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Fig and Cherry Bars (raw, vegan, gluten-free)

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Fig-and-Cherry-Bars-mainDon’t these Raw Fig and Cherry Bars look just heavenly? I just want to sink my teeth into them.  Well, OK I did!  I have made these many times and find that I love them with dried cranberries as well as the dried cherries.  I also have used raw almond butter in place of the tahini.  That’s the beauty of raw, you can easily substitute ingredients and create new masterpieces!

Bone Strengthening

Did you know that figs are a great source of calcium, which is one of the most important components in strengthening bones. It is also rich in phosphorus, which encourages bone formation and spurs regrowth if there is any damage or degradation to bones.  I always knew how important calcium was but never thought of getting it from figs. (1)

I really do like figs but I have to say that I LOVE cherries. The health benefits of cherry include a boost to eye care, a stronger immune system, and improved digestion. Speaking of digestion… I must shamefully admit that I tend to eat fresh cherries until my tummy hurts. They are my weakness. Will power goes right out the door and doesn’t even bother to look back. hehe

When it comes to making these bars, you can either dehydrate them or not. If you decide not to dry them, you will want to keep them stored in the fridge or freezer. They will be sticky but ooooh so yummy.

By dehydrating them, you will extend the shelf life, plus they will be finger-friendly, meaning… not so sticky. I like to have snacks on hand that can hit the road with us. I always, always, always pack snacks to eat for Bob.  He is my grazer. So when I pack up bars such as these, I like to pop them in an old eye-glass case. That way it can be thrown in my purse or bag and it won’t get squished. Well, it’s time, time to dirty some dishes and get busy. I mean You, not me, I already did that. hehe Enjoy and many blessings.

Fig-and-Cherry-Bars-6Ingredients:

yields 11 1/2 x 9″ tray

  • 2 cups raw almonds, soaked
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 1/4 cups dried figs, stems removed and diced
  • 1 cup organic dried cherries
  • 2 – 4 Tbsp raw agave nectar or maple syrup, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp raw tahini or almond butter
  • 2 organic lemons, zest only

Preparation:

  1. Line a tray with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In the food processor, combine the nuts, flax, and salt. Process until it reaches a small pebble size.
    • I often go by sound… when I first start the food processor, it sounds like rocks spinning around.  As the nuts break down, it turns into a gentle hum. This is my que that they are about done.
    • Do not over process, however, or you’ll end up with nut butter!
  3. Add the figs, cherries, sweetener, tahini or almond butter and lemon zest. Process again until well blended and the mixture resembles a moist “dough” (it will form a ball).
    • Note: if the dried figs and cherries are really hard, re-hydrate them in warm water until soft. Drain the soak water and proceed with recipe.
    • Pinch a bit of the mixture between your fingers to test the consistency. If it sticks together and feels slightly moist, it’s ready.
  4. Turn the mixture into the pan and press down very firmly with the palm of your hand or the back of a metal spatula.  The mixture should be very compact and solid.
  5. Refrigerate or freeze until firm.
  6. Cut into 12 bars and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, or wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap.
  7. The bars will keep refrigerated for up to two weeks.  These will also keep well in the freezer for at least a month.

Dehydrator method:

  1. If you choose to dry them, place the cut bars on the mesh sheet that comes with the dehydrator and dry at 145 degrees (F) for 1 hour, then reduce to 115 degrees (F) for up to 10 hours or so.
    • You can dry them as long or as little as you want, just depends on the texture that you like. They will never dry out completely.
  2. Wrap individually for the ease of snacking.

The Institute of Culinary Ingredients™

  • To learn more about maple syrup by clicking (here).
  • Click (here) for my thoughts on raw agave nectar.
  • What is Himalayan pink salt and does it really matter?  Click (here) to read more about it.
  • Learn how to make your own raw almond butter by clicking (here).

Culinary Explanations:

  • Why do I start the dehydrator at 145 degrees (F).  Click (here) to learn the reason behind this.
  • When working with fresh ingredients it is important to taste test as you build a recipe.  Learn why (here).
  • Don’t own a dehydrator? Learn how to use your oven (here). I do however truly believe that it is a worthwhile investment. Click (here) to learn what I use.

Bob made me a special shot of espresso for the bar

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2 thoughts on “Fig and Cherry Bars (raw, vegan, gluten-free)

  1. nancy says:

    i have a couple of questions, but first….your site is awesome and thank you so much!
    (1) i do not like stevia at all and am not sure if agave or honey can be substituted in your recipes…can they?
    (2) why not always use agave or honey? why do you choose stevia?
    (3) sometimes you offer the option to dehydrate and sometimes not….what criteria do you use for that decision?

    • amie-sue says:

      Hello Nancy… let me see if I can answer your questions

      Q ~ I do not like stevia at all and am not sure if agave or honey can be substituted in your recipes…can they? Why not always use agave or honey? why do you choose stevia?

      A ~ I use stevia in some of my recipes for various reasons. If I use it all by itself, it is because I just want to slightly give the recipe a twinge of sweetness, and not have the added “sugars”, calories or volume added to that particular recipe.

      When I use it in combination with other sweeteners, I use to enhance the sweetener that I am already using and to again not have to increase the use of the other sweetener. This helps me to control the overall measurement needed of a liquid sweetener and decreased the calories.

      Often you see multiple sweeteners used in a single recipes, this is done to elevate different flavor profiles. Like for instance, agave doesn’t lend a flavor like honey or maple syrup (not raw). To me it is also a “brighter” flavor of pure sweetness, so if I want that level of sweetness but also want it to taste “grounded, earthy, or warm”…. I will combine it with honey. Shew, is this confusing? Trying to explain it well enough.

      All that to say that in order to create unique sweet flavors that are tailored to a specific recipe, single or multiple sweeteners are used. Also, honey is very thick and may not work well consistency wise for some recipes. Agave might be too runny. If dehydrating a recipe, such as a granola, aiming to dry it to crunchy texture, honey doesn’t firm up like agave, coconut syrup or maple syrup.

      Some of it boils down to taste buds. You don’t like stevia, I do… all these recipes that I create, are the foods that are eaten in our house. So I use what works for our pallets. I know stevia is one of those love or hate sweeteners. I only like ONE brand and it took me some time to figure that out.

      And lastly, recipes are a base line. Everyone has different tastes, healthy issues, allergies and even beliefs in the ingredients that they use or don’t use. Honey, isn’t vegan, so those who use my recipes and are vegan, have to substitute. Agave is controversial. Some people don’t believe it can be made raw. The brand that I use and have listed on my store, is raw, according to the manufacture.

      To end this novel (sorry haha)… there might be times that I use certain sweeteners because it is all I have on hand. :) Thee End.

      Q ~ Sometimes you offer the option to dehydrate and sometimes not….what criteria do you use for that decision?

      A ~ This can be based on the end texture of the recipe that I am making. There are obvious things that require dehydrating, like crackers, breads, etc. Sometimes, bars and cookies can go either way. If the end texture is more dry and holds it shape well, it may not need dehydrating. When we dry foods, it removes moisture which will give it a firmer texture and give it a longer shelf life. Just depends on what a person is trying to achieve. This could turn into a novel too, but I am going to contain myself. hehe

      If you want or need further explanation, let me know more in detail on what you would like to know. Both issues presented here can differ from recipe to recipe. amie sue

      (3) sometimes you offer the option to dehydrate and sometimes not….what criteria do you use for that decision?

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