Not-So-Sweets for the Sweeties

I have a confession.  I love cake and chocolate and ice cream and whipped cream and and and and….  While there are people who have more insatiable sweet cravings than I, I really can do a great job in the dessert eating department.  And truth to tell, there have been moments of pure joy in my life that included something like a pain au chocolat with friends in Montreal or red velvet cake with my husband, the first taste of cream cheese icing with my stepmom.  I would not trade those moments; I do not wish to stop having them.   They are SPECIAL times, and that’s part of the point, isn’t it?  They are special times, with foods we don’t have all the time.  At least, this is the sad reality I have come to understand… this is an understanding my husband and I reluctantly came to after he took the pastry class at a pretty swank cooking school. While my cravings have diminished since we cut back on sugar and processed foods, I can still respond to that siren call as evidenced by some VERY fine chocolate covered pretzels the Easter bunny brought (Thanks, Mom).

The thing about sugar is that it tastes good.  It tastes REALLY good.  These are flavors that are supposed to taste good to us, and if you are accustomed to a lot of it on a regular basis, you may find it very difficult to suddenly cut back considerably.  You might also simply find such a choice a little, well, draconian and no fun.  I have found that keeping our house on a low sugar path depends to some degree on my ability and willingness to occasionally provide something that is sweet enough, that is yummy and feels a little like something you don’t get to eat all the time.  Fruit, while we serve it often as snack or desert or whatever, does not always cut it in this department, particularly for my two young children who live in a world with other young children who get to have Ho-Ho’s at snack time.  We are constantly on the lookout for the middle ground on sweet snacks.  A treat sort of taste with much less sugar and none of the additives (food colorings, stabilizers, solvents that are present in those crinkly little packages of waxy chocolate covered pillow stuffing).   After a great deal of experimentation based on the Lemon-Kissed Cashew Hemp Bars, my children and I met in the middle with these lovely bits…

Pre-Freezer, Pre-Cut, Still Delish!


  • 1/2 c cashews
  • 1/2 c almonds
  • 1 c dried dates
  • 1/3 c pumpkin seeds
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 c peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • 1 c raw oatmeal (approximately to taste)
  • 2 T chocolate chips (just enough to make it a treat)

Put nuts in food processor and run until fine.  Add pumpkin seeds, dates, lemon juice and peanut butter.  Process until dough forms a large sticky ball (if ball isn’t forming, add another splash of lemon or a tiny bit more nut butter).

Ball of Yummy

Remove ball and place in large bowl.  Add oats a little at a time (I did 1/3 c scoops) and mix into dough.  I found bare hands to be the easiest (albeit messiest) way to do this.  I used a cup of oats, but you may prefer a little more for less stickiness or less for more fruitiness.  Mix in chocolate chips.   Place plastic wrap in the bottom of a small baking dish (mine was square) and pat down until evenly distributed.  Place in freezer for at least 1/2 hour.  Cut into squares or bars depending on the size of snack you prefer to have available.  We cut our square baking pan full into 16 pieces.  Not too big for the kids, small enough to be negligible for the adults.  The name of the dish comes from my son.  “What do you think we should call them, buddy?”  “Awesome Bars.”  I added the “oatie” to be marginally descriptive.  Delish!

Pssst….. if you missed it earlier today, be sure to pop by our earlier post to read about our Sunshine Award. 🙂

27 responses

  1. Hey Little Sis, great post! I wish I’d had this recipe when my sons were young! I don’t see hemp in your list of ingredients, but you say add it. So, is it a flour or what? One way I’ve found to help with the sugar problem, cause we have to have it once in a while, is to only buy low glycemic index sugars, such as palm, date or coconut. You don’t get that rush that later makes you want to lie down!

    • Thanks for the catch! The recipe was an adaptation of another that uses hemp… cut past edit… oops. Hemp is a seed that is VERY nutritious, but can also be hard to find, so I used pumpkin seeds here as a more available alternative. And I’m with you – I hate that rush – especially when it causes one of my two five year olds to CRASH. It’s so ugly.

  2. Hey, these Awesome Oatie Bars look great! Just for clarification, the directions mention hemp. Not sure what you mean. Help! PS–Congrats on the much-deserved Sunshine Award! Cheers, ST

  3. Yum! These look and sound delicious. I just made some for my boys yesterday, with a similar mix of ingredients. I love the lemon addition in yours. I’ll have to try these next!

    • Hey now, flax seed is a great idea! I’m hankering for a food processor myself. I have a Vita Mix blender but it doesn’t do things like this well. Wish I could borrow Little Sis’ but we live too far apart : (

  4. Ah, the shot of the cuisinart making the beautiful ball. that’s when you really know it’s all coming together to make something divine!

    • Hey Jodi! I leave mine in the freezer and eat from there. Would probably be okay for a short time (30 mins?) but may goo up, especially in summer. Planning to play with a baked version for increased portability. Thanks for the question; I should have included that. Will edit when I have a better connection. 🙂

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    • Thanks Tammy! I’ve been trying to put together enough of these kind of treats that I can keep my kids happy without winding them up or spoiling my own efforts to eat better. Let us know if you give them a go!

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