What is it about fall and winter that makes you want to each so damn much?! Even with all those good intentions I have set myself to eat clean all year, when the temperatures drop, suddenly I’m all about cookies and cakes and crumbles. In my attempt to combine the best of both worlds (healthy eating on a comfort food appetite), I began a quest for the perfect treat. Luckily I didn’t have to look very far. In fact, the recipe found me in the form of the Dr. Weil newsletter, which also included an intriguing recipe for sweet potato bars. I thought to myself, “I like sweet potatoes. I like bars!” And the rest is history!
The recipe is simple enough and you most likely have all the ingredients in your kitchen. And even if you don’t, it’s quite easy to substitute other ingredients and still get the same delicious results. In my case, I created my own mix of nuts for the crust according to what I had on hand. I also opted for coarse sea salt in the crust which give each bite a touch of saltiness that combines well with the sweetness of the filling. These can be prepared ahead of time by baking the sweet potatoes in advance, then combining everything the day you want to serve them.
Sweet Potato Bars
Adapted from Dr. Weil
Makes 16 bars
For the crust
3/4 cup quick oats
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup pecans
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated orange zest
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil
For the filling
1 lb sweet potatoes
1/3 plain 0% Greek yogurt
3 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp grated orange zest
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1. Begin by baking your sweet potato. Preheat your oven to 400°. Prick your potato with a fork in a few spots and place it in the oven directly on the rack. Here I recommend placing a baking sheet on the rack below to catch any of the juices that may drip out of the potato. Bake for 45 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave the potato in there for another 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
2. Next, the crust. Set your oven to 375° and line an 8-inch glass baking dish with parchment paper.
3. Place the oats, brown rice flour, almonds, pecans, cinnamon, orange zest and salt in a food processor and pulse until you get a coarse mixture and the ingredients are well combined. Add the maple syrup and olive oil and pulse again until everything is well combined.
4. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and press down firmly making sure it’s evenly spread out. Pop in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
5. In the meantime, prepare the filling. Scoop out the sweet potato flesh and mash it up. Measure out 1 1/2 cups and add it to the food processor (don’t worry about cleaning your food processor in between steps). Add the eggs, yogurt, maple syrup, orange zest, cardamom and ginger, and process until smooth.
6. Once the crust is out of the oven, pour the sweet potato mixture on top and spread out evenly. Sprinkle the top with some nutmeg.
7. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the centre is set. Let the bars cool on a wire rack, then pop in the fridge for about 2 hours to cool completely.
8. Cut into 16 squares and enjoy!
[All photos are my own and not to be used without permission]