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I have decided to live/eat as healthy as possible these next two weeks before Thanksgiving. And why? So I can eat as much as I want, when I want, the week of Thanksgiving and still fit in my jeans. Will this actually happen? I don’t honestly know. I have a bad track record. I say, “No carbs with week!” And then I read about an amazing chocolate cake recipe I JUST HAVE TO TRY! You can see where this is going…

Anyway, the goal is 45 minutes of cardio four days a week until Thanksgiving and to eat as well-balanced a diet as possible. That means I’ll have to get up early and go to the gym before work. Blech! I am certainly not going to get up at the crack of dawn 6am and cook anything. I can’t work out on an empty stomach though. And I don’t want any of those overly sweet energy bars sold commercially. These bars are just perfect. They put a tad bit of food on your empty stomach without overwhelming you with bulk and sugar. And they are a snap to throw together.

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Almond Date Breakfast Bars (a slightly altered Smitten Kitchen cookbook recipe)

  • 1 cup chopped dried pitted dates
  • 1 1/4 cups quick rolled oats
  • 3 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Line and 8×8 inch glass pan with parchment paper, leaving enough to go up all the sides of the pan. Stir together the dates, oats, flour, wheat germ, almonds, salt, and cinnamon. In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the almond butter, olive oil, honey, orange zest, and almond extract until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir until well combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pan, pressing the mixture firmly into it.

Bake the bars for 20 to 25 minutes or until browned around the edges. They will still seem pretty soft when you remove them but as they cool they will harden. Once cool completely, use a serrated knife to cut them into bars. If still too crumbly, place in the fridge for 30 minutes then cut them. Makes 16 2-inch square bars (165 calories per bar).

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