend prepping them in the evening, so they're ready to bake and have warm for breakfast the following morning, as they take about six hours to chill to allow the oats to hydrate.

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You will need:

1 2/3 cups rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup smooth almond butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon date syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup chopped dates (I used a mix of Medjool, which are soft and sweet, and Deglet, which hold their shape a bit better, but you can use either/both!)
5 tablespoons shelled, raw sunflower seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons flax seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Coconut oil spray, to grease pan

How to make them:

1. Place oats in a small bowl, add the baking soda on top, and gently mix together with a spoon. Set aside. 
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together the brown sugar, almond butter, date syrup, and butter until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg and egg white, salt, and vanilla. Mix until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. 

3. With the mixer on low, add in the oat/baking soda mixture, followed by the coconut flakes, chopped dates, and seeds. Leaving the dough in the mixing bowl, press a piece of beeswax or plastic wrap directly against the surface of the dough. Place in the refrigerator for 6 hours, or up to 2 days to allow the oats to hydrate.

4. Heat oven to 350° F.  Lightly spray a 9x9 inch baking pan with coconut oil spray, line it with parchment paper, and spray some more coconut oil on top. 

5. Scrape the chilled dough into the baking pan, and firmly press the mixture into the pan in an even layer using a greased spatula (this stuff is sticky!). 

6. Bake until the surface is golden-brown and firm, about 25 to 30 minutes.

7. Remove and allow the bars to cool completely in the pan. Once cooled, use a butter knife to cut along the edges of the pan and release the bars. Cut into 18 bars. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days. 

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You can make almost any delicious granola bar or homemade snack, by keeping the below ingredients on hand:

Unsweetened shredded coconut
Nut butters (I prefer almond)
Raw cashews
Sesame seeds*
Flax or chia seeds*
Dates
Date syrup
Brown and white sugar
Rolled oats
Eggs
Butter

*I usually buy specialty products I only use once in a while, like flax and sesame seeds, in the bulk section at the grocery store. This allows me to buy only what I need, saving money and avoiding food waste! Most bulk sections aren't allowing you to bring your own containers at the moment, but hopefully they do soon! I'm usually that person rolling into the grocery store with ten mason jars. No shame in the game!

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