date bars

When it comes to sweet treats, I often find myself craving something with a chewy texture, a mild sweetness and a little nuttiness. These squares have plenty of body from the toasted oats plus all of the aforementioned flavors — along with a good dash of vanilla and orange zest to keep things interesting. Much of the sweetness comes from the dates, and the savory flavor of sesame seeds with a kiss of salt helps balance it out.

Above all else, these sweet treats are adaptable to whatever is on hand. Try substituting dried apricots for the dates and lemon zest for the orange. You could also add in other seeds like chia, flax, sunflower, pumpkin or poppy in place of the sesame seeds. Any nut butter will work as a replacement for the cashew butter. Since the bars keep well in an airtight container for several days, they make a good breakfast treat for busy weeks — or a snack to accompany a cup of tea and carry you through until the next meal.

Date and Oat Squares with Sesame Seeds

Makes 12 (2-inch) squares

2½ cups regular rolled oats

½ cup toasted almonds, chopped

6 tablespoons toasted un-hulled sesame seeds, plus more to sprinkle …read more

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