Introduction: Healthy Sweet Potato Pie Bars
One of the things I look forward to most in fall is all of the cozy food. Pumpkin spice and apple cider everything seem to be everywhere starting as early as September. It's very hard to just pass by the local coffee shop without getting something. Advertisements for doughnuts, tea, muffins, a sugary, spiced form of coffee, breads, pies, bagels, some kind of sticky bun--even ice cream--are all over the place. After about a week of stuffing my face with all of these delicious goodies, I realize I'm going to need to make a change to my, say, festive fall diet full of refined sugar and simple carbs. There is a difference between processed, refined foods and natural sugar or complex carbs (if you want a more in-depth explanation, check out these two websites here and here). Your body breaks down refined sugar (sucrose sometimes mixed with high fructose corn syrup) faster than natural sugar (like fructose, glucose, galactose, etc.). This means that even though your body doesn't need much sucrose, you don't feel full after eating a lot of it because your body has already broken it down. Natural sugar takes longer to digest, so you'll feel more nourished after eating it. Anyway, why am I telling you all of this? This recipe is titled "healthy." That does not mean it is sugar free, but it does mean that it is free from the sugars that are most harmful to you. The sweeteners that I use are as natural as possible, and are kept to a minimum.
Kitchen Supplies and Ingredients
- Food processor or blender
- Large mixing bowl
- Measuring cups and spoons
- 9 x 9 inch baking pan
- Non-stick spray
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup almonds (if they're salted, just don't add more salt to the crust)
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 1/4 cup ground or whole flax seeds (it doesn't really matter since it goes in the food processor anyway)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. cloves
- 10 dried dates
- 2 Tbsp. water
- 3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 medium sweet potatoes
- 1 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (cow's milk works too)
Step 1: Prepare the Sweet Potatoes
Clean the potatoes thoroughly, poke a hole in them, then place them in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. It's easier later on if they're extra soft, so I would bake them for 50 minutes to an hour. Once they're done, put them in the refrigerator to cool.
Step 2: Process the Dry Ingredients for the Crust
*My food processor is a little small, so I couldn't add all of the ingredients to it at once. If yours is big enough, there's no reason to do the ingredients separately, as long as you make sure you add the dry ones before the wet.
Add the almonds, oats, pecans, salt, flax seeds, and chia seeds to the blender or food processor. Grind until the mixture is fine. It won't be as powdery as flour--it's more like brown sugar.
The picture shows all my ingredients in a bowl together, because, again, I can't fit them all in the food processor at once.
Step 3: Combine the Wet Ingredients for the Crust
Add the dates, water, 1 1/2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup, and pure vanilla extract to the food processor. You can leave your dry ingredients in the food processor as you add these, or you can put the dry ingredients in a bowl off to the side and do the wet ingredients on their own. If you do the wet ingredients on their own, the final product does not look homogeneous. The date 'skins,' if you will, are hard to get all the way assimilated, which is fine. You can see what mine looked like in the picture, and I didn't notice any chunks in the final product.
Step 4: Combine All Parts of the Crust
If you were able to fit your wet and dry ingredients into the blender or food processor, then you should have already accomplished this. If you did your ingredients separately, then now is the time to combine them in the mixing bowl. I just used a spatula and not an electric mixer, but either of them should work. I could tell mine was done when the 'dough' started to form a ball.
Step 5: Shape Dough in the Pan
Grease/spray the pan so the bars are easier to get out when they're done. Dump the dough into the 9 x 9 baking pan, and press it with you fingers or a spatula to spread it. I got down next to the counter when I was done to make sure I spread it evenly.
Step 6: Making the Filling
Hopefully by now your potatoes are cool enough to touch. Because they're overdone, I just peeled off the skin with my hands. If this doesn't work for you, feel free to use a vegetable peeler. Cut the amount of potato you need (if you feel just as bad about wasting food as I do, you could put that extra 1/2 of a potato towards another recipe...I really like making sweet potato breakfast bowls--just mash the sweet potato with some cinnamon and add some almond butter, Greek yogurt, nuts, berries, raisins, etc.). Put the potato in a mixing bowl, and add the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, almond milk, and 1 1/2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup. If the potato is soft enough, you can mash it using a spatula, but if it's still a little tough, use a mixer. Once it's all nice and fluffy, empty the bowl into the baking pan. Spread the filling evenly over the crust, and sprinkle on top any extra toppings you want (pecans, raisins, spices, etc.).
Step 7: Bake & Done!
Place your masterpiece in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy the delicious smell of healthy fall food! And last but not least, portion and serve...I love eating these at all times of day! They're perfect for breakfast, post-workout fuel, or a nice little "dessert" after supper.
Participated in the
Potato Speed Challenge