Homemade Larabars

I’m always looking for healthy snacks. I had given up on energy bars because, nutritionally, most of them are no better than candy bars when it comes to added fat and added sugar.

Then I discovered Larabars. Larabars are made from whole foods – mostly dried fruits and nuts. Most bars contain three items, dates being the main ingredient, and none of the bars contain more than nine items. My favorite, cherry pie, is made of dates, almonds and dried cherries. That’s it. And while I love to have one of these bars in my purse and work drawer at all times, they can get a little pricey at $1.25-$1.99 a bar.

So when I came across a few recipes for homemade bars, I had to give it a shot. I’m glad I did. These cherry pie bars came together in a snap. The most laborious task was pitting the dates and even that wasn’t too difficult. A few weeks ago, I made almond milk. There’s quite a bit of almond ‘pulp’ left after straining the mixture. I couldn’t bear to throw it away so I kept it hoping to find some use for it. It worked really well in these bars.

Experiment with the dried fruits and nuts for different flavor combinations. I think dates, apricots and almonds would be delicious. Or dates, walnuts and dried apples. I can’t wait to get to work on the next batch.

Vegan. Gluten free. Soy free. Delicious.

Homemade Larabars/Energy bars (Based on Larabar)

1 cup dried, pitted Medjool dates

1 cup raw almonds, toasted (I used 1 cup of almond pulp from homemade almond milk)

1 cup dried cherries

If using whole almonds: To toast the almonds, place them on a baking sheet and bake at 400°F for ten minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer the almonds to a plate to cool.

Place the dates and cherries in a food processor and pulse until a gooey paste forms (Start slowly. The dates are really sticky and may get caught in the blades of the processor. If this happens, stop pulsing, scrape down the sides and continue to pulse ). Transfer the dried fruit into a large bowl.

If using whole almonds: Put the almonds in the processor and pulse until small bits remain. Transfer the almonds to the bowl (or the almond pulp, if using) with the dried fruit. Knead the dried fruit and almonds together until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan, lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil, to about 1/2-inch thickness and refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 minutes. Invert the contents onto a cutting board and slice to desired size.

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