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Recipe: Whole Wheat Date Bars for Breakfast or On-the-Go

Good Monday morning!

I have a recipe today for breakfast date bars that is amazingly delicious and super healthy. I’ve posted a similar recipe before, date rolls, but I like this one more. They have slightly different ingredients and this one is easier to make. It think it’s also easier to eat–especially for kids.

The nutritional highlight: no sugar (or any other sweetener), made with whole wheat, 100% fruit, spices, and olive oil.

It’s a Middle Eastern recipe I learned from my aunt, it’s called “ma’rootah.” It’s usually not served as breakfast, instead with coffee or tea in the afternoon. But my son kept asking for it saying “cookie…cookie” in the morning and I was comfortable and pleased with giving him this kind of cookie. (isn’t it amazing that he’s not even 2 and he knows how to say cookies, cake, and ice cream???)

Looking for a cereal or energy bar to grab on your way out the door? Wrap one or two. I haven’t done the nutrition analysis for this recipe, but if you want me to, write me a comment and will do it for you.

To the recipe…



  • 3 cups while whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur)
  • 1/4 cup semolina
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp ground fennel
  • 2 tbsp ground anise
  • 1 tbsp anise seeds
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp rose water
  • 1 cup milk, at room temperature (I used 1% milk)

Date Filling:

  • 1.5 package pressed dates (found in Middle Eastern ethnic stores). If you can’t find those, use soft pitted dates and press/knead with your hands.
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Pressed baking dates

Look at the ingredients. No added sugars or preservatives.

To make the dough, mix all dry ingredients (up to the anise seeds) in a medium size bowl. Add the egg and the vanilla and try to incorporate. You might want to use your fingertips to do that.

Add the oil and rose water and continue to incorporate with your fingertips. Pour in the milk and knead until you have a uniform dough ball. Divide in half.

To prepare the filling, place the pressed dates in a microwave-safe bowl. Drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle the cinnamon. Microwave for 30-60 seconds, or until soft. Then knead until all three ingredients are well blended together.

Brush a 9×13 inch baking dish with olive oil. Take one half of the dough and flatten it on your kitchen counter until it’s big enough to cover the dish. Now flatten all of the dates and place on top of the dough. Repeat with the second half of the dough and place on top of the date layer. Use a roller and parchment paper, especially for the dates or else they will stick on your counter.

Cut the bars now. I cut them diagonally but you can do any other size/shape you prefer.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Broil on low for few minutes until golden.

Serve hot, warm, or cold. Yum!

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sajeela September 13, 2010, 1:41 pm

    If you could do the nutritional analysis and calorie count would love to know.

  • emily (a nutritionist eats) September 15, 2010, 5:22 pm

    I am not a huge date fan, but I would think I could sub a different fruit, right? It sounds great! (And I love breakfast cookies!)

  • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD September 16, 2010, 7:26 am

    Emily: you might be able to use a different fruit. I’ve always made with dates though. You want to be able to spread the fruit and I’m not sure how to make a past out of prunes or figs. Try it, and please write me a comment and let me know how it goes.

    Sajeela: here’s the nutrition info:
    For the whole recipe:

    Calories: 4198, total fat: 129 g, saturated fat 18 g, cholesterol 221 mg, sodium 1324 mg, carbs 692 g, fiber 86 g, sugars 390 g, and protein 73 g.
    If you cut it into 20 bars, each bar will have:
    210 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 11 mg cholesterol, 66 mg sodium, 35 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 20 g sugars, and 4 g protein.

  • Amy (Super Healthy Kids) September 16, 2010, 10:48 am

    MMMM, sounds like fig newtons, and I love fig newtons!

    • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD September 24, 2010, 9:35 am

      Ohhh… maybe I should try dried figs next time!

  • Lisa August 11, 2013, 9:01 am

    Just happened across this recipe. Trying to eat a training diet for optimal performance and have a sweet tooth, so this may be perfect for me 🙂 Thanks.

    • Nour Zibdeh August 18, 2013, 10:02 pm

      Thanks Lisa for stopping by and for the comment!