As I’ve mentioned before, I have a slight snacking addiction, but I like my snacks to be healthy at the same time. Due to my self-imposed dietary restrictions, there are few commercial snack foods that I can actually eat. While vegan and whole grain products are becoming more popular on the Italian food scene, sugar free is still a rare find.
And so, a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do and this girl makes her own snacks for those moments when she’s craving something sweet.
And that my friends is how these squares were born, to satisfy my craving for something sweet, rich and decadent one afternoon. They are made from a delicious combination of ground walnuts, oats and dried apricots.
The walnuts give them a rich nutty,”buttery” flavour, while the oat flakes keep them crumbly, and the apricots, besides being the essential glue that binds, add the right amount of sweetness. They make a great portable snack if you’re always on the run like me and if you’re not always on the run, feel free to eat them anyways.
Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and have been found to have anti-inflammatory benefits, while oats are a great source of fiber and maganese which promotes healthy bones and regulates the metabolism. Oats are also known to have a high content of beta glucans which have been found to boost the immune systems defence against bacteria and infection. Dried apricots, besides being delicious, are a great antioxidant and add sweetness and flavour without the added fat and calories of sugar and other refined sweeteners.
Be warned, they are addictive! They may be relatively healthy, but it’s important to enjoy everything in moderation.
Walnut, Oat & Apricot Squares
Makes about 20 squares in a 11×9 baking dish
- 1 Cup Oat Flakes
- 1 Cup Walnut Halves, heaping
- 8 Organic Dried Apricots, soaked in water to soften if necessary
- 2 Tbsp Organic Brown Rice Syrup or other sweetener of choice
- 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil, liquid (use runny tahini or nut butter for oil free)
- 1/2 Tsp Pure Organic Bourbon Vanilla Powder
- Pinch Sea Salt (optional)
- Preheat oven to 180 C and lightly grease a baking dish or line it with parchment paper.
- Grind the walnuts into a medium fine meal, a little bit at a time, being careful not to over process and overheat the mixture, otherwise it will turn into walnut butter. Set aside.
- Add oats to a food processor and pulse into a flour.
- Drain the apricots and reserve the soaking liquid and chop them into small pieces.
- Add walnut meal and chopped dried apricots to the oat flour in the food processor and pulse to combine and break down the apricots.
- Add vanilla, rice syrup, oil and a pinch of salt, if using and pulse to combine. By now the mixture should be clumping together a bit. Add a very small amount of apricot soaking liquid if needed to help with clumping.
- Press mixture firmly into an 11x 9 baking dish and bake in a preheated oven at 180 C (356 F) for about 20 minutes. Baking times vary by oven, so you will want to adjust the baking time accordingly. You could also make these in a smaller pan (8×8 for example) to get slightly thicker squares, but again, be sure to adjust the baking time accordingly. You will know they’re ready when the edges start to brown.
- Remove from the oven and let cool enough to handle without burning your fingers, then slice into squares.
- Store them in an air tight container and enjoy whenever your heart desires.