Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Homemade Lara Bars

I found this Lara Bar recipe here. I love it and so does our almost 10-month-old Jane! They are one of her favorite snack foods and it's perfect for when we're on the go because I just grab one out of the fridge and stick it in my diaper bag.

I didn't always love Lara Bars. In fact, when I first tried one of my mom's about a year ago, I'm pretty sure I gave her a look that said, "you seriously like to eat these?" But now that we're eating more whole foods and have cut out a lot of sugar, I've definitely developed a taste for these and other foods like it.

We love Lara Bars and Clif Bars but they're pretty expensive. I'm so happy we have recipes for both types of granola bars that we love. The Clif Bar recipe is recorded on this website under the recipe tab on the home page. I combined several recipes and made a couple of my own changes by following the ingredients listed on the Clif bar when coming up with that recipe. Lara Bars are pretty much the best kind of granola bar to eat because the only ingredients are fruits and nuts, sometimes with a little added cinnamon and there is no baking involved. And so the recipes are healthy, simple, quick and easy.

The first time I made the Lara Bar, it didn't turn out so great. But there are two reasons why: One, I didn't follow the recipe exactly and two, and most importantly, I didn't know that raw peanuts don't taste good(in my opinion, of course. But I love the roasted ones you buy in the shells), and I also used some dried apple rings that didn't go well with the raw peanuts.

Since my first bad experience, I have stayed closer to the recipe and they have turned out great! I've made single and double batches with no problems. A single batch only makes 2 bars so you'd most likely always want to double it. A food processor is very important for this recipe. I tried it in my high powered blender and it did not go well. For some reason the dried cranberries(that are fruit juice sweetened) would not chop. They would get caught under the blade or along side the jar, no matter how many times I would stop and scoop everything out and try again. So use a food processor. And use whole dates. The chopped ones that are covered in powder are harder and too dry. I will copy and paste the recipe below from the Enlightened Cooking website. Also, if you go to her website she has different variations: chocolate chip cookie, PB&J, cashew cookie dough and more.

Very Cherry Bars- from Enlightened Cooking
1/4 cup chopped dates (roughly chopped whole dates, not pre-chopped)
1/4 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries
1/3 cup whole pecans, almonds or walnuts
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Set out two pieces of plastic wrap for shaping and wrapping the bars. Do this first; you’ll have sticky fingers when you need it.

Place the dates and cherries in a food processor. Pulse until processed to a paste. Transfer paste to a medium bowl (don’t clean processor).

Add the nuts to the processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the nuts, along with the cinnamon, to the bowl with the fruit paste. Use your fingers to knead the nuts into the paste (just keep squishing, it’s fun; brings back memories of play-dough;).

Divide mixture in half. Place each half on each of one of the sheets of plastic wrap. Wrap the plastic around each bar and start squishing into a bar shape form, 3 and 1/2 inches long, 1 inch wide and 3/4-inch thick); press against countertop to flatten bottom side, flattening top side and ends with flat of hand (photo 5) Tightly wrap the plastic around each bar and store in the refrigerator. Makes 2 bars.
Nutrition per Serving (1 bar): Calories 207; Fat 9.4 g (sat .8g, mono 5.2g, poly 3.1g); Protein 3.9g; Cholesterol 0mg; Carbohydrate 24.9g; Sodium 0.4mg. (Note: I did the nutrition analysis using Diet Analysis Plus 7.0.1)


April said...

Thanks E--these look great. Thanks for the link to that site as well. I'll be glad to check out some of her other stuff too!

carrie r. said...

Elisa -- you are a healthy cooking fool!! :) Good for you cutting out sweets and sugars and processed foods to this extent. I am still in the stage of dreaming about replacing white sugar. All the alternatives just seem so expensive, I've yet to buy them and try it. I hope one day to find myself a little further down the path. I think you are such an amazing, dedicated mom for doing this!