seawheeze sea salt caramel bars – yum!

I first met Kate on Heartbreak Hill in Boston, where she was (rather aggressively) cheering on marathoners, sometimes leaving the sidelines to run next to friends, helping them up the toughest part of the Boston Marathon. As an athlete training for Ironman Mont Tremblant (her goal is to do it in under 11:15), a keyleader at lululemon Burlington and a nutrition student (currently working on her Masters with a concentration on sports nutrition), Kate was the perfect person to take on the task of inventing our very own recipe for Seawheeze Bars.

the requirements were:

• the bars had to be easy and quick to make
•  they had to be nutritious and good for post-run recovery
•  they had to be delicious

Kate tinkered in her test kitchen and came up with this vegan, gluten-free recipe that you can make as a recovery treat after your next long run for SeaWheeze training.

seawheeze sea salt caramel bars
Makes 12-15 bars

• 4 cups of fresh pitted Medjool dates (about 48 dates)
• 3 cups of raw cashews
• 4 tablespoon chia seeds
• 2 tsp sea salt
• dash of vanilla extract (optional)


1. Place the pitted dates in a bowl and soak in water for 15 minutes. (This can be longer or shorter depending on the amount of time you have. The purpose is to soften them to make them process more easily into a paste). Drain the dates.

2. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit

3. Put all ingredients (dates, cashews, chia seeds, sea salt and vanilla (if you are using it) in a food processor. Process the mixture for about a minute. You may need to stop the processing and scrape the sides of the bowl and then process again.

4. Once the mixture is smooth, form the mixture into bars with your hands and place on a cooking sheet.

5. Bake* the bars for 15 minutes. Remove and put them on a pan with wax paper or parchment paper and place in the freezer until you are ready to enjoy!

*the purpose of baking the bars is to take out stickiness, not to make the bars crunchy. Your final bar should be soft yet still together.

where's the caramel?

The caramel flavour in the bars comes from the dates. By processing them, you get a smooth, sweet caramel-like substance without the heavy cream and butter which is what "real" caramel is made of (plus loads of sugar). Dates provide great fuel for runners, and is much easier on your stomach than its non-vegan. sugar-filled counterpart.

quick nutrition synopsis

Great source of easily digestible energy for a pre-run snack or for post-run recovery to replenish your glycogen stores. Rich in antioxidants, iron and potassium.

Good source of protein, B-vitamins for energy and magnesium to help with muscle function and prevent muscle cramps and muscle soreness fatigue.

chia seeds
Easily digestible fuel, that’s rich in omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, protein, vitamins and minerals. Chia was made famous in the book Born to Run as it was the super seed of the Tarahumara tribe. Chia seeds are a staple in their diet because of their ability to provide an abundant source of energy and nutrients.

sea salt
Salt is essential for muscle function. Runners lose salt through sweat (and can lose a lot especially when training and racing in the summer heat!) and if the electrolytes are not properly replaced, this can lead to muscle cramping, soreness and fatigue. Consuming a high quality sea salt is better than table salt since the sea salt contains the trace minerals essential for your well-being and it is not processed like table salt. It’s free of additives, bleaching agents and stabilizing agents.

(vanilla extract)
Kate made the vanilla extract optional because she’s allergic and can't have it, so she couldn't taste test with it but in typical caramel sea salt recipes, it calls for vanilla. It also is not providing much nutritional value for runners.

feedback from the office

I made the bars at the office with Heather from our Oakridge  store and we passed out samples for feedback. Note – this batch was eaten straight out of the oven without cooling & freezing:

the verdict...

“I am a hardcore "bar" addict (larabars, luna bars, elevate me, you name it - comes with being paleo-ish) and liked how moist and soft they were compared to the others that can be really dry” – Steph, Ecommerce

“Creamy, delicious, nutty and not too sweet. I really loved them. I honestly can't believe they didn't have butter in them - they tasted so good, I assumed they must be bad for me.” – Lesia, Brand Experience

“As a person who does not regularly eat any kind of bar, I thought they were tasty. I think if you’re planning on cutting them into larger pieces though they might need to be a teeny bit more firm?” – Melissa, Brand Experience

Thank you to Kate for developing our first-ever recipe for the lululemon test kitchen! If you’re wondering what’s next for our recipe developer, she plans to be working as a sports nutritionist by July 2013 and will write a cookbook for endurance athletes by January 2017. You can also check out what she's up to on her personal site, Iron Nourishment.

read more related posts:


What if you tried flax seed in addition to or in lieu of chia seed? Where’s the “caramel” come into this recipe?

Comment by Jeanine — June 26, 2012 @ 6:58 am

I’ve tasted the Seawheeze bars and they are AMAZING! Great blog post Alana!

Comment by Joe — June 26, 2012 @ 7:05 am

Where’s the caramel in these “sea salt CARAMEL” bars? Don’t you think the name is a little misleading?

Comment by Eliza — June 26, 2012 @ 7:08 am

Wow! Looks really yummy. Thanks for the recipe!

Comment by Lorii Abela — June 26, 2012 @ 8:40 am

I know the answer to the Caramel questions – The dates provide a Caramel like flavor (hence the name), but provide healthier benefits. Caramel has heavy whipping cream and butter. Not great for runners…

Comment by Riley — June 26, 2012 @ 10:04 am

What is the nutritional content? Calories, etc?

