Date and Nut Energy Bars

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1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup whole dates, halved and pitted
1 cup nuts (any combination of cashews, walnuts, almonds, or pistachios)
1/2-cup dried fruit (like apricots or cherries)
1/4-teaspoon salt
1/4-cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/4-cup raw sunflower or chia seeds

Cinnamon to taste 
¼ cup unsweetened coconut


1. Preheat oven to 300°. Pour juice over dates and let soak 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, place nuts and dried fruit in a food processor and pulse a few times until coarsely chopped. Add salt, cinnamon if using, and dates with juice and pulse until mixture starts to stick together. Add seeds, pulsing a few times just to incorporate.

3. Using wet hands, scoop mixture onto a work surface and form into a log about 1 3/4 in. wide and 1/2 in. thick. Use your palms to flatten into a bar, and cut bar into 8 equal bars or 16 equal squares. *Option: Roll in unsweetened coconut before baking to reduce stickiness.

4. Arrange pieces about 1 in. apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 8 minutes. Using a spatula, turn bars over and bake another 8 minutes, or until nuts are toasted (but before fruit begins to burn). Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days or in refrigerator up to 10 days.

Yield: 8 bars

Nutritional analysis per bar:
CALORIES 210 (56% from fat); FAT 13g (sat 1.4g); CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CARBOHYDRATE 22g; SODIUM 76mg; PROTEIN 6g; FIBER 3.5g
1/8 cup of Deglet Noor dates contains 964 milligrams of potassium, or 20.5 percent of the RDI.

Gloria's Banana Bread

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Ripe bananas freeze easily. Mash, adding 1 tablespoon lemon juice for each cup of bananas to prevent darkening. For this recipe, freeze in 1.5- cup quantities.

1 1/4 cups sugar 1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened 2 eggs 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (3 to 4 medium) 1/2 cup buttermilk 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour* 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup chopped nuts, if desired Place oven rack in lowest positive. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans, 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches, or 1 loaf pan, 9x5x3 inches. Mix sugar and margarine in large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. Add bananas, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients except nuts just until moistened. Stir in nuts. Pour into pans. Bake 8-inch loaves about 1 hour, 9-inch loaf about 1 1/4 hours or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans. Cool completely before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days. 2 loaves (24 slices each); 85 calories per slice.

*If using self-rising, omit baking soda and salt

To Microwave: Grease 12-cup microwavable bundt cake dish generously. Prepare batter as directed. Pour into dish. Microwave uncovered on high 12 to 14 minutes, rotating dish 1/4 turn every 4 minutes, until top springs back when touched lightly. Let stand on heatproof surface (not on wire rack) 10 minutes. remove from dish; cool.

Chocolate-peanut banana bread: Substitute 1 can (5 ounces) macadamia nuts, chopped and toasted, and 1/3 cup flaked coconut for the chopped nuts. 95 calories per slice.

Mini Banana Breads: Grease bottoms only of 10 miniature loaf pans 4 1/2 x 2 3/4 x 1 1/4 inches. Divide batter among pans (about 1/2 cup each). Bake 30 to 35 minutes. 10 loaves (8 slices each, 4 slices per serving); 205 calories per serving.

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