Banana, Fig and Walnut Bars

We all need a reliable muesli bar recipe in our repertoire.

I've made my fair share of bars over the years, stocking our freezer with my snacking experiments. It's a favourite past time of mine, one that I get a bit carried away with. But the whole family benefits. Before going to bed it's a case of asking a question and defrosting an answer. "Do you want a brownie or muesli bar for tomorrow's snack?" Though there is now precisely zero space in our freezer for ice-cube trays, so we are on the hunt for a good standalone freezer. And so, along with "brownie or muesli bar?" we're deciding on "chest or upright freezer?". Please send any recommendations you might have your way. I'm a little lost in our options. Though one question I'm no longer asking is "when will I find my perfect muesli bar recipe?"...

For a fast, peanutty bar I adore Dana's no-bake version, and after weekend ice-cream escapades, leftover egg whites get repurposed into my cardamom and dark chocolate bars. But neither of these bars were my "ideal, everyday bar". While the no-bake version is wonderfully simple, I tend to be pro-bake when it comes to muesli bars. And though delicious, I don't always want chocolate chips in my muesli bar, nor do I always have leftover egg whites. So I kept searching, combining and creating, freezing and snacking. Well, friends, I think I've found my ideal, everyday muesli bar.

It's a tahini, banana and nut bar that is neither too cakey nor tooth-sharpeningly crunchy, and certainly not too sweet. It's my ideal bar, with everyday ingredients I have on hand in my pantry, ready to be mixed and baked and frozen. And because this growing a human business means I am snacking 57 times per day, and I need tasty, wholesome bites at the ready.

Ben and I have devoured multiple variations of these bars, mixing up the nut and dried fruit content. I favour walnuts though almonds are great and perfectly crunchy. I appreciate both dried figs and dried dates equally (as they're often the two bigger, stickier dried fruits you can easily find without preservatives), and what I add depends on my pantry and my mood. As I mentioned, these are my ideal, everyday bars, so while I hope you like them too, feel free to take notes of the proportions, keep the weight measurements right and be sure to let them cool before you cut into them (otherwise it's crumble town). Mix up your ingredients to suit your preferences. A custom muesli bar is a pretty rad thing.

Happy snacking, friends.

Banana, Fig and Walnut Bars

Makes 10 bars. I used a pan that was 16.5 x 18.5cm.

2 tablespoons Flaxmeal (ground flaxseeds) + 3 tablespoons warm water
1 cup Rolled Oats
100g (~1 cup) chopped Walnuts
2 tablespoons Sunflower/Pumpkin Seeds
1 tablespoon Chia Seeds
90g (a keen 1/2 cup) chopped Dried Figs
1 large, very ripe Banana (aim for 190g skin on, 120g skin off)
2 tablespoons runny, hulled Tahini
1 tablespoons runny Honey
1/2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line your baking tray with baking paper or foil, with some sides hanging out to help you remove the bars later.
2. Combine the flaxmeal and warm water in a small mixing bowl. Stir to combine then let it sit and thicken for 15 minutes. This will become your binder in place of an egg.
3. In a large bowl, add the oats, walnuts, sunflower/pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, figs, cinnamon and salt. Stir to combine.
4. Mash the banana into a separate, smaller mixing bowl, then add it to the larger mixing bowl, along with the tahini, honey and flaxmeal/water mixture. Give everything a really good stir with a wooden spoon so that everything is incorporated and the dry ingredients are now wet.
5. Pour the mixture into the baking tray, packing it very tightly, pressing down with the moist back of a large spoon. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden on top and firm to touch. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before lifting the bars out using the sides of the baking paper. Cool on a wire rack until completely cool (this is very important - do not cut the bars while still warm). Cut into bars and wrap individually in plastic wrap so you can snack for days to come. Then go make brownies.

Heidi xo