Last month I decided to commit to a vegan diet for six weeks. Fun, right?! From time to time I like to conduct mini-experiments on myself like this. Two years ago I gave up caffeine, that wasn’t too bad after I had got over the grumpy hurdle. Last year I gave up all refined sugar including alcohol, that was a lot trickier (I do love my wine…!). I wasn’t sure how I would feel about veganism. On the one hand, I have been a vegetarian for over fifteen years now, so this felt like just a small baby step. On the other hand, I really REALLY enjoy good cheese and thick greek yoghurt. I also wondered if following a vegan diet have an effect on my social life, or training for my next half marathon.
I found that I actually felt fantastic, but only when I planned well. I found I was incorporating even more fruits and vegetables into my diet. It pushed me to experiment with food a little more, but also taught me that some things cannot and should not be “veganized” (specifically “cheese” sauces made out of cauliflower…). But it was ALL in the planning.
I found that having plenty of prepared snacks around helped to stave off the boredom, and thats how I came up with these healthy dark chocolate, cherry and walnut breakfast bars. I suppose their name is a little misleading as I ate them for breakfast, morning snacks, afternoon snacks, pre-run fuel, post run recovery… They are delicious, and made with very clean ingredients, just the way we like it!
- 2 tbsp flax meal
- ¼ cup (125ml) water
- ½ cup (60g) almonds
- 2 cups (160g) oats (divided)
- 1 cup (250ml) unsweetened apple sauce
- ½ cup (125g) peanut butter
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted and cooled
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ cup (60ml) maple syrup
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- pinch of salt
- ½ cup (60g) chopped walnuts
- ½ cup (90g) dried cherries
- ½ cup (80g) dark chocolate chips
- In a small bowl, combine flax meal with water then set aside to thicken.
- Next, take almonds and ½ cup (40g) of the oats, and grind to a flour in the food processor or blender until it resembles the picture (above), set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine apple sauce, peanut butter, coconut oil, vanilla extract, maple syrup and cinnamon.
- Stir in oats, oat and almond meal, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- One combined, gently fold in the walnuts, cherries and chocolate.
- Pour into a greased 9x9 baking dish, and pop it into the fridge for 10 minutes while you preheat the oven.
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C
- After the bars have been chilled for 10 minutes, bake for 25-30 minutes until the bars are baked (they might seem a little soft in the middle which is ok- they set upon cooling)
- Remove from the oven and cool the bars in the dish for 10-15 minutes
- Cut into 16 even squares
Remember to look for vegan chocolate chips if you want to make these 100% vegan.
Adapted from the Minimalist Bakers Vegan Breakfast Cookies.