Searching for Summer


Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Apricot-Almond Crumb Bars


I take a lazy, low-tech approach to DIY (Do It Yourself), but by February I’m glad I made a little time last year to preserve one of the best parts of summer – fruits. 


I don’t bother with a canner or dehydrator, but do task my freezer with storing some of the best Farmer’s market berries and other fruit.  Plus, I make a batch or two of no-cook freezer jam which tastes more like a fresh peach, nectarine or berry than cooked versions.  I even tuck a pie filling in the freezer for a summer-in-winter dessert treat.  (See “Easy Freezing Tips” below.)

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto



Last week I found myself craving a fruit  not in my stash – apricots. There’s nothing like sinking one’s teeth into a perfectly ripe June apricot to launch the summer fruit season. I satisfied my craving with plump, dried apricots baked into a cookie bar with almonds, fragrant cardamom and cinnamon.

 Dried fruits make a handy take-along snack, a chewy accompaniment to a platter of cheese and crackers, or a flavor-balancing drop-in for a hearty winter stew. A concentrated source of nutrients and fiber, they satisfy a sweet tooth and need for quick energy.  A little goes a long way – just a 1/2 cup is considered a “fruit serving” according to the MyPlate guide ( 

This time of year dried figs answer my hunger for a late-summer luxury, creamy fresh figs.  My Valentine’s Day dinner will start with warm prosciutto-wrapped blue cheese stuffed figs:   Stem dried figs and stuff each with a nugget of blue cheese; wrap with strips of prosciutto, brush with balsamic vinegar mixed with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh pepper.  Bake in a hot oven for 5 to 8 minutes.   Sprinkle with chopped fresh thyme and serve warm.

If you find yourself wanting more than a handful of dried fruit for dessert, these Apricot-Almond Crumb Bars are worth a few minutes of your time to make.  Don’t tell your tasters they’re packed with wholesome ingredients …or they’ll disappear. 

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto



Nutrition Note:

Six dried apricots (40 grams) supply 100 calories, dietary fiber, vitamin A, potassium and other minerals.  Dried figs have a generous 5 gram if dietary fiber in a 1/4-cup (40 gram) serving and supply a number of other essential nutrients, too.  


Freezing Tips: For berries, rinse and place in a single layer on large baking sheets lined with clean kitchen towels or paper towels to dry.  Place sheets in the freezer for a couple of hours or until solid. Gently remove frozen berries from tray and pack in plastic freezer bags with a zipper lock (or other freezer container).  For an apple, peach or nectarine pie or cobbler filling, toss sliced fruit with sweeteners, starch (tapioca, flour or cornstarch typically), spices and other seasonings as directed by your recipe and freeze in a plastic freezer bag. To use, thaw and bake in pie crust or with a topping, according to the recipe.

Apricot-Almond Crumb Bars

Adapted from a recipe in the booklet, The New American Plate, Meals for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life by the American Institute of Cancer Research.


1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon table salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup canola oil

 5 tablespoons orange juice, divided use

1/3 cup chopped natural almonds

1 1/2 cups (about 7 ounces) plump dried apricots, finely chopped

1/2 cup reduced-sugar apricot preserves


Preheat oven to 350°.  In medium bowl, combine flour, oats, sugar, zest, cinnamon, cardamom, salt and soda.  Stir to blend well.  Stir in canola oil and 3 tablespoons of the juice.  Remove 3/4 cup crumb mixture to separate bowl and stir in almonds; set aside for topping.  Press remaining crumb mixture in bottom of 9-inch square pan that has been coated with cooking spray.  In small bowl, combine apricots, preserves and remaining 2 tablespoons of juice. Drop spoonfuls over crust and spread to an even layer.  Sprinkle evenly with almond crumb mixture and gently pat down.  Bake for 35 minutes or until top and edges are light golden brown.  Cool in pan on a wire rack.  Cut into 20 bars. 


Nutrients per serving (1 bar):  Calories 141; Fat 5 g; Saturated Fat 0.5 g;  Protein 2 g; Carbohydrate  23 g; Sugar 12 g; Dietary fiber 2 g; Sodium 54 mg; Percent Daily Value (DV):  A 2% DV;  Calcium 2% DV; Iron 4% DV.


© 2013 Lorelle S Del Matto

lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.

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