Healthier Date Bars

4.60 from 5 votes
1 hour
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Healthier Date Bars are a twist on a classic that never goes out of style!  This updated version is made just a touch healthier!

Photo of Healthier Date Bars stacked three high with more in the background.

The inspiration behind this recipe:

I never met my husband’s Grandma Langhoff (aka Viola), but she had to be a pretty special lady.  Any woman whose hubby (after they’ve been married for close to a lifetime) hugs her so tightly that her glasses get pushed up has got to be a goddess.  I’m told Grandpa Louie was quite the pistol, too.

The first time I had Grandma Langhoff’s date bars, my husband was baking a bunch of things to give to his employees at Christmas.

He’s very good at baking for which I’m grateful because I’m not a big baker.

Photo of an elderly couple embracing.
Louie and Viola Langhoff

When my hubby was making the date bars, my quiet (well, maybe not-so-quiet) response was:  Eww.  I’ve never been a fan of dried fruit.  Raisins, prunes and even sun-dried tomatoes give me pause.  Fruit cake?  Don’t even.

Somehow, though I’ve fallen in love with dates.  There were a few pieces of the date bars left after my hubby’s baking extravaganza and I couldn’t stop eating them!  I later tried Medjool dates and they tasted like candy to me!

For someone who is not into baking or dessert-making, I love something sweet at the end of a meal.  With dates, I can satisfy the craving and think I’m doing something good for myself!

Photo of Healthier Date Bars cut into pieces.

On a recent trip to Costco, I spotted 3-pound bags of organic dried, pitted dates.  Time to make Grandma Langhoff’s delicious and chewy date bars!

I can never leave a recipe alone as written.  I wanted to update Viola’s date bars and make them more healthful.

How these are more healthy:

  • Instead of the regular white sugar Viola used in the date filling, I used coconut sugar which is not as sweet as white sugar and is lower on the glycemic index.
  • I kept the brown sugar used in the crust and topping but substituted a cup of whole wheat flour for a cup of white flour.

These Healthier Date Bars are not a total health overhaul, but little changes to your everyday diet go a long way!

Grandma Langhoff chopped the dates by hand because food processors probably weren’t around when she was alive and most certainly they couldn’t afford one if they were around.

Chopping the dates is a sticky exercise but a worthwhile one.  Whenever a package states “pitted,” don’t believe it.  Be sure to check each one!

Photo of Healthier Date Bars in baking pan with server.

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Healthier Date Bars

4.60 from 5 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef's Kitchen
Healthier Date Bars are a twist on a classic that never goes out of style! This updated version is made just a touch healthier!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Desserts
Cuisine American
Servings 16
Calories 431 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pounds unsulfured pitted dates - 5 1/2 to 6 cups, finely chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups quick oatmeal
  • 2 sticks salted butter - room temperature but not soft
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Using the wrappers from the butter, lightly butter a 15 x 11 (approximately) rimmed baking sheet. Set aside.
  • Combine dates, water and coconut sugar in a saucepan.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 5-7 minutes or until it turns a soft spreadable consistency. Let cool to room temperature.
  • Combine oatmeal, butter, flours, brown sugar and baking soda in a large bowl. Mix together with your hands until crumbly.
  • Press half the crust mixture firmly into the prepared baking sheet.
  • Carefully spread date filling evenly over the bottom crust. Sprinkle the remaining crust mixture over the top and lightly press filling on top of the date mixture so it sticks to the filling.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a light golden color.

Notes

Freezer-friendly!

Nutrition

Serving: 1bar | Calories: 431kcal | Carbohydrates: 81g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 176mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 59g

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you're using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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4.60 from 5 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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23 Comments

  1. Hi Carol, thanks for the recipe , my family and friends loved it ! Love the picture as well, such a cute adorable couple!
    I have a doubt.. can the butter in the recipe be subbed with olive oil? if not fully, can I try replacing half the amount of butter with oil?
    Thanks again !

    1. Hi, Apoorva, I am really not sure. Coconut oil may work. I may have to whip up a batch and test it! Thanks so much and glad you enjoyed.

  2. Can unchopped dates be cooked down with the water & sugar, THEN pureed down in the food processor? (hand chopping gooey dates is the pits).

    1. Hi Marti, Thanks for your question. My husband tells me that he doesn’t chop them before cooking them down. I do because I want to make sure there are no pits hiding. My husband also thought you could purchase chopped dates. Boy, I sm craving these date bars now! Thanks got reading, let me know how it goes and please stay in touch!