In our household I am the one known for snacking (I can make a meal out of chocolate bars and popcorn). My husband is more of sit down and eat a meal kind of guy. But every now and then even he needs a quick snack and I like to have something decently nutritious around for the mornings when Zenie and I have to have a breakfast on the go. I grew up on pop-tarts and the S’more flavor is still near to my heart, but trying to find something a little healthier we recently came across Lara Bars. These are a bit lighter in texture than the famous Cliff Bar and come in a bunch of flavors. While I love all things chocolate, the blueberry muffin bar has become the family favorite. The downside to these tasty treats is that they are priced at 4 for $5, which is a little steep for a snack on our budget. After buying these regularly for a few months I decided there must be an alternative.
I found a blog called Perry’s Plate. This girl is amazing, I say this mainly because nearly all of her cooking is Paleo (that means no refined grains or sugars), and her photography and actual recipes are great too. Now I am not anywhere near giving up my white flour or sugar, but I admire it when others can cook well this way and I recommend this blog as a great resource. This recipe is directly from her site and I am grateful for it. Though I wouldn’t say it makes an exactly identical bar it is very similar to the actual Lara Bar and to me tastes just a little bit better. They still aren’t cheap but mainly because this recipe uses hearty ingredients like nuts, dates and blueberries (if you have a place where you can pick your own blueberries I am jealous and this is a great recipe for using dehydrated ones).
So here it goes:
1. Gather your ingredients: dates, raw cashews, raw walnuts, dried blueberries, vanilla and a drop of lemon essential oil, or 1/4 tsp of lemon extract or 1 tsp of lemon zest. Pretty simple.
2. Dig out the food processor and get started. First add both types of nuts and pulse until chopped. Then add the dates, vanilla and lemon (I accidentally put two drops of lemon in mine rather than one, still good, but they are a bit on the lemony side). Mix these well until dates are chopped. Then add the blueberries, pulse these a few times to make sure they are mixed.
3. Now you are ready to form them into shapes. Pour out your mixture onto a baking sheet and press flat. Or roll into small balls. Really you can make these into any shape you would like, get out your cookie cutter and make dinosaur shaped bars if you are feeling motivated. They will be a bit squishy while you are working with them but will firm up once you chill them in the fridge.
4. Cut into squares.
5. Store them in the fridge. I put mine in an airtight container and lined the layers with parchment to keep them from sticking together.
Blueberry Muffin Lara Bars
12 dates pitted and torn in half
1 cup of raw cashews
1 cup of raw walnuts
1/3 cup of dried blueberries
1 drop of lemon essential oil, or 1/4 tsp of lemon extract or 1 tsp of lemon zest
1/2 tsp of vanilla
1. Place nuts in food processor. Process until finely chopped.
2. Add dates, lemon and vanilla. Process again until chopped and mixed well.
3. Add blueberries. Pulse until mixed.
4. Pour out onto parchment lined baking sheet and press flat.
5. Slice and store in fridge. Should keep for at least a week.
Note: I made these the other day and as I was trying to smash them down and shape them they seemed too crumbly. I realized I hadn’t chopped the nuts or dates fine enough. I put it all back into the food processor and chopped some more. The blue berries got chopped up too but the second time around I was more successful in getting the right texture.