Cocoa walnut energy bars or: How to salvage a bad date

For the first 49 years of my life I believed that dates came in hard bricks wrapped in plastic from the baking aisle of the supermarket. They tasted like sweet pencil erasers and I didn’t see the appeal. Since I changed to whole food, plant-based eating, my horizons have broadened a bit and I have discovered the wonders of dates, especially medjool dates that taste like decadent creamy caramels.

This post is not about luscious dates at all. In Canada, we have a store called Bulk Barn where you can buy just about anything from large lidded bins. It’s the perfect place to buy spices and grains, but I discovered that their dates taste a whole lot like those dates that come in the brick.

Not a problem. In this recipe, the dates are providing the sweetness and stickiness, but the flavour comes from cocoa. I’ve tried similar recipes that use all nuts, which ended up greasy, or all oats, which were dry. Using half and half seems to be a perfect compromise, and these have a chewy, rich texture. The result is reminiscent of a Larabar. You will need a high-powered blender to make these bars unless you have been waiting for your current blender to break down so you can buy a Vitamix – then go ahead with your ordinary blender. I guarantee you will burn out the motor.


Cocoa walnut energy bars

  • 1 1/4 cups (200g) dried dates
  • 1/2 cup (70g) rolled oats or steel-cut oats
  • 1/2 cup (70g) walnuts (I added a few almonds because I didn’t have quite enough walnuts)
  • 1/4 cup (25g) cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon (6g) shredded coconut


In a high-powered blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec, blend all ingredients together until smooth. I have a Vitamix and made extensive use of the tamper throughout.

Press the mixture into a container and sprinkle with coconut. If you are, unlike me, someone who likes to fuss with things, then feel free to roll these into balls and roll them in the coconut.

Refrigerate until firm and cut into bars. Store in the fridge.

Don’t make these if you can’t trust yourself not to eat the whole batch in one go. These are calorically dense and yummy treats!


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