When it rains……I cook

When it rains it pours, a nice euphemism but right now, when it rains it becomes a hurricane very quickly.

  I won’t air all our dirty laundry on my blog but suffice it to say I am a little pissed off right now. I ranted and raved yesterday and today I needed to do something. It was actually raining out (pouring for real, all day) so a run, a nice long walk with Molly, a trip to window shop, all out. Next best thing, make something delicious. I decided to try my hand at easy vegan date squares, using medjool dates…. yum…  I was on hold with a customer service department, so I stuck the phone on speaker, and got to work. I personally love graham, so I decided to take a shortcut and make my bottom layer from graham crackers, This I am now convinced was brilliant. not only did it save time, it adds a whole new dimension to what is usually essentially a date sandwich.

  For the filling I pitted and chopped 3 cups of medjool dates (about 2 cups when chopped and pitted) with some vanilla for some warmth. I want to try with other extracts, as I have had them made with orange juice concentrate and with almond and have been delightful, if you try please share how it worked!

  I topped it with a pretty classic crumble but with a little extra fiber in the form of wheat bran. I find working with my hands relaxing so I made the crumble with my hands which is a bit messy but so much fun. Molly, who very wisely stationed herself at my feet got to discover the joy that is brown sugar!

Just a heads up though, these fiber rich date squares could also be called date with the bathroom tomorrow squares if you eat too many so be sure to wash it down with a big class of your favorite milk (I vote any vanilla flavoured milk), or in my case a rose apple cider.

  The best part: I accidentally doubled the amount of brown sugar so had to make a double recipe of the crumble which meant I got to put an extra thick layer then mix the rest with some other ingredients for a bonus granola.

Stress-Relief Date Squares
Prep time: 15min        Bake time: 30min
    Serves 8

Ingredients:
3/4 cup oats
1/4 cup flour (whole wheat or white is fine)
2 tbsp wheat bran1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegan butter, softened
2 cups pitted chopped dates (about 3 cups whole medjool dates)
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp vanilla, almond or other extract
8-10 graham crackers

In an 8in square pan (or larger if you want thinner squares, mine were made in a 9in square pan) lay graham crackers to cover bottom (break as needed)

In a bowl combine oats, flour, wheat bran, brown sugar and salt. add the softened butter and combine well using a fork or your hands. set aside

In another bowl combine dates, water and vanilla, with a fork or your hands spread the mixture across the graham crackers with a spatula or again your hands. if working with your hands I recommend you moisten them with warm water before handling the dates, will help keep it from sticking to your skin and stay in the pan where you want it. its a useful trick for the spatula too.

The oat mixture can now be put on top of the dates, put about half of it in and press it down firmly, then do a second layer giving it all just a light tap to set together but remain crumbly. (unless you want to be able to eat these on the go in which case, push it all in firmly.)

in a 350 degree pre-heated oven bake for 30 min (20min if using a 9in pan), allow to cool in pan before cutting, cuts best when cold, so I allow it to cool completely in pan, score it  then put in fridge for about an hour before cutting to serve.

Bonus Granola
follow oat mixture instructions above. add the following:

1 tbsp PB2 (or natural peanut butter)
1/4 cup mixed dried fruits (or favourite dried fruits)
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp chopped roasted cashews
1 tbsp chopped almonds
1-2 tbsp honey or corn syrup

toss together all the dry ingredients before adding any wet ones. add the wet, and with wet hands mix it well but not completely (leaving clumps and loose pieces) if it doesn’t clump well add more honey/syrup spread on a lined baking tray and bake at 300 for about 40 min until toasted, stirring once or twice.

if you prefer a less sweet granola, use only 1 tbsp of syrup but add another tbsp of vegan butter.

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