"I was looking for a way to have healthier snacks on hand for my kids lunches and on the go snacking. This recipe can be modified to include fruit instead of the chocolate. The date paste helps hold it together nicely and dates are known as nature's candy. No refined sugar except for in the chocolate chips. You could include carob chips or whatever kind of chips your kids like. The dried fruit version is yummy as well!"
Line a 9x13-inch baking dish with waxed paper so that the paper hangs over the edges of dish.
Combine dates and water in a food processor or blender; process until a paste forms, adding more water if needed to thin it.
Combine oats, coconut, chocolate chips, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add date paste, almond butter, applesauce, and vanilla extract; mix, using your hands, until wet ingredients are fully incorporated.
Press mixture into the prepared baking dish. Cover with another piece of waxed paper and press down using a can or mini roller. Freeze for 1 hour.
Remove dish from freezer and lift out of dish using the edges of the waxed paper. Cut into 25 squares.
I couldn't find date paste so I made my own. If you can find it already prepared that would be one less step to follow.
Bars are best kept wrapped individually for on-the-go healthy snacking. Does not need refrigeration, but my kids like them cold and I keep them in one of the drawers of my fridge so they can grab them with a yogurt or applesauce when they're making their lunches.
I used a large metal spatula to cut versus a knife.