These chewy snack bars are a special treat for lunch boxes as well as for a midday snack or coffee break. Only a little light margarine and oil are needed for the dough. Dates are added for natural sweetness, and walnuts and sunflower seeds provide extra texture. The result is both nutritious and delicious. Homemade snack bars are also less expensive than store-bought versions.

Oats are an excellent source of soluble fibre, which can help to reduce high blood cholesterol levels.

Makes 16 bars l Preparation time: 15 minutes l Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

Cooking spray
2 tbsp (25 mL) light margarine
1 tbsp (15 mL) canola oil
1⁄4 cup (50 mL) light brown sugar
2 tbsp (25 mL) honey
Zest of 1 orange
2 tbsp (25 mL) fresh orange juice
1⁄3 cup (75 mL) dried pitted dates, chopped
1⁄4 cup (50 mL) walnuts, chopped
2 cups (500 mL) old-fashioned oats
2 tbsp (25 mL) sunflower seeds

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Coat a 9 x 9-in. (23 x 23-cm) square baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Place the margarine, oil, sugar, honey and orange zest and juice in a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring until the butter has melted. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the dates and walnuts. Add the oats, making sure they are evenly coated with the butter mixture.
  3. Spread the mixture in the prepared pan, pressing it down firmly and evenly. Sprinkle the sunflower seeds over the top and press down lightly to embed the seeds in the surface.
  4. Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pan. When cool, turn the contents out onto a cutting board and slice into 16 bars. The bars can be kept in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Nutritional information

Each serving (one bar) provides: calories 103, calories from fat 36, fat 4 g, saturated fat 0 g, cholesterol 0 mg, carbohydrate 16 g, fibre 2 g, sugars 8 g, protein 2 g.

Choices per serving: Carbohydrate 1, Fat 1

– from the Reader’s Digest Best Health web site

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