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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Homemade Larabars

I love Larabars. I have them on Amazon auto-replenish shipping to send to me monthly, because I eat one every day! But, Larabars can get expensive. I found they're not too difficult to make at home. The nice thing about making them at home is you can experiment with all kinds of nuts and dried fruit, which is both tasty and fun!

Cherry Bars (use as a template for almost any combination)

Here’s what to do for 6 bars. The recipe below is for cherry bars, but I’ve listed some other flavor variations below.

1 cup chopped dates (roughly chopped whole dates, not pre-chopped)
1 cup dried cherries
1 1/3 cup whole pecans, almonds or walnuts

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 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.

Take a brownie pan and wipe the inside with a few drops of water. Cover the inside plastic wrap and work out any air bubbles. This doesn’t need to be perfect either. Add the date/nut mixture to the brownie pan and push into the corners to spread evenly. Place plastic wrap over the top and let sit for 2 hours. Turn out onto a cutting board or back of the brownie pan. Cut into 6 even bars and wrap each one in plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator. Makes 6 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.

A Few Ideas for Variations:

Apricot-Almond: Use 6 tablespoons coarsely chopped dried apricots and 2 tablespoons date (to measure 1/2 cup total); use almonds for the nuts.

Tropical: Use tropical fruit bits (these come pre-packaged at the supermarket); use raw cashews for the nuts. Add 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lime zest, and 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice to the mix.

PB & J (cheap and delicious!): Use 1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries and 1/4 cup raisins or dates; use raw or roasted peanuts (lightly salted or unsalted) for the nuts.

Blueberry Bliss: Use 1/4 cup dried blueberries and 1/4 cup dates; use almonds for the nuts. Add 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, and a drop of almond extract to the mix.

Cashew Cookie Dough: Reverse the proportions of fruit to nuts--Use 1/3 cup dates for the fruit and 1/2 cup raw cashews for the nuts.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough: Same as cashew cookie dough, but add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, pinch of cinnamon and 1/2 ounce very finely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate to the mix.

Pistachio Heaven: Same as cashew cookie dough, but use raw pistachios and add a tiny drop of almond extract.

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough: Same as cashew cookie dough but use raw or roasted (lightly salted) peanuts for the nuts.