No-Bake Caramel Apple Pie Bars

Apple pie. Apple crisp. It’s all been done before. And while I’d never pass up a slice of warm apple pie, there must be an easier alternative to rolling out crust and turning on the oven. Enter No Bake Caramel Apple Pie Bars. Not only are they easy to make, but they also contain mostly natural sugar from dates and are dairy-free and vegan-friendly.

Enjoy these bars while apples are in season, from now through November.

No-Bake Caramel Apple Pie Bars

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

For the "caramel"

1 cup Medjool dates (approximately 8 dates), soaked in warm water for 15 minutes

1/4 cup almond milk, warmed

1/4 teaspoon salt

For the apple pie bars

1 cup walnuts

1 cup Medjool dates (approximately 8 dates)

4 tablespoons coconut oil, divided

4 medium apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 1-inch cubes

2 1/2 tablespoons coconut sugar, divided

2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

3/4 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Optional: coconut whipped cream for serving

Instructions:

For the “caramel”

Add dates to a food processor or blender and pulse until only small pieces remain. Pour in warm almond milk and pulse until a pastelike consistency forms. Scrape down edges and pulse again until the consistency is creamy. Add salt and pulse again.

For the apple pie bars

Line 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.

Pulse walnuts and dates in a food processor until crumblike consistency is formed. Transfer to baking pan and firmly press mixture down into the parchment paper to form a crust. Refrigerate to harden.

Add apples and 2 tablespoons coconut oil to a microwave-safe bowl and cook on high for 1 minute. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, nutmeg, all-purpose flour and 1 tablespoon coconut sugar. Microwave again for 4 minutes, or until apples are softened and easy to pierce with a fork.* Stir apples together to coat evenly with juice.

Meanwhile, in a medium microwave-safe mixing bowl, add oats, whole-wheat pastry flour, walnuts, 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Mix with a fork to combine. Microwave for 1 minute. Mix. Add 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Microwave for 30 to 60 seconds and mix again.*

Remove crust from the refrigerator. Spread an even layer of caramel mixture over top. Top with an even layer of apples. Sprinkle oat mixture over apples. Refrigerate for at least an hour to let harden. Cut into squares to serve.

Optional: Serve with coconut whipped cream.

*Note: Cooking times may vary depending on microwave oven.

Per serving: Calories 390; Fat 20 g (Saturated 7g); Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 170 mg; Carbohydrate 54 g; Fiber 7 g; Sugars 34 g; Protein 6 g; Vitamin A 2% DV; Vitamin C 10% DV; Calcium 6% DV; Iron 8% DV

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Kara Lydon, R.D., LDN, RYT, is a registered dietitian nutritionist, yoga teacher and self-proclaimed foodie. She is a recipe developer, food photographer, writer and spokesperson. Her food and healthy living blog, The Foodie Dietitian, features seasonal vegetarian recipes and simple strategies to bring more mindfulness and yoga into your life.

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