Michelle Darmody: Easy recipes to help sustain us as we exercise more

Michelle Darmody: Easy recipes to help sustain us as we exercise more
Picture: Fergal Phillips

With gyms shut, parks in our area have been full of people exercising, stretching and jogging. 

It is great to see so many people keeping fit and the warm spring weather helped. 

Now that training in small groups is restarting around the country here are some recipes that will help to keep your energy levels up.

Dates are sticky, which is part of their charm, but it can make them a little tricky to blitz and add to recipes. 

I find chopping them into small pieces beforehand and scraping down the sides of the bowl or blender helps. 

I generally use a soup gun rather than an upright blender as it is easier to get the sticky bits out of the blades. 

Dates vary in sweetness and texture. I am particularly fond of medjool dates as they are plumper than most others. 

They are picked when they are ripe rather than allowed to dry and they tend not to have as long a shelf live as other dates, this and the fact that they are labour intensive to farm and harvest makes them a little more expensive than other varieties.

The Toasted Pecan and Oat Bars as well as the Cocoa and Peanut Butter Squares are both dairy-free. 

There is gluten in the oats but if you are on a wheat-free diet they should also work for you.

If you feel like a sweet treat post work-out or even after a morning stroll with a cup of tea these bars are packed with flavour.

Toasted pecan and oat bars

80g of dates, destoned and chopped

15g of dried apricots, chopped

100g of pecan nuts, chopped and toasted

130g porridge oats, toasted

50g maple syrup

70g of peanut butter or almond butter

15g of dried cranberries

Michelle Darmody: Easy recipes to help sustain us as we exercise more


Line an 8 inch square tin with parchment.

Blitz the chopped dates and apricots until they look like a rough paste.

Stir the pecans and oats together. Mash the dried fruit into the nuts and oats.

Very gently heat the syrup and nut butter and pour this into the other ingredients, add in the cranberries. 

Combine everything.

Flatten the mixture into your prepared dish and place it into the fridge to harden. 

Slice into bars with a warm knife. 

Store in the fridge once cut.

Cocoa and peanut butter squares

140g of ground almonds

150g of porridge oats

300g of dates, stones removed and chopped

2 tbs of honey

2 tbs of cocoa powder

4 tbs of salted peanuts, finely chopped

4 tbs of peanut butter

Michelle Darmody: Easy recipes to help sustain us as we exercise more

Line a 9 inch square tin with parchment

Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blitz - you can pulse the blender to make this easier and you might need to scrape the ingredients back down towards the blades a few times.

Press the mixture firmly into the prepared tin and allow to cool in the fridge for about a half an hour. 

Cut it into whatever size squares you like using a warm knife.

Fig and cinnamon squares

160g of dried figs, chopped

100g of medjool dates, de stoned and chopped

175g of plain flour

1/2 tsp of baking powder, sieved

1 tsp of ground cinnamon, sieved

90g of light muscovado sugar

100g of porridge oats

175g of cold butter, cubed

Michelle Darmody: Easy recipes to help sustain us as we exercise more

Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees and line a 9 inch square tin with parchment.

Place the chopped figs and dates into 320mls of warm water and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the dried fruit has softened completely. Set aside.

Sieve the baking powder and cinnamon into the flour and mix them well. 

Add in the sugar and oats and mix these in as well.

Rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it looks like rough bread crumbs.

Press half of the mixture onto the tray and spread the fig mixture on top. 

Spread the other half of the crumble mixture on top and press it lightly.

Bake for 40 minutes or until golden. 

Slice into squares once it has cooled.

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