Last week, I was in Warsaw, Poland on a shoot for work. It terrifies me whenever I have to go to Eastern Europe, as their "vegetarian" options are always... well... "vegetarian". It's almost always some form of potatoes with some other stodgy root veggie. Mashed potato, boiled potato, potato dumplings... In Poland, even the drink of choice, vodka, is made with... POTATOES!! It's like Bubba Gump rattling off his shrimp dishes in Forrest Gump, but substitute "shrimp" for "potato". You get the idea. It's either that or a hunk of pig in its varied forms - ham hock/ jellied pork/ roast trotters... Mmm. *Gag* To be fair, I'd never been to Poland before so I had no idea what to expect. But my initial hunch was pretty much right. In case you still haven't got the idea, this was my first ever Polish meal: Potato pancakes with a mushroom sauce, followed by a potato dumpling pasta with chanterelles since it was chanterelle season. Hahaha! It was yummy, but I had a major potato-mushroom headache hangover after this meal.
And also... Can you imagine having something along these lines at practically every meal for a whole week?! Good thing I figured I'd have to go there prepared since my blood-sugar levels need to be constantly maintained, or I'm one of those people who quickly becomes "hangry" (hungry-angry). So I came up with a little raw power bar treat to bring with me, in case I got tired of potatomania.
In thinking up what to put in these power bars, this is what I was looking for:
- Pack a protein punch as who knows where else I'd find veggie sources of protein.
- Fill me up quickly as I'd be on the move quite a bit while on a shoot.
- Give me an energy boost.
- Fibre-filled as I've no idea when the next time would be when I'd see anything fresh and green (gotta keep things "moving", you see. Ahem.)
- They NEED to be pack filled with chocolate. Because... CHOCOLATE (good too if you're premenstrual). ;p
- Naturally sweetened as I'd be eating enough crap and sugary stuff on the road already. And even if I wasn't shoveling sugar down, which I don't by the way, all that Polish potato pretty much converts to sugar anyway... So definitely no added sweeteners in these bars.
So the best base ingredients to give me all of the above: The Triple-C whammy of Cashews, Chia seeds and Cacao. Dates would also make the natural sweetener, holding all of these together while giving a fibre boost.
I used to live in Sydney, Australia, and we'd get the amazing LARABAR power bars there. This is by no means a LARABAR, but I'm channeling the Jocolat chocolate flavour of the LARABAR here. ;) I came up with these bars by taking elements from a chocolate chia bar recipe by the Vegetarian Times here, and a superfood cacao bar by This Rawsome Vegan Life here. And then I made it my own by making this mash-up of recipes here:
CACAO-CASHEW-CHIA RAW POWER BARS
- 1.5 Cups Pitted Dates (slightly less if using medjool dates)
- 1 Cup Raw Cashews
- 1/3 Cup Chia Seeds
- 1/4 Cup Cacao Nibs
- 1/3 Cup Raw Cacao Powder (unsweetened)
- 1/4 Cup Shredded Coconut
- 1/2 Cup Raisins
- 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp Vanilla Bean Powder
- 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil (more or less, depending how sticky your dates are. If you're using medjool dates, you probably won't need the coconut oil).
- Grease your baking tray with some coconut oil. If you're using baking/ waxed paper, grease that up in the tray.
- Mix all ingredients except the dates, raisins and coconut oil in your food processor and blend.
- When the above breaks down into chunks, remove 1/3 of it to save for later (I like chunkier textures so I do this. If you like it smooth, then don't save some chunky chunks).
- Mix the dates and raisins into the rest of the mixture and blend it more. Use the coconut oil to help keep things sticking if the dates aren't ultra sticky/ gooey like medjool dates (if you're using medjool dates, you probably won't need any coconut oil at all).
- After everything sticks together and is a pulpy paste, take it out of the food processor and mix this pulpy paste with the chunky chunks from point #2. Mash it all up together in a mixing bowl.
- Spread it out in your pre-greased tray. Refridgerate for an hour.
- Remove from the fridge, cut into bars and enjoy!
What I did was dust the bars down with some oat flour before wrapping them up in foil for travelling - to prevent them sticking to the foil and some hard-to-get-to unwrapping action later. How to make your own oat flour can be found in my previous post: here. They were fine travelling from my apartment to the Warsaw hotel, but I stuck them in the mini-bar fridge the moment we checked in. These babies taste a lot better when they're super-cold and just out of the fridge. The texture's less crumbly then too.
Also one more thing: drink loads of water with these as the chia seeds are gonna turn into chia gel inside you (check the chia gel photo from my oat flour pancake post)... and this is the good stuff that keeps things "moving" along your digestive tract. Especially important when you're travelling and your daily routine's turned upside down... So stay hydrated. Heh.
If you make these, let me know what you think by posting your verdict in the comments below. Thanks! :)