Thinking back to ten years ago when Alex and I first started cooking, the food landscape in America was almost unrecognizable. We had never heard of quinoa. No one we knew ate kale. Energy bars hadn’t been invented yet. Heck, there wasn’t even Pinterest or Instagram. In 2010, we decided to start a website to record some of the vegetarian “real food” recipes we were making at home. At the time, not many people we knew were into cooking or real food. But gradually these ideas started to catch on.
Around that time I made my first raw brownies in our tiny galley kitchen, using a recipe adapted from the blog My New Roots. It was an “ah ha” moment for me, realizing how delicious the simple combination of Mejdool dates and nuts could be. (No sugar? No flour? This is incredible!) This began a long love affair with all things energy bars and bites. They’ve caught on like wildfire; you’ll see recipes all over the internet these days. And of course, a few companies have come along and become household names using the simple equation of blending dates and nuts into a tasty treat.
When we started A Couple Cooks, never did I think it would still be around in seven years. We started it with the raw passion of spreading the love of real food and the joy of home cooking. Most of my first posts were enthusiastically praising the flavor of foods I’d just discovered: kale, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, quinoa, energy bars. Never did I dream that in a handful of years, these foods would start to part of the American consciousness. It’s been incredible watching people all over the country come to love the flavors of real food too.
It was this passion that led us to writing a cookbook to continue to sharing accessible, creative real food recipes in a physical, tangible way. The past few weeks, Alex and I received and have been editing the first pass pages of the book (our recipes and photos that have been set into the graphic design by our publisher). It feels incredible to have the pages in hand, something altogether different from the digital recipes we publish online every week. Though we love every recipe we share in this space, having a collection of 100 recipes bound together on paper is something incredibly special. I’m not sure about you, but now that digital is king, print books seem like an incredible novelty to me. (They actually print things on paper and sell them in stores?!)
We can’t wait to share our final cookbook with you in just 5 months in February of next year! In the meantime, here’s a simple recipe for pumpkin spice energy bars. They’re made with a few pantry spices to create a pumpkin spice blend, toasted in a dry skillet to bring out the flavor. Like many energy bars, the recipe uses Medjool dates, a large variety with a caramel flavor that’s becoming common in grocery stores. The dates and pumpkin spice blend are simply mixed in a food processor with cashews and almonds, resulting in a sweet, spiced dough. Spread the dough on a sheet pan, freeze for a few minutes to set, and then cut it into bars. The pumpkin spice flavor is perfect for the changing seasons, and it hits all the diet categories: vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free.
Looking for healthy snacks?
We reach for healthy snacks on the regular. A few of our other top healthy snacks:
- Vegetable Hummus Tortilla Rollups
- Homemade Za’atar Pita Chips
- 5 Ingredient Classic Homemade Hummus
- Chipotle Vegan Queso Dip
Looking for vegan recipes?
Vegan recipes are becoming part of our everyday, though we typically eat vegetarian. Here are a few of our recent vegan recipes:
- Creamy Vegan Pasta Marinara
- Homemade Sopes with Black Beans
- Simple Chickpea Curry with Tart Cherries
- Greek Nachos with Cilantro Drizzle
- Refried Bean Tacos with Chipotle Cashew Cream
- Chocolate Brownie Spelt Vegan Pancakes
- Tart Cherry Cardamom Baked Oatmeal
Did you make this recipe?
If you make these pumpkin spice cashew energy bars, we’d love to hear how they turned out. Leave a comment below or share a picture on Instagram and mention @acouplecooks.
This recipe is…
Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free.Print
Look for Medjool dates, a large variety with a caramelly flavor. Medjool dates are becoming available in most mainstream grocery stores.
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 cups Medjool dates (about 20)
- 3/4 cup cashews
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- In a small, dry skillet, heat the cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg over low heat for about 2 minutes until fragrant, then remove from the heat.
- Remove the pits from the dates. In the bowl of a food processor, add the spices, dates, cashews, almonds, vanilla, kosher salt, and 1/2 tablespoon of water. Process until combined and a sticky dough forms, with large chunks of nuts.
- Spread the dough into an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Then use a glass to roll over the top to a uniform thickness, about 1/2 inch thick. Freeze for 15 minutes until set, then cut into rectangles.
About the Authors
Cookbook Author and writer
Sonja Overhiser is author and recipe developer of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best vegetarian cookbooks” by Epicurious, and a recipe developer and healthy & sustainable food advocate behind the award-nominated food blog A Couple Cooks.
Cookbook Author and photographer
Alex Overhiser is photographer and recipe developer of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best new cookbooks” by Bon Appetit, and a recipe developer, photographer, and technical expert at A Couple Cooks.