Food co-ops are my happy place.
As soon as I walk in I’m bombarded by those typical co op smells. There’s the huge display of fresh produce, smelling like the fields where it was grown and the bulk aisles give off strong smells of hearty grains and sweet trail mixes. The freezer has every type of frozen fruit and all those “healthy” ice creams that force you to muster enough will power to walk away without 6 of them in your hand.
The prepared food section is top three on my ranking of the co op’s “sections” (yes, I have a ranking, don’t you??). Bowls spill over with crisp string beans, tofu marinated in at least three different sauces and noodle salads speckled with sesame seeds. The drink case glints with every single brand of iced tea ever created (no, seriously).
And then. There it is.
The snack section. Here, the possibilities are endless. Organic cheddar puffs, salted seaweed strips, spelt pretzels, dark chocolate macaroons, popcorn tossed lightly in olive oil and those puffy veggie chips that I don’t think have every been proven to actually contain vegetables. Whatever. They’re delicious. And then, one of my all time favorites: the Fig Newmans.
Yes, Newmans. When I was growing up this was all I knew about the famous Paul Newman. Here’s how my brain was working:
Other Person: “Wow, Paul Newman is so talented. Have you seen him in that movie?”
6 Year-Old Me: “Yea, I don’t know what you’re talking about but have you tried the cookies he makes? Life changing.”
Fig Newman’s are one of those cookies where you look at the serving size (two?!?!) and just laugh. The cakey outside is soft and lightly sweet, crumbling just enough to expose the figgy center.
The right way to eat one? Carefully nibble off the rounded edges before actually biting into the filling. You can look it up, I know what I’m talking about.
So, today, in honor of this snack perfection, I have a figgy and oaty bar. The cakey cookie part is thinner, allowing for a higher ratio of fruit to coating. The bars are thick with figs and dates, providing the same sticky bite provided by the classic. These bars make a perfect mid-afternoon snack, especially when they’re warm and soft from the oven.
Makes 9 large bars
8 oz. dried figs
4 oz. pitted dates
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or honey, if not vegan)
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
0.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
0.25 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
0.25 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsweetened apple sauce
5 tablespoons melted coconut oil (or other oil)
3 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey, if not vegan)
0.25 cup water
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cut stems from figs. Add figs and dates to food processor and grind until it forms a paste. Mix in syrup, water, lemon juice, cinnamon and ginger and process until completely mixed. It will be VERY sticky.
3. In another bowl, combine flour, oats, powder and salt. Add apple sauce, oil, syrup and water. Mix until combined into a thick dough.
4. Grease an 8 by 8 baking dish and coat bottom with half of the oat mixture. Then add fig and date filling. This can be a very sticky process so I recommend covering the oat layer with blobs of the fig and smoothing with lightly wet fingers. Top with the rest of the dough.
5. Bake for 30 minutes, until crust is lightly browned.
6. Let cool completely and then cut in to 9 or 12 bars.
These bars are extremely photogenic, so I'd love to see yours! You can tag me on Instagram with #thesweetestbeet. And don't forget to like me on Facebook, follow me on Pinterest and subscribe to the blog to stay updated on my baking adventures!
Another huge thank you to everyone who came out last Saturday to my final market day in Londonderry. It was so great to meet you and eat all sorts of doughnuts and cakes!