This bar has it all – all the health benefits of coconut, dried fruits, oats, sunflower seeds, pepitas, chia seeds, flax seed, Mediterranean herbs and a dash of capsaicin from the chiles. Much of that ingredient list is contained in the Avanti Natural Holistic Gourmet ™ spice mixture that I used and which distinguishes this energy bar from any others you’ve ever tasted. An “Adults Only” kind of bar, strictly for those who favor savory in the a.m. and, like me, feel like a little heat with your morning coffee is just what we need to wake the mind and body. Truthfully, it isn’t burn-your-lips hot – but I wouldn’t recommend it for tender palates… About that spice mixture. These breakfast bars, granola bars, health bars – it was difficult coming up with a name that aptly described this soft, yet crunchy, delicious, vegan, gluten-free bar with so many title-worthy ingredients, but I settled on Sweet & Spicy energy bars for brevity and simplicity’s sake and because Fruity & Spicy sounded…well, kind of fruity
Avanti Natural includes Avanti Cafe, located on 17th Street in Costa Mesa, California and Avanti Natural Store. Avanti Cafe was founded in 2005 by Chefs Mark Cleveland and Tanya Fuqua and offers healthy and delicious meals made with fresh, local and organic produce. Avanti was voted one of the Top 10 heart healthy restaurants in Orange County by Gayot in 2012. Their food supports a healthy lifestyle through delicious flavors and is vegetarian and vegan friendly. I like them because they prescribe to what I firmly believe: that you don’t have to sacrifice taste to eat healthy; you can eat well and live well. The Avanti Natural Store is an online store that ships the freshest organic and vegan cookies, brownies, salts and spices. All their products are sustainable, all natural, contain no additives and are locally grown.
Cleveland believes that what sets them apart from all the others is their ability to combine health AND flavor in every dish. He sent me three of their signature spice blends to play with and taste for myself: the Cranberry Goma Shio, Kick A$% Seeds, and the Rosemary’s Baby Nut & Spice Blend which I used in the bars. Prices start at $3.00 for their salt and spice blends and they include devilish descriptions and suggestions on how to use the blend. I wanted to do something unexpected with the spicy herbal seeded Rosemary’s Baby and decided to use it in a breakfast bar instead of festooning veggies or rice or concocting a marinade or rub – all which are excellent ways to enhance dishes with their spice blends. Rosemary’s Baby includes sunflower seeds, raw pepitas, roasted & salted pepitas, guajillo chilies, rosemary*, marjoram*, chili japonica, oregano*, poppy seeds*, chia seeds*, Avanti pink sea salt blend, orange*, lemon* (* denotes organic ingredient).
Can you imagine the panoply of flavors! I’m noshing on one as I prepare my weakened mind and body for an hour of Pilates
Sweet & Spicy Energy Bars
- 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
- 1/2 cup water
- 8 ounces (1 cup) unsweetened applesauce
- 1 cup dried fruit (I used half cranberries, half apricots)
- 1/3 cup Avanti Rosemary’s Baby Nut & Spice Mix*
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 2/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, plus additional 2 tablespoons to garnish bars if you choose
- 1/3 cup chia seeds
- Heat the oven to 400F.
- Line an 8×8 or 9x 11 baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a small bowl mix the flaxseed meal with the water and wait few minutes until it becomes gelatinous.
- In a medium size bowl mix all the ingredients with a wooden spoon or spatula until just combined.
- Spoon mixture into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until set, but still soft to the touch. After 20 minutes, sprinkle the bars with 2 tablespoons shredded coconut and return to the oven. Cool completely before cutting into bars.