Homemade “Lara Bars”
I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge fan of bars (both the edible and venue varieties, just to be clear). Working long hours, I definitely need a pick-me-up in the late afternoon so that I have enough energy to exercise after work and prevent myself from driving straight home and cooking dinner. I’m currently training for my second half marathon, and my go-to afternoon snack as of late has been Lara Bars. I love them because — first of all — the bar names are so appetizing (who doesn’t want Cherry Pie or Peanut Butter Cookie?) but also because they contain only raw ingredients: fruit and nuts. No preservatives. No grains that will leave you feeling tired an hour later. And they’re vegan and gluten-free. I love them so much that the first thing I asked my little brother upon finding out he got a job at General Mills was, “How many free Lara Bars can I get?” Hopefully there will be more to come on that, as he doesn’t start until after graduation in June.
Anyway, I thought to myself, if the ingredients are that simple, why can’t I make my own? And it turns out the answer is: You Can! And the best part is you can be creative and make any flavor combination you like. All you need is a nut or seed base, dates, and any other kind of dried fruit you desire. Chocolate (or other) chips are also an option, as are pastes such as peanut or almond butter, making for endless possibilities! Apricot is one of my favorite dried fruits, and I don’t believe Lara Bar currently makes an apricot flavor (although I could be wrong, they seem to have new flavors all the time). I also had dried cranberries laying around since I use them a lot in salads, so I threw in some of those too. I’m also super picky about nuts, almonds and peanuts are pretty much all I can do…so I went with almonds. They are so simple to make — it takes about 10 minutes tops — and the results were amazing! Lara Bar is going to have some tough competition in my house now that I can make my own.
2 Cups Roasted Almonds
8 Dates, pitted
1 1/4 Cup Dried Apricots
1/4 Cup Cranberries
Place almonds into a food processor or blender fitted with a milling blade (I used my Nutribullet). Use the pulse setting to grind nuts into a crumb-like consistency. (Don’t be afraid of larger chunks, that is perfectly OK). Add the dates, apricots and cranberries and pulse until a sticky paste consistency has been reached. Note: you may need to continually stop and scrape the edges since the mixture is very thick. Remove the mixture from the food processor or blender and pat down flat into a parchment paper-lined 8×8 pan. Refrigerate for at least two hours, and cut into bars.