Raw Almond Joy Energy Bars

The combination of coconut, almonds, and cacao is simply heavenly in my mind.  At least as an adult.  Funny, because I always gave away my Almond Joy candy bars from my Halloween candy stash.  I think it was the sweetened coconut that I couldn't stand.  I was not fond of coconut until later in life when I had the real stuff. Just unsweetened, dried nothing added coconut.  Once I tried that, it became one of my favorite things as you can probably tell from my recipes since I use it in a lot of things.  So, if Almond Joy candy bars had been made with good coconut I think I would have loved them.

 I often combine the flavors of an Almond Joy in my desserts, but this week I decided that they would make a delicious energy bar.  It was all there...the coconut, cacao, and almonds, plus lots of add ins that I consider to be perfect energy and protein foods.  Chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds, all good sources of omega 3 oils which I consider important parts of my daily meals and snacks.

The best part about these is not just that they are packed with nutritional goodness, but they are delicious as well!  Dessert, snack, and re-energizer in one, and they will keep you going throughout the day!

Raw Almond Joy Energy Bars
Makes 12

2 Tbsp raw coconut nectar or your choice liquid raw sweetener
1/2 cup soft medjool dates, pitted (soaked in filtered water for 30 minutes if not soft and drained well)
1/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup mashed ripe banana
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup raw coconut butter, warmed to liquid
1 cup finely shredded, dried coconut
1 cup ground flax seed
2 scoops raw protein powder (I used Garden of Life Raw Vanilla)
1/4 cup raw, shelled hemp seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 cup sprouted, dehydrated buckwheat groats
1/2 cup raw cacao nibs
1 cup raw almonds, chopped
1 cup finely shredded dried coconut

Chocolate Drizzle:
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 cup raw coconut oil
1/4 cup raw coconut nectar, or agave nectar (or your choice liquid raw sweetener)
a pinch sea salt

In a food processor, combine the coconut nectar, dates, sea salt, banana, almond extract, vanilla extract, and coconut butter and process until smooth. Add the cup coconut, flax seed and protein powder and process until well combined.  Add the seeds and buckwheat groats and process briefly just to incorporate (so that there is still texture).  Remove from the processor and knead in almonds, raw cacao nibs and coconut (the mixture may be a little sticky, but that is ok*).  Spread out on a lined dehydrator tray 1/2 inch thick in a square (using a bench scraper to shape the sides and an oiled rolling pin helps).  Cut into 12 bars, and place in the dehydrator.  Dry for about 12 hours at 115F until dry but still chewy. Or, alternatively, you can just place in the freezer until firm (about an hour) but they will be not be as firm, or keep as long.
Once the bars are ready, to make the chocolate, whisk together all ingredients until smooth. Then drizzle over the finished bars (I like to put mine in a pastry bag and drizzle it).  Place in the freezer for 5 minutes to set the chocolate.  Store finished bars in the fridge in an airtight container.

*Note: if you do not want to dehydrate these, add more flax meal, a little at a time until they are not sticky, kneading it in, then refrigerate them to firm up.

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