I’ve already discussed our quest for desserts that double as guilt-free breakfasts; these mocha brownie bars can be added to the list. Home on Long Island for the holiday weekend, Isabel and I decided to make these bars for a football party dessert. Nobody had a clue they were gluten-free, vegan and made only with unrefined, whole foods. And everyone raved about them. They’re fudgy, full of robust chocolate and coffee flavor and there’s no baking involved.
WHY THEY’RE HEALTHY // The almonds and walnuts, both nutritionally dense, contain protein, vitamins and minerals. Almonds are high in vitamin E, which is an antioxidant vitamin that prevents free radical cell damage, aids in circulation and is great for the skin. Almonds contain monounsaturated fats, which help reduce your LDL cholesterol while increasing your HDL cholesterol. Walnuts are a vegetarian source of omega-3s and essential amino acids. Cocoa powder is beneficial due to its extremely high antioxidant content; cocoa binds to free radicals and harmful metals. Cocoa polyphenols also prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidizing (and subsequently clogging arteries). Dates are condensed energy sources, also high in essential vitamins and minerals. Unlike refined sugars, dates are good for digestion because of their fiber content. Dates are also relatively high in iron, potassium, and magnesium, which help with metabolism, muscle contractions and maintaining strong bones and teeth. //
Aside from breakfast and dessert, these bars are a perfect post-workout snack; healthy carbs with a bit of protein and fat. Stressful exercise depletes your body’s glycogen stores and mineral levels; these brownie bars can help replenish both. The only downside to these is that they’ll be eaten quickly. But with such simple ingredients, it’s easy to whip up more.
Adapted from Minimalist Baker
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 1½ cups pitted Medjool dates (or regular dates, soaked - see notes)
- ¾ cup cocoa powder (plus 1 tablespoon to dust)
- 2 teaspoons finely ground coffee beans
- 2 tablespoons strongly brewed coffee
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Put walnuts and almonds in a food processor and process until ground to a sand-like texture.
- With the food processor running, add pitted dates one at a time until well processed.
- Add the remaining ingredients and continue to process until mixture holds together when squeezed in your hand.
- Line a pan with parchment paper and press mixture into an even layer, about ½ inch think.
- Dust with a bit of cocoa powder.
- Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
- Slice into bars of any size and keep refrigerated.