May 13, 2012

Sesame Tahini Granola Bars

For those of you readers with who live in Washington D.C., and frequently come over to my house, you know I am a subscriber to the Martha Stewart Cookie of the Day, and, while I delete this morning email most days without much thought, every now and then a recipe resonates, and I'll forward it with some short message along the lines of "let's eat these tonight!" When a recipe for Dried-Fruit and Nut Health Bars (promising to be a less sweet and less fatty granola bar) arrived in my inbox, I forwarded it to my roommate immediately. That was on March 22.

Why didn't we eat them immediately? Well, take a look at the list of ingredients. They certainly looked delicious. They also promised to be some seriously expensive granola bars. The papaya alone would cost more than a box of Quaker Chewy Granola Bars. The recipe languished.

A few weeks later, I stumbled across an amazing coop grocery store in Mt. Rainier Maryland, where I found at an extremely reasonable price the pitted dates, quinoa flakes, dried papaya, and dried cherries. I got these ingredients home, and I pulled up the recipe. My heart sank. I still didn't have the macadamia nuts, the pecans, the dried blueberries, the oat bran, the flax seed, the wheat germ, or the brown rice syrup. The quinoa flakes and papaya sat on my shelf for several more weeks. This afternoon, determined to pay some attention to my neglected blog, I pulled the recipe out again.

This time, I decided that rather than invest a small fortune, I would liberally substitute. Toasted sesame seeds for the oat bran, wheat germ, and flax seed. Rolled oats for the pecans and macadamias. Ginger for the cinnamon. Agave for the brown rice syrup. And to make up for the additional dryness from the added granola: a heaping tablespoon of tahini paste.

Granola bars, it turns out, fit into my favorite category of bake goods (along with fruit crumbles): the endlessly customizable. Having made all of these substitutions, I don't know if I can advertise these, as Martha did, as "Health Bars," but I will advertise them as delicious!

- Franklin

Sesame Tahini Granola Bars
Adapted very loosely from Martha Stewart
Total time: 1 hour
Sweetness Factor: 4; Richness factor: 5; Difficulty Factor: 2; Chance I'll Make them Again: 7.

1 cup pitted dates
1 cup quinoa flakes
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup dried papaya, chopped
1/3 cup dried cherries
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
3 tablespoons agave syrup
1 heaping tablespoon tahini paste

Preheat the oven to 350. Generously butter an 8 or 9 inch square pan. Put the dates in a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a simmer. Drain, and puree.

Grind the rolled oats in a food processor. I tried to grind the cherries along with them, but that was unsuccessful. Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. You may need to get in there with your hands to make sure that the tahini, agave, and date puree are evenly worked through all the dry ingredients.

Press the mixture into the prepared pan, making sure it is well-packed. Bake for about twenty-five minutes, until the edges are firm and golden brown. Allow to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars.


  1. So maybe I'll finally buy agave nectar; I have resisted so far but I love that these use tahini! Yes, all these dried fruits (and nuts!) do get pricey. I usually stock up at trader joe's.

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