Almond + Oat Date Squares (Vegan, Gluten Free)

January 08, 2015

This post is long overdue, sorry! I'm finally feeling better today after being sick for a week. Bah. It's been a week of tea, soup, and smoothies (all awesome). I caught up on a lot of Netflix while stuck in bed, so that was pretty nice too. Maybe being sick wasn't so bad. But damn, am I ever sick of snot. Now we are stuck at home due to blowing snow, and the field looks like a white sandstorm. It's very pretty from inside the house. Sunsets at 4:30, anyone?

On a different note, I have a lovely recipe for you today. My sister asked me to come up with a healthy date square recipe, and a friend seconded it, so here we are. I don't know if I've ever had a date square, but they explained what it is, and it sounded pretty dang good. Dates and oats? Two of my favourite things. Date squares are pretty old-fashioned, but I promise this version isn't what you'd see at bingo (is that a thing all old people do? My Omi loves bingo). They're also a Canadian specialty. On the west coast people call them matrimonial squares. I don't know what that's about. Old people weddings?

As always, this recipe is free of refined sugar. The middle layer is made of dates, so a lot of sugar isn't necessary in the bottom and top bits. It's not super sweet, so you can have it as dessert, but also as a snack or part of breakfast. It needed to be gluten-free for my bud, and my sister avoids wheat. I used oat flour because it's cheap, easy, and high in protein. If you're celiac remember to get certified gluten-free oats. They're naturally free of gluten, but often come into contact with wheat during production. I've also used sliced almonds to add some crunch. They can be left out if you can't have nuts. I was hesitant about this recipe working out but these bars are the shit. I stuck them in the freezer to make them easier to photograph, but they're waaaay better frozen. The date layer stays chewy and caramelly without being too soft to eat, and the base/crumble is crunchy awesomeness.

I made a tower. It collapsed.

1 cup oat flour*
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons applesauce
~14 dates, seeded*
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon almond butter

Preheat the oven to 350F and line an 8x6 baking pan with parchment paper. I was out and greasing it really well worked in a pinch, but they were definitely harder to remove.

In a large bowl, mix the oat flour, rolled oats, flax, coconut sugar, almonds, cinnamon, and salt. Add the coconut oil and applesauce. It'll seem like it won't hold together at first, but the flax will work its magic and make everything stick.

In a food processor, blend the dates until a sticky past forms. Do not throw everything in at once and turn it on - there will be an almond milk explosion. Once you get a paste, add the almond milk, vanilla, and almond butter. Blend until it's a spreadable consistency.

Take a cup of the oat mixture out and reserve it. Press the remainder into your prepared baking dish, using damp hands to make sure it's firm. Spread the dates over top, then crumble the reserved oat mixture on that.

Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes or until it starts to turn golden. Cool completely before cutting. Store in the freezer, and eat it cold.

1. To make oat flour, just grind a scant cup of rolled oats in a food processor until a fine flour forms.
2. I used 14 dates because I only had that many.
3. If you find the date mixture to be a little too thick, add a splash of water and blend again.
4. I know it's a weird sized pan, but I don't have a standard square pan right now. Sorry!

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