No Bake Sesame Bars

It’s all about perspective, isn’t it?

If what you need is a recipe for a nut free /Paleo/dairy free/vegan/refined sugar free/gluten free/ grain free/ egg free etc etc snack bar, skip straight to the bottom.

If you have the patience for context, scroll on.

There are some phone calls you never want to get. Some come from people you want to impress, telling you you’ve got the day wrong for the meeting you’ve been angling for (been there). Some come from police stations, telling you they need you to come in- because they can’t tell you what’s happened over the phone (been there). And some come from daycare.

The daycare phone call is never a good one. It should have it’s own ominous ring tone. Cue the immediate game of parental ‘Chicken’ – who sees the missed call first and is on call to go and attend to it (usually the parent with the more flexible working hours it seems). Then there’s the quick calculation – is it worth dashing home first to pick up a bag of essentials for the hospital? (iPad, iPad charger, phone charger, comfort bunny, change of clothes for both of you).  And when they say ‘he’s had an accident and seems to have split his tongue’ – just how visceral is that going to be?

The answer to all of those questions are; me, yes – and very, very visceral (if you’ve ever seen a butterflied leg of lamb, you have some idea).  There are many less fun things in the world to do than drive a keening, bleeding toddler across town in peak hour traffic to the children’s hospital for 75 minutes. But it’s amazing how a spell in children’s emergency room can help reinstate a sense of perspective.

For one, tongues and lips heal remarkably quickly. For two; it seems they will rarely stitch them these days – unless severed (shudder) which means no overnight stays and general anesthetics to navigate. And for three; it’s not cancer. It’s just boyhood injuries, of which I’m sure there will be many, many more. Ah, life with a rambunctious toddler.

These sesame bars were one of the few things I grabbed out of the freezer on my way to our recent hospital sojourn to keep me ticking along (and stop me from stress eating out an entire vending machine). They’re sustaining, mildly sweet and as comforting as the sugar laden sesame bars I used to crave from the canteen on gritty school days of yore.

And better yet, with a blender or food processor, they’re a cinch to make. In the days that follows, Will was instructed to keep to cold and soft things to eat. These did not pass muster – he preferred to subsist on a solid diet of smoothies and custard until he could milk it no more.

Never fear. I demolished the lot over the course of a week, with a cup of tea at 3 pm while I counted some blessings.

Like so many things that come out of my kitchen these days, the fact that these are paleo/vegan/ grain free etc etc isn’t about cutting things out. It’s about adding things in; in this case, the gentle rubble of a mix of seeds plus the earthy caramel notes of tahini muddled with banana and honey. I’d rather eat that at 3 pm than boredom snack on a piece of toast or packet of crisps any day.

Feel free to tweak these to your own tastes and desires- swap the tahini for peanut or almond butter if you don’t need a nut-free solution. Lob in a sprinkling of sea salt over the top for a more sophisticated slant, or cut them into small squares and dip them in dark chocolate. Swap the honey for rice malt syrup, date syrup or maple syrup – and try switching out the coconut oil for melted butter if that’s what you have on hand. You don’t have to advertise all the things that aren’t in them- unless of course you’re hosting some folks who have specialty diet requirements- in which case- surely having something like this available is the true definition of hospitality. I’ve found they go just as well as a bar with a cup of coffee or tea as cut into dainty squares and had with a glass of something stronger at the close of a meal.

The only trick is to cut them once they’ve been frozen for an hour or two, and then wrap them up in greaseproof paper if you plan on taking them on the go.

Otherwise eat one and enjoy the serenity – while you can.

No Bake Sesame Bars

Makes 8 bars, or 16 squares for snacks


1 ripe banana
2 tbsp liquid coconut oil (or melted butter)
4 tbsp tahini (or sunflower seed butter/peanut butter/almond butter etc)
2 tbsp honey (or rice malt sugar, date syrup or maple syrup)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
100 g pumpkin seeds
100 g sunflower seeds
4 tbsp sesame seeds
3 tbsp chia seeds

Here’s how we roll

1) Line a 20cm square cake tin with greaseproof paper.

2) Combine the wet ingredients in a blender or food processor and blitz until you have a smooth slurry.

3) Add the dry ingredients.

4) Pulse until you have a cohesive mass, but still with distinct seeds dotted throughout.

5) Press the mix into the base of your lined baking tin and use the base of a glass or the tips of your fingers to press it all the way to the edge and flat.

6) Transfer to the freezer and freeze for 2 hours. After 2 hours remove the slab and cut into bars. Either wrap individually in greaseproof paper for ‘grab and go’ or return to the freezer to continue to set.

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