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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Berry Chia Bars

I cook because:
1. I must do it
2. I love eating
3. I promote healthy habits (and cooking is one of the most important ways to develop them) 

However, my main passion is and will be baking, as impractical as it can be. Food is a need, and dessert, a want. You can improvise as you cook, change, adapt as you go. Baking requires precision, obedience, patience, faith and lots of tolerance for frustration. Plus, since I'm obsessive compulsive about only using real foods that are rich in nutrients, no refined sweeteners nor flours and I'm a huge fan of including super foods in my recipes (plus not dealing that well with dairy and gluten), I've exponentially grown my chances of failure. 

My kitchen is a mixture of a Whole Foods Market-loving mad scientist's lab, with an overworked Manhattan family kitchen where a chef with big aspirations and very little room tries to produce some healthful, palatable goodies... Since baking is mostly about chemistry (especially the reactions among eggs, butter, flour and sugar, which I don't use), unfortunately, lots of experimental batches end up in a trash bag,. So, when something turns out right, I feel as if I'd climbed the Everest! And this recipe is one of those. It's based on the Hamentaschen recipe I developed two years ago, and I just tweaked it a bit and served it during my children's school Health Initiative night. I was asked for the recipe, which besides showing that they were actually good, is the biggest self esteem booster ever, and encourages me to keep trying and proof that you can have your cookie and health healthfully too!

BERRY-CHIA BARS
Gluten free - Vegan - No refined flour nor sweeteners



Feel free to use frozen and thawed mixed berries or just a single kind. They are all delicious! Other frozen (and thawed) fruits, such as mango with pineapple, cherries, etc are great options as well. Play around, just taste the filling before adding any sweetener, as they might not need any, as some are really sweet my themselves. 
However, do use frozen fruit, as the freezing process changes its texture and that is desirable for this recipe.
Also, this filling is awesome raw, just by itself or drizzled atop of yogurt, oatmeal or even in savory dishes. My daughter and her friends eat it by the spoonful!

INGREDIENTS:
Filling:
  • 1 (10 oz) package of organic frozen berries, thawed in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight.
  • 1 tablespoon whole chia seeds
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  •  Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste
  • Lemon zest, optional
  • Pinch unrefined salt

Crust:
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) extra virgin olive oil (or avocado oil)
  • 8 g (about 2 tablespoons) ground chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon unrefined salt 
  • 2 cups (250 g) gluten free oat flour
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) potato flour (NOT potato starch)
METHOD:
Filling
Throw everything in a blender and blend until fruit has pureed. If you are using fruits other than berries, don't add the maple syrup. Mix first, then taste and add syrup, only if needed. 

Let the chia thicken the mixture while you prepare the crust.

Crust
Preheat oven to 350 F.

Line the bottom of a 9x13-in baking pan with parchment and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix with a spatula or wooden spoon the maple syrup, oil, ground chia, vanilla and salt, until incorporated.

Add the oat and potato flours and mix until a dough forms.

Spread and press the dough evenly on the bottom of the prepared pan with a spatula or even your hands. 

Pour the filling onto the crust and spread evenly.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling looks dry. 

Let cool, cut into bars or squares and enjoy.







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