These last couple weeks have been a bit hectic. I felt like my mind has been constantly racing in order to check items off my huge list. While price limits were set for gift giving, we did not technically set any limits on stocking stuffers. So, I ran from store to store to buy little stocking stuffers for everyone. Juice boxes, fruit snacks and puzzles for the kids, candy and mini bottles of champagne for the adults, protein bars for my dad, and so on.
Luckily, to help us keep energized, I made some Raw Chocolate-Chia Energy Bars from the newest issue of Vegetarian Times. I carried one in my purse so I wouldn’t be tempted to grab something quick and unhealthy for breakfast or lunch.
The key nutritional ingredient in these bars is chia seed. Yep, just like the seeds you use for Chia Pets. Surprisingly, they are full of fiber (7 grams per bar) and heart-healthy Omega-3 fats. I always wondered if those seeds were edible!
In 2008, my former employer held a company-wide contest using Chia Pets. Since I was the designated over-achiever in our department (read: nerd), I was named to be in charge of the Chia. I know it is advertised as being an easy thing to grow, but that was not my experience.
While the seeds sprouted a little in the beginning, I must have used too much plant food or fertilizer and fried the thing out. Pressured to enter our Chia Pet in a contest, I had to come up with a solution to our dead Chia Pet.
Yep, I cut and glued pieces of yarn all over the Chia and turned it into a party Chia Pet. While it did not take home the top prize, my craftiness did land it in the top three.
While I will never try my hand at another Chia Pet, I will continue to use chia seeds in my food. Not only are the seeds great in energy bars, but they can be added to smoothies or yogurt and even used as an egg replacer in vegan baking. Find it in the bulk spices section of your co-op.
Raw Chocolate-Chia Energy Bars
from Vegetarian Times, January 2010
1 ½ cups pitted dates
1/3 cup raw unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup whole chia seeds
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
1 cup raw slivered almonds
Place dates in a food processor and puree until a thick paste forms. Add cocoa powder, chia seeds, vanilla and almond extracts. Pulse until all ingredients are combined. Add almonds; pulse until nuts are finely chopped and well distributed through date mixture.
Spread a large sheet of wax paper on a work surface. Transfer date mixture to wax paper and use paper to press mixture into ½-inch thick rectangle. Wrap tightly and chill overnight.
Unwrap block and cut into 8 bars. Rewrap each bar in wax paper.