Thursday, October 18, 2012

Paleo Lemon, Coconut & Cashew Energy Bars

In faithful continuation of my earlier post on chewy apricot pecan energy bars in which I began testing a series of paleo energy bar recipes, I present these cheerful morsels. In this recipe, four brave ingredients come together to be pulverized and pressed into conformity in honor of your caloric needs. That's right: Lest the title of my post deceive you, the coconut flakes, lemon zest, and cashews are not alone in this endeavor ... a healthy serving of dried pineapple provides sweetness and cohesion.

The flavor really works for me. It's something along the lines of a sweet, lemony piƱa colada. And while I don't want to downplay the merits of pineapple and coconut -- a truly great combination -- it's the lemon zest that really makes these larabar-style snacks so special. In fact, I'd like to try enhancing their lemony-goodness by substituting fresh-squeezed lemon juice for some of the water in the recipe.
The pineapple content puts these on the sweeter end of energy bars. So if you're looking for a quick snack to satisfy your sweet tooth and provide some protein and fiber to boot, then rejoice! And if it's too sweet, you might try the Paleo Nut and Berry Grain-Free Granola Bars. Of the energy bar recipes I've tried so far, they are the least sweet.

To reduce the sweetness, you can also try to incrementally add pineapple to the food processor until you've found the minimum amount that will hold the ingredients together. A few tablespoons of ground flaxseed would help provide additional binding power in the absence of some of the pineapple.

Public service advisory: They are stickier than the apricot, pecan & chocolate energy bars I tested. For those who detest sticky fingertips, I'd advise the careful use of parchment paper or a plastic bag when eating them on the run.

While comparing the pineapple power bar recipe to the apricot bar recipe, it's worth noting that neither bar has been as dense as a commercially-produced fruit-and-nut bar. Reproducing that in a home environment may require some top-notch food processing (my less-than-fancy Ninja Food and Drink Maker traveled to the brink of its slice-and-dice abilities to make these). And/or superhuman pressure. I mean, nothing my biceps can't handle (*yawn*, polishes bicep) ... I'm just thinking about the rest of you out there. Annnnd, recipe:
Lemon Coconut Cashew & Pineapple Energy Bars
Adapted via Living Crunchy
Makes one 8"x8" pan, ~about 16 squares
Note: You can reduce the quantities by half and press into a 9"x5" loaf pan.

2 cups (320 g) dried unsweetened pineapple. To make a less sweet bar, add incrementally as needed. A few teaspoons of ground flaxseed can help bind the bars if you use less pineapple.
2/3 cup hot water
2 cups (240 g) raw, unsalted cashews (though any nut of your choice would work)
1/2 (40 g) unsweetened dried coconut flakes
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp salt
parchment paper

Place pineapple in a container and cover with 2/3 cup of hot water. Let soak for 5 to 10 minutes while preparing other ingredients. Drain water from pineapple and combine pineapple, cashews, unsweetened coconut flakes, lemon zest, and dash of salt in food processor. Process until finely ground and batter sticks together. Press into parchment paper-lined pan. Let chill until firm, about 30 minutes. Slice and enjoy!