Friday, October 28, 2011

Homemade Larabars Recipe

I was looking for ideas of healthy cookies to make to keep in the freezer for a snack for after birth. And then I was thinking to myself... if I'm already spending more on healthy sweeteners and gluