A certain someone has been on at me to make a healthy protein / energy bar that is delicious, moist, chewy, vegan and free from refined sugar all at the same time.. she doesn't ask for much! It's one of those things that requires a fair amount of trial and error trying to get the right ratio of wet to dry and the right amount of stickiness to hold it all together and give a nice overall texture.

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I've tried off and on with various combinations of ingredients with limited success. But with renewed determination I think I've finally cracked it with this number, featuring delicious naked barley and toasted rye flakes from Hodmedod's, who grow and produce the most amazing range of British pulses, grains and flours. This recipe also uses hemp seeds which the vegans among you will know are one of the best plant protein sources since they contain all nine essential amino acids.

And it seemed the perfect recipe to share from my sick bed this week (having been struck down with (wo)man-flu). It's a healthy traybake that is literally no effort at all to make. Other than soaking and mashing some dates, you literally just mix the dry in one bowl, the wet in another, then combine and bake. Rye not give it a go?

Feel free to substitute the nuts and seeds with whatever you prefer or have available - the truth is the starting point for this recipe was a list of nuts and seeds we had in piled up in the pantry at home crying out to be eaten!

Recipe:

Ingredients:

3 tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil

2 tbsp maple syrup

100g grated eating apple (something sweet like a cox)

200g pitted dates

25g each of flax, chia and shelled hemp seeds

25g each of hazelnuts, peeled tiger nuts, cashew nuts

50g sultanas

100g naked barley flakes

50g toasted rye flakes

25g ground almonds

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon
 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 160C (150C Fan)

1. Place the dates in the bowl and pour in 200ml boiling water. Cover with a plate and leave to soak while you prepare the other ingredients.

2. Weigh all the remaining dry ingredients into a bowl and mix to combine evenly.

3. Grate the apple. Mash the dates with your hands to a rough paste - try not to have any whole dates or massive chunks, but uneven is good as it means little sweet date nuggets inside!

4. Mix the dates, apple, oil and maple syrup together. Pour into the dry and mix until nicely combined. Pile into a 18x30cm traybake tray lined with baking parchment and spread evenly to fill the tray and flatten the top.

5. Bake for 45-50 minutes until nicely browned and set. Leave to cool entirely in the tray before turning out and cutting into 15 squares. 

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