Monday, May 7, 2018

and the secret ingredient is....

Last year when sister Janet and I were in Australia, I discovered these yummy eats – the original vendor in Manly called them figgy seed bars. I was in love with them! We later went to New Zealand and visited Janet’s friend’s brother whose wife made ‘Sticky Seed Flapjacks’ from a recipe book she had. They were close to the Manly bars but something was missing and when I told her I liked to hack recipes, she offered me hers as a starter.
Apparently Birdseed Bars are a thing in NZ - in one of our lodgings (they all had cookbooks, Jamie Oliver being the most popular) I found a recipe by Angela Langbein which I unabashedly copied!
 Back at home in Thunder Bay, I began experimenting.
Spoiler Alert – these are not a cheap, quick snack but they are well worth the effort. I made them several times over the summer, getting progressively closer but something was still missing.
When I was out in Vancouver last October visiting other sister, Marnie, I found a homemade style granola bar at Meinhardt on Granville Street – they call it their ‘Grind’ bar (why, I don’t know) – it was quite different and not exactly my favourite thing but there was just something about it that triggered the missing component for me – theirs did have an ingredient list and there it was, staring me in the face – molasses!
After many batches and trials, here’s my last version:
Figgy Nutbars
1 1/2 C chopped pitted dates
1 1/2 C chopped figs
1 C cashews
1 C hazelnuts or almonds
2 Tbsp molasses
3 1/2 C old fashioned oatmeal
1 C pumpkin seeds
1/2 C sunflower seeds
2Tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp sea salt
Preheat oven to 350F.
Roast nuts for 10 minutes.
Line half sheet tray (12” X 8”) with parchment.
Place chopped dates and figs in pot with 2 C water. Bring to a boil and simmer to soften. Take off heat and allow to cool slightly. Put into food processor (should now be about 4 cups). Add the molasses. Whiz/pulse 2-3 times – I like it chunky, so you still know there are dates and figs. Remove to large mixing bowl.
Put roasted nuts in processor bowl (no need to clean in between) with 3/4 C water and blitz till smooth. Add to date mixture.
In same processor bowl, put oats and salt and pulse about 1 minute to rough chop. Add 1/2 C pumpkin seeds, 1/4 C sunflower seeds and 1 Tbsp chia seeds and pulse for another 15 seconds. Add to date/nut mixture. Stir/mix by hand thoroughly.
Spread mixture in sheet tray to 1.5/2 cm. Sprinkle the remaining pumpkin, chia and sunflower seeds over and press down to set them into the mixture.
Bake for 35 minutes.
Cool for 1 hour before cutting into bars.

For more details and close-up photos check out my food blogpost at

Janet and I are off to Ireland at the end of May – we’d love for you to join us!

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