These healthy cherry almond snack bars are sweetened naturally, but taste like an indulgent oatmeal cookie. They’re easy to make, don’t need to bake, and only take 20 minutes to whip together.
I’m a huge snacker. Going several hours between meals without a snack feels incredibly difficult. I try to fill those cravings with fruit or vegetables, but sometimes that just doesn’t hit the spot. I want something sweet, and something that feels like it was made for me to eat it.
For months I’ve been experimenting with making my own healthy snack bars. I’ve tried chocolate snack bars, coconut and cashew snack bars, and snack bars with every healthy and nutritious ingredient I could find in my pantry. They’re all good, but I don’t make them much anymore because I’ve found my new favorite; cherry almond snack bars with a dark chocolate drizzle.
Golden sweetness collides with the nutty wholesomeness of the oats to produce a flavor that can best be described as an oatmeal cookie. The flavor is unmistakably like brown sugar. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that they had a generous helping of brown sugar or molasses and were baked into a chewy and slightly caramelized cookie. Contrary to their taste, these cherry almond snack bars are healthy and completely sugar-free; the sweetness comes from blended dates and honey.
Oatmeal cookie level flavor isn’t the only thing to recommend these bars. They’re also soft and chewy. They hold together well. But as you bite into them, they fall apart into chewy pillows of oats. If chocolate is your thing—and how could it not be—the fun isn’t over yet. Ribbons of rich chocolate are laid upon them, making them both taste more luxurious and look fancier.
Think these healthy cherry almond snack bars sound like something worth trying out?
To get started, place your dates in a bowl and cover them with ½ cup hot water. This helps to soften them, which makes them much easier to blend into a smooth paste later. I used Medjool dates, which are actually quite soft, but I still find it helpful to soak them for about 10 minutes. Depending on the type of dates you’re using, you may want to soak them even longer. Also, if you don’t have a very powerful food processor, like the one I just upgraded from, soaking the dates is crucial.
While your dates are soaking, turn your attention to the almonds. If you’re like me and you don’t like large pieces or whole almonds in your snack bars, you’ll want to chop them a bit first. Pulse them in the food processor for about 20 seconds, checking every 5-10 seconds to see how large the pieces are. They will be blended a little bit more later on, so you just want them a bit larger than your desired size.
Depending on the size of your dried cherries (if they’re whole or pre-chopped) and your preferred chunkiness of fruit in bars, I would highly recommend throwing them in with your almonds and pulsing for another 20 seconds or so. Personally, large chunks of cherry in the bars is very unpleasant. I still want chunks, but not really large ones, so I find this step very important.
Alrighty, enough prep, let’s get to making these cherry almond snack bars! If you pre-chopped the cherry and almonds (smart choice!), then just pour them into a bowl or the pan that you’ll be using for your snack bars later.
Your food processor should be empty at this point. Remove your dates from the water (but save the water—you may need it later) and place them in the food processor. Add the almond butter and honey as well. Honey is optional here; it’s not necessary for binding the ingredients together, but it does add a little extra sweetness. Depending on your preferred level of sweetness, you can add the honey or not. Blend the almond butter, honey, and dates together until they form a paste, and there aren’t any date chunks remaining.
Throw the oats, coconut, almonds and dried cherries into the food processor with the almond date mixture. Blend until everything’s mixed together. If it’s too thick, you can add some of the date-water that you saved earlier. Add it one tablespoon at a time, so you don’t end up with watery snack bars!
Line a pan with parchment paper to make it easier to remove the bars from the pan later. Then, put the mixture in the pan. It’s pretty thick, so you can’t really ‘pour’ it in. Get it into the pan however you can! Then, press down the mix so it’s flat and even. Chill the bars in the freezer for one hour or the fridge for two hours.
Once chilled, remove the bars from the pan, and cut them up into….bars! I cut them into 12 bars, but I also often cut them in half to make 24. After cutting the bars, leave them next to each other, since that’ll make it easier to drizzle and not waste chocolate.
Melt the dark chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave. It should take about 1 minute for the chocolate to fully melt, but check and stir every 15 seconds. Once melted, you can either just drizzle the chocolate onto the bars with a spoon, or, you can get all fancy if you like. I put the chocolate into a small bag and cut a small hole to just drizzle thin lines.
After that, chill the bars a little more to harden the chocolate and you’re all set! The cherry almond snack bars are ready and waiting for you to devour them.
What if I want to change something?
The beauty of this recipe is that you can make variations to suit your preference. Want it less sweet? Drop the honey. Don’t want cherries? Try a different fruit like raisins, dried apricot, or leave them out completely!
Find dark chocolate too bitter? Try some semi-sweet or milk chocolate! Or, if melting and drizzling chocolate is too much effort than it’s worth (but is chocolate ever more work than it’s worth??), you can add the dark chocolate chunks right in the mixture. I’d chop up large chunks at the beginning with the almonds and dried cherries.
Healthy Cherry Almond Snack BarsYields: 12 bars
IngredientsCHERRY ALMOND BARS
- 1 cup whole almonds
- 10 Medjool dates (pitted)
- 1/3 cup almond butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 cup oats
- 1/2 cup unsweetened dried cherries
- 1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
- 1 gram dark chocolate
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
InstructionsCHERRY ALMOND BARS
- Place the dates in a bowl with 1/2 cup hot water (or enough to just cover them all) to soak for 10 minutes.
- Add almonds to the food processor, and blend until they are roughly chopped. Then, remove the almonds and set them aside.
- Remove the dates from the water, and place in the food processor along with the almond butter and honey. Blend until no date chunks remain and they form a thick paste.
- Add the oats, coconut, chopped almonds, and cherries to the food processor. Mix until all the ingredients are combined.
- Line a 10 x 10 inch pan with parchment paper.
- Add the mixture into the lined pan, and pat it down with your hands or a spoon until it's flat.
- Chill the bars in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before slicing.
- Microwave the chocolate and coconut oil until melted; stirring every 15 seconds.
- Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cherry almond bars.