Mama’s Fig Bars

School for the kids has started but the produce section is still rich with end of summer fruit and veggies! We are eating as much of these goodies as we can. Lots of peaches, nectarines, plums, berries, figs, summer squash, local corn, tomatoes, we love it all!! One of my favorite end of summer fruits is figs! I love grilling or sautéing them in balsamic vinegar and throwing in a salad or cutting them up and throwing them in our overnight-oats or cereal. My girls are less wild about eating them right out of the fruit bowl but once cut up, cooked or baked they love them, too. Their natural sweetness, like medjool dates, lends itself well to lots of dishes acting as a key sweetener. Figs nutritionally offer a number of essential minerals (magnesium, calcium, copper and potassium along with vitamin K and B6 and are high in fiber. When figs are dried their nutritional value increases. For example half a cup of fresh figs contains as much calcium as a half a cup of milk but only two large dried figs contains an equivalent amount of calcium. Given this and their multi-purpose uses, we always keep a container of dried figs on hand to throw in dishes with or in place of dates or just to snack on. Figs are one of my favorite post-meal sweet treats.

The perfect afternoon snack or breakfast on the go. High-fiber, naturally sweetened and delicious!

The perfect afternoon snack or breakfast on the go. High-fiber, naturally sweetened and delicious!  The crust, the filling…. I can’t get enough!

To use up some of my seasonal fresh figs I decided to whip up some with my version of Fig Newtons, replacing the half cup of dried dates (or figs) with a cup and half of fresh figs.

When I first developed this recipe, the girls were very little and going through a “I hate everything green” phase. I couldn’t hide broccoli, kale or spinach in any of their shakes or meals because if they saw anything green the dish was off the menu and usually on the floor! So I had to get inventive and even sneakier. I was successful in pureeing a little kale and mixing it in with the sweet mixture of dried figs and medjool dates, in between two layers of their favorite granola bar-like mixture. Double success! The kale is completely optional and something I don’t add in all the time.  But if you want to sneak in some extra greens, this is a good one to try.  The sweetness from the figs and dates, masks the taste of the greens and when pureed no one will know!  Once the girls were out of the “I hate greens” phase I let them in on my secret ingredient but they didn’t tell their dad so they called these bars “Shhhhh Bars” because “shhhh don’t tell Daddy there is kale in his dessert!”

Mama’s Fig Bars

Slice them up, individually wrap them then store in fridge for a few days or freezer for up to 3 months.

Slice them up, individually wrap them then store in fridge for a few days or freezer for up to 3 months.

A delicious take on an old classic snack or dessert. There are a few modifications for this recipe. As noted above the kale is completely option but an easy way to sneak a little extra bang into your kiddos (or hubby’s) sweet snack. For the nut-free version simply replace the almond flour with coconut or all-purpose gluten-free flour. If you have access to fresh figs, try replacing either the half cup of dried figs or half cup of dates with a cup and half to two cups of fresh, ripe figs.

FILLING
½    cup dried unsulfured figs (packed)
½    cup medjool dates (packed), pitted
½    cup kale leaves, stems removed (optional)
2     tbsp maple syrup
2     tbsp lemon juice
1     tsp vanilla
1     tsp lemon zest
CRUST 
1     cup gluten-free oat flour
½    cup gluten-free oats
⅔    cup almond flour (or coconut flour)
⅓    cup tapioca flour
1      tsp cinnamon
½    tsp baking soda
¼    tsp fine sea salt
⅓    cup coconut oil
2     tbsp maple syrup or honey

Preheat oven to 375F.   Line a rectangular 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper, reserving a little extra paper on both ends.

If the figs and dates are hard, soak them in warm water for about 5 minutes.  Remove the stems of the figs and slice them into quarters.  Place figs, dates and other filling ingredients into a food processor and process until a paste forms and the kale has been well cut up.

In a medium size bowl, combine the oats, flours, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Slowly stir in the oil and syrup.  If the mixture is still a little dry, add a splash of water.  Press a little more than half of crust mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Fold over the extra parchment paper at the two ends over the crust to flatten with the palm of your hand or a pastry roller.  Spread the filling evenly over the bottom crust.  Lay the remaining crust mixture over the filling, gently flattening it with the back of a spatula or spoon.  Bake bars in the hot oven for 15-18 minutes or until the upper crust is lightly browned.

Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

Makes about 16 bars.

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