I buy canned broth. I do. I make my own stock in the winter when I'm feeling especially homesteady, but I also buy cartons and cans. Sorry. BPA and everything, and the environment. Plus, Mother Earth. I am occasionally a bad person, and the canned broth admission is really just the tip of the iceberg.
I don't make my own bacon, and I do occasionally, well, EAT bacon, so that's kind of a dual mea culpa right there. Saying things like this, here, is going to make me somewhat unpopular in certain circles, but you know what? That's okay. I also eat carbs. Probably too many carbs. And I drive places. And I watch stupid TV at 4am when I can't sleep. And I once put snail bait beneath my lemon tree because there were so many snails going at it in there, just eating all the leaves and having major festivals around all my beautiful lemons that I just wanted them to go away as quickly as possible. That was probably Wrong with a capital W, but I swear I only did it once.
On the plus side, I make my own energy bars. I wrote about this a few months ago when I made these little goji nibby nuggets, which were very directly inspired by the Lemon Date Bars my friend Tracy made. And I do love them, still. But I also wanted to make more flavors, more varieties, more, more, more, because I am grabby that way, so go ahead and add Grabby to the list of qualities I am somewhat but not completely ashamed of. Also, Impatient.
The Middle Eastern market near me has all kinds of treasures, and each time I wander in there I find more stuff. This place is smaller than the one where I found the za'atar, but it's right next to the farmers' market so I pop in there most Sundays. They've got three kinds of feta (from France, Bulgaria, and Greece), great flatbreads, and -- I just discovered -- date paste. I know. It's date PASTE. It's like a block of shmushed up dates just ready to be used for whatever. You don't have to pit the dates because they've already been pounded into a paste! I'm Excited with a capital E.
So I made more energy bars. Cocoa-y ones this time, with seeds. And these I keep in the freezer, individually wrapped in a bit of wax paper or parchment, and tucked into a freezer-bag, and then I just pull one out when I'm going to pick up my kids, or running out to a meeting. They'll crack your teeth if you try to bite into them right away, but after about 10 minutes they're the ideal texture and make an absolutely perfect, all-natural snack for adults or kids. They also cost relatively little, because two pounds of this paste set me back less than $4, which is ridiculous.
Go to your nearest Middle Eastern market. I'm not kidding. This is my good deed for the day, so please, do it for me. I need the brownie points.
Recipe for Chocolate Date Energy Bars
If you have a food processor, these come together very quickly. (If not, they're impossible.) Be sure to let these firm up in the fridge for several hours before cutting them into neat bars. Then wrap each one individually in parchment or wax paper, and store in the freezer. Defrost for 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature.
Makes 16 to 20, depending on how big you cut them
2 cups date paste (about 20 ounces, or 572 grams -- substitute pitted dates if you need to)*
2 cups whole almonds
1/4 cup cocoa powder
5 tablespoons seeds (I used equal parts toasted sesame seeds and hemp seeds, but I bet you could substitute flax if you like)
Line a 9" square baking pan with enough wax paper so it hangs over the left and right edges.
Topple all ingredients into a sturdy, full-size food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse about 10 times in one-second bursts. Then turn the processor on and let it whirl for a few minutes, stopping the machine now and again and scraping down the sides. Eventually, the mixture will come together in one big clump.
Transfer the mass to the square pan and, using wet fingers, press it into an even layer. Use the excess wax paper to gently cover the bars, then refrigerate for several hours, or overnight, until firm enough to cut. Invert onto a cutting board, peel off the paper, and cut into bars. Freeze individually as directed above.
*If substituting pitted dates, aim for moist ones, and use your judgment about whether to add a bit of liquid (hot water, nut butter) to bind the ingredients. You can also try making your own date paste, as I did in this date nut bread recipe.