Summer days are here, even if not officially so until later this month. One of the best parts about living in Italy is that summer arrives early and stays a while. Having grown up and spent most of my life in Canada, I truly appreciate the Italian climate. That’s not to say that Canadian weather is always horrible, there are 4 seasons, the summers are lovely as are spring and autumn, but the cruelest season of all is winter and it’s the one that lasts the longest, at least in Ontario where I grew up. For winter sports enthusiasts winter and it’s seemingly never ending pile of white powder is a welcome gift, but to the child of a Lebanese immigrant who never learned to ski, much less skate, winters were about indoor swimming pools, the shopping mall and other indoor activities, even on so called ski trips, spending my days shopping in the village, getting pampered at the spa, or sipping hot cocoa in the chalet. My younger sister was the braver of the two, she learned to skate and took advantage of the beautiful Rideau Canal in Ottawa, and even hit the ski slopes a few times. I attempted skiing in Mont Tremblant one year in University, but quickly gave up after a few hours of tumbling down the hill. Much to hubby’s chagrin, an avid skier since the young age of 3, I’ve only ever tried skiing once since moving to Italy. I’d much rather sit outside the chalet at the mountain top soaking up the sun on a warm winter day, all decked out in the stylish ski gear hubby insisted I buy, reading a magazine while waiting for the skiers to come in for lunch.
I digress, enough about winter, summer is here and it’s time to celebrate the season of picnics in the park and lunches on the beach. This season is all about portable food and what better portable food is there than a snack bar?
These snack bars are made with rolled and toasted kamut flakes, soft dried Turkish figs, soft medjool dates, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, walnuts and almond butter and spiced with cinnamon and star anise, my new favourite spice. They’re completely free of any added oil or sugar, not even a drop of brown rice syrup or maple syrup in these. They’re 100% sweetened with dried fruit.
Kamut, you may ask, what is that? There’s a lot of conflicting information out there about Kamut and after doing some digging I learned that Kamut is actually a registered trademark and the commercial name of the khorasan strain of wheat. While many sources say that it’s an ancient grain cultivated in Egypt, others say it’s not ancient at all, but rather a modern descendent of the Egyptian grain. All sources agree that it’s from the same family as wheat and is NOT gluten free. However some claim that it’s easier to digest than other forms of wheat and while not suitable for those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease, it has been reportedly tolerated by those with wheat aversions.
Kamut or khorasan wheat has been praised for being high in protein and 1 cup actually contains 11g of protein. It is also a great source of dietary fiber, manganese, magnesium, vitamin B3 and antioxidant rich selenium.
Kamut Fig & Date Bars
Recipe & Photography by Nissrine @ Harmony à la Carte
These bars are vegan, sugar free and oil free and made with 100% whole food ingredients and naturally sweetened with dried fruit. For a gluten free option, substitute the Kamut with certified gluten free oats. Enjoy them straight out of the refrigerator or roll them in parchment paper and take them with you for a healthy snack on the go.
- 2 C Rolled Kamut Flakes
- 2 Tbsp Flax Seeds
- 1/3 C Pumpkin Seeds
- 1/3 C Walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 4 Large Soft Medjool Dates
- 4 Large Soft Dried Figs
- 1/2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1/4 Tsp Fresh Ground Star Anise
- 1/3 C Natural Almond Butter
- 2 Tbsp Filtered Water
- Toast the Kamut in a dry pan for about 10 minutes in medium low heat. Add pumpkin seeds and continue toasting 2-3 minutes. Add flax seeds and toast for another minute, until you hear the flax seeds pop. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- In the same pan, lightly dry toast the walnuts for a minute. Coarsely chop and add to the Kamut and seed mixture.
- Toss the kamut, seed and nut mixture, adding cinnamon and star anise until all well combined.
- Remove the pits from the dates and trim the tough stem off the figs. In a plate, mash the dates and figs together using a fork, to create a dense and sticky paste (I used really soft dates and figs, so this was really easy. If your dates and figs are dry and tough you will need to soak them first and you may need to use a food processor).
- Add half the paste to the kamut, seed and nut mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or slightly damp hands to combine well. You don’t want large clumps of date and fig paste. It’s easiest to use damp hands to massage the paste into the dry mix.
- Combine the remaining date and fig paste with almond butter and water in a small pot over low heat and stir to combine until melted and a thick liquid forms. Don’t leave it on too long, as you want it liquidy and not too thick and sticky. It will get sticky as it cools.
- Add liquid to the kamut mixture and use a wooden spoon to stir and combine. By now the mixture should be sticking and holding together.
- Transfer the mixture to a parchment paper line baking dish (I used an 11×17 size glass Pyrex dish) and firmly press the mixture into the pan using damp fingers or a spatula.
- Smooth out the top and place in the freezer for about 1 hour, until set.
- Remove from freezer, slice into bars and enjoy.
- Store in an airtight container in the freezer or refrigerator for longevity. Wrap them in parchment paper and take them with you on the go for a quick and healthy snack.