I have an obsession with “interesting” food.
Like when I found a tray of miniature pears and just had to buy them, even though their size made
them extremely difficult (read: actually impossible) to eat. Or when I spent an obscene amount of money on a yellow watermelon because I thought it might be, in any meaningful way, different to the red variety (it wasn't). Or like when I drove 45 minutes out of my way to buy a jar of black tahini, even though I had a full jar of regular tahini, because for some reason it was way more appealing to me. So now I have LOTS of tahini and no real desire to make grey hummus, which means I’ve been on the lookout for new recipes that will help me use it up.
Bliss bars/energy bars/protein bars – whatever you want to call them – are a great way to include a burst of nutrition in a delicious and portable little package. I often make apricot and tahini bliss balls, so thought there had to be a way of tweaking this recipe to suit my abundance of black sesame paste. I subbed apricots for dates and added in some spirulina powder for extra nutrients and bam! Winner winner, chicken dinner. They tasted even better than I had anticipated; the combination of sweet and nutty is delicious and dangerously moreish. Just don’t get overexcited with the spirulina powder and decide “a little is good so more must be better”. It’s not true. It’s never true. It will make your bliss bars/smoothie taste like fish food. Take it from someone that discovered this the hard way and ALWAYS FOLLOW THE RECOMMENDED SERVING SIZE. Or don’t, and enjoy your fish food bars. Whatever.
Spirulina is actually a blue-green algae that's sold as a powder and is used primarily due to its high vitamin, mineral and antioxidant content. It contains 10 times the calcium of milk, 20x more beta carotene than carrots, 50x more iron than spinach and 5x more protein than eggs (per 100g equivalent serving), so even using only a small amount will still provide your body with lots of extra nutrition. Black tahini is rich in calcium, for strong teeth, hair and bones, as well as zinc to assist with and promote healthy cell growth. It's also higher in protein than most nuts, making it a fantastic inclusion to vegan, vegetarian and nut-free diets. I usually make bliss balls rather than bliss bars but my lazy inner fat kid couldn't be bothered spending the time or effort required to make bite-sized treats so into the baking dish it went! I even think I liked this better - no mess, no fuss, more free time for wasting away my life on Pinterest.
Little bites like these are a great way of sneaking extra nutrition into kids’ (and husbands’..) lunch
boxes; anything snack-sized and covered in coconut is a sure fire winner in our household. If you don’t have the black tahini then by all means please use regular! The flavour won’t change and you’ll be exempt from the “now I have a whole jar of black tahini, what the f**k am I going to do with it” struggle. Or live dangerously and buy black tahini, then spend months eating these bliss bars! Just maybe avoid the grey hummus…
Black Tahini & Spirulina Bliss Bars
Makes 8 bars
1 dried dates
1 cup almonds
½ cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup black tahini
3 scoops vanilla protein powder
1 tsp spirulina powder
Extra coconut, for sprinkling
1) Cover dates in boiling water and set aside for 15 minutes.
2) Combine drained dates with remaining ingredients in a food processor and blend until the mixture starts sticking together.
3) If the mixture is too wet add some more coconut and if the mixture is too dry try adding some of the date soaking liquid.
4) Press mixture into a lined baking dish (approximately 9x12in) and sprinkle with shredded coconut, pressing down so it sticks to bars.
5) Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm, then slice into bars. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.
**If you'd rather make bliss balls than bars this recipe makes approximately 16 balls.
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