Comment by Tracey — June 26, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

Might anyone be able to suggest a non-nut substitution for the cashews (for those with nut allergies)…? These otherwise sound great!

Comment by lauren — June 26, 2012 @ 12:21 pm

I have a nut allergy and was wondering if anyone had ideas for a substitute? I am always on the go and fall short with nutritional snacks as I can’t have many bars. These seem like a great on the go snack!

Comment by Lauren — June 26, 2012 @ 12:29 pm

Try substituting pumpkin seeds or sunflower or a mixture instead of the cashews. Healthy fats, fibre, magnesium, you may have to experiment with the quantities

Comment by Debra — June 26, 2012 @ 4:18 pm

I haven’t made these yet so I have a 2 part question: would soaking cranberries in place of the dates still work? Also, how would this affect the nutrition benefits ie. glycogen stores, potassium & iron?

I’m not a big fan of dates so really I would be looking for a substitute…

Comment by Renate — June 26, 2012 @ 6:03 pm

I do not like dates can another fruit be used

Comment by Jacky — June 26, 2012 @ 6:33 pm

Substitute nuts with cereals, granola or whole grains to help stick it all together. Soy nuts can be used to add crunch. (: The great thing about bars is it’s up to you to add what you want to make the taste and texture!

Comment by dee — June 26, 2012 @ 8:00 pm

Love this! The cream in the caramel is a no-no for me and I love the taste. Cannot wait to try this recipe and vary the kinds of nuts used to create it.

Comment by erin @WELLinLA — June 27, 2012 @ 9:26 am

I’ve always loved caramel, but since I can’t do dairy as an adult, it’s been out of my diet for years. Excited to try these with a variety of nuts, as the base for it seems perfect for changing/adding various ingredients.

Comment by erin @WELLinLA — June 27, 2012 @ 9:27 am

Hi Everyone!
Thanks for the great feedback!
For a nut allergy, try substituting a seed for the cashews. Raw sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds work great!
For those who don’t have a nut allergy and looking for a cashew substitution, almonds or pinenuts would work.
For another fruit, try dried apricots.
You could subsitute any dried fruit, like cranberries (as mentioned in the question above), but be aware that the flavor of the bars will take on the flavor of the fruit. Dates have a more mild flavor, so you will lose that caramel like flavor if you use another fruit. You will not be losing the nutritional benefits by substituting another fruit. Each fruit will differ slightly with different quantities of vitamins and minerals, but you will be fueling your body well with whatever fruit you chose.
I encourage you to experiment in your kitchen and let us know how it goes!

Comment by Kate — June 27, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

Great idea. Can’t wait to try it.

For those into “raw” foods, lower the temperature to 118 or below and increase the time (best done with a dehydrator). Preserves more nutrition (enzymes, etc).

The taste would be different, but bananas could be substituted for dates. More drying time would be needed, or add ground flax seeds.

Ground flax seeds could be substituted for cashews, but the sunflower seeds suggested above combined with ground flax seeds would be better. A bit of coconut oil could also be used to make up some of the creaminess that comes from cashews.

Flax seeds can be ground in coffee grinder or mini food processor.

Comment by Derick — June 27, 2012 @ 9:32 pm

I am Paleo so I left out the Chia seeds and they came out great! Shared these with all my Paleo friends too as we are always looking for yummy treats since we are a little limited especially when it comes to bars. Thank you!

Comment by Cheryl — June 29, 2012 @ 7:35 pm

Oh, WOW. These are phenomenal. Thank you for crafting and passing on this gem of a recipe, Kate! They really do taste like gorgeous caramel. I’ve just made them with almonds and have a new favourite. All the very best for your training and thank you for helping me with mine! X

Comment by emmalemon — June 30, 2012 @ 1:46 am

making these for “desert” tonite!

Comment by desi — July 1, 2012 @ 1:27 pm

dessert, rather. oy

Comment by desi — July 1, 2012 @ 1:29 pm

I love this idea! I made them today for a road trip. I made 15 bars, but I think they were still a little big, so we will have to see. I think I’ll add some various butters, coconut shreads( unsweetened) even some cocoa nibs next batch. Another modification is to mix the dates and half the cashews into the paste, then add the rest of the cashews chopped up to add some crunch. Brown rice puffs are a possibility too!! I’m happy to see natural foods for training!

Comment by Claire — July 2, 2012 @ 1:42 pm

Had these after a 45 mile bike ride in the 100 degree Chicago heat on the 4th. AMAZING! Making them myself now. Thanks for the recipe – it’s a keeper.

Comment by Nicole — July 6, 2012 @ 11:59 am

Thanks to Nicole! (the post above mine) I was the one who made those bars for the said 45 mile 100 degree bike ride and they were gone very quickly. Even in the heat, they were a great recovery food. I’m on my 4th batch, people just seem to devour these, and they are soooo yummy. Thank you for a new healthy staple for my friends and me!

Comment by Julie — August 21, 2012 @ 1:21 pm

I am vegan and gluten free. I eat a fair amount of raw. It’s great to see a bar that is all plant based. I have a bunch of soaked cashews, can I use them? I do prefer to use my dehydrator. You mentioned using a dehydrator at 118 degrees. How long do you suggest heating them?

Comment by peaceweaver — September 8, 2012 @ 6:33 pm

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