Fruit and Nut Energy Bars

When you cannot count on being able to stop at a convenience store to find a snack, having readily portable snacks that do not spoil so you can always have some on hand becomes very important.  We discovered LaraBars a while ago and fell in love with them because they are yummy, healthy, and convenient.  Unfortunately they are also rather pricey, so I thought I’d try my hand at making my own.  I cannot claim to have started from scratch, I had a lot of help from Test Kitchen Tuesday (here is the link to the original: http://testkitchentuesday.com/2010/12/14/do-it-yourself-lara-bars/).  I have taken our favorite LaraBars and come up with something pretty close to the original and I’ve also invented a few of my own.  I highly recommend experimentation to find what works best for you.

These bars are primarily dates and nuts.  If you want, you can buy whole dates and pit them yourself, but if I can get someone else to do even a smidge of food prep at a reasonable price for me I’ll take that option.  Consequently, I buy the Dole California Whole Pitted Dates.  Do not use the Chopped Dates, they have dextrose which is a forbidden additive in our house due to its corn ancestry.  If you choose to use the whole Medjool dates you may need to fiddle with the ratios a bit to get the right consistency.  LaraBar uses a lot of cashews in their bars, but I don’t really care for the flavor of cashews and they are not particularly healthy compared to walnuts or almonds, so I use a lot more walnuts and almonds in mine.

Procedure:

Add all ingredients (unless otherwise noted) to the blender of your Ninja.  (These may work in a really good food processor, but I have not tried it.)  Blend on the highest speed until desired consistency is reached, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides and corners of the blender.  Finer consistency bars stick together better, but I like the crunch of a nut in mine.  Line a 1 lb loaf bread pan with a large sheet of wax paper and dump the contents of the blender into the pan.  Spread it out so that it covers the bottom of the pan evenly.  Wrap the excess wax paper around the fruit/nut mix and use another 1 lb loaf bread pan to squish everything together.  I usually set this on the floor and step into the pan to apply pressure to the entire brick.  Remove from pan and neatly re-wrap in the wax paper, place the brick in and airtight container (ie a zip storage bag) and then in the refrigerator to chill overnight (this helps the flavors mix.)  Cut the brick into 6 bars and wrap in small pieces of wax paper sealed with scotch tape.  Store in an airtight container at room temp.  If you decide to add any perishable ingredients, store the bars in the refrigerator (but this would kind of defeat the purpose of having and easy grab-n-go snack you can keep stocked in the car).

Ingredients:

Cashew Cookie

140 g dates

100 g cashews

Coconut Cream Pie

160 g dates

20 g unsweetened coconut

75 g unsalted roasted almonds

25 g cashews

10 g coconut oil

Chocolate Coconut Chew

160 g dates

50 g unsalted roasted almonds

50 g walnuts

20 g cocoa powder

20 g unsweetened coconut

Chocolate Chip Cookie

Disclaimer: Not totally grain-free or dairy-free due to the sugar and milk in the chocolate chips

160 g dates

75 g unsalted roasted almonds

25 g cashews

56 g mini chocolate chips (mix these in by hand after blending dates and nuts)

Fig Newton

80 g mission figs, stems removed

50 g dates

50 g unsalted roasted almonds

50 g cashews

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip

160 g dates

50 g unsalted roasted almonds

40 g unsalted roasted peanuts

20 g cocoa powder

40 g unsalted roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped (mix these in by hand after blending dates and nuts)

Blueberry

100 g unsalted roasted almonds

80 g dates

120 g dried blueberries or blueberry flavored Craisins (not grain-free due to sugar content)

Pomegranate

100 g unsalted roasted almonds

80 g dates

120 g pomegranate flavored Craisins (not grain-free due to sugar content)

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