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Well, today I decided to make these delicious, vegan, chocolaty energy, hazelnut bars because I was seriously hungry. I don’t know if it happens to everyone or it’s just me, but as far as I can remember, during winter I add at least an extra snack in my daily menu since, when the weather is getting colder, my appetite increases. Sometimes I tried to avoid eating this extra thing, in order to keep my calorie intake balanced but eventually the hunger was coming unannounced and when I wasn’t organized properly, I was ending up eating anything available. At home it was not so difficult to choose some fruits and nuts, but at work I would choose between chocolates, crackers and pretzels, ending up with 2 more pounds until the end of the winter even if I was trying to eat healthy. However lately I try to organize better my snacks firstly by preparing them at home.

A delightful idea for snacking are these homemade vegan energy bars made with cereals and nuts, as they are filling and easy to carry in my bag. What I like most is that, apart from keeping me full, they also provide a sufficient amount of essential omega-3 fatty acids that are found in the flaxseeds. Besides their sweet taste, thanks to the raisins, especially when combined with cocoa and hazelnuts give the sense of a yummy, chewy dessert rather than a snack, although the recipe is sugar-free. As these chocolaty energy bars only take few minutes to prepare, you can make a batch in advance for snacking during week! In this recipe I love to roast the nuts for a while in the oven in order to highlight their wonderful aroma, but you can also skip this step to keep your energy bars 100% raw.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (150 g) raisins
  • 1 cup (100 g) rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup (30-35 g) cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup raw hazelnuts, divided (¼ + ¼)
  • 1 tbsp water (if necessary)

Method

1. Soak the raisins in water for fifteen minutes and drain well. Bake hazelnuts for fifteen minutes at 150 oC, allow them cool slightly and rub them with your hands to remove the brown outer skins. Some skins may remain, but that’s fine as long as most of them are removed as they may make your bars taste bitter.
2. Put the raisins in the food processor and process for 2-3 minutes until mashed. Add the oats, flaxseeds,  ¼ cup hazelnuts and the cocoa powder and keep processing. If your mixture is not consistent enough, add a spoonful of water and process for one more minute.
3. Lay a medium-sized (21x11x6), rectangular cake tin with parchment paper. Transfer the mixture in the tin, press with your hands to the bottom and flatten the surface. Finely chop the remaining hazelnuts, sprinkle them on top and press them a little bit to stick. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
4. Remove the mixture from the tin and cut vertically. My cake tin is 21 cm long so I made three centimeters long cuts, ending up with seven bars. Keep them in an airtight container in the fridge.

Note: This time instead of ¼ cup hazelnuts, I used the same amount of raw cacao nibs to top my bars for a more intense chocolate experience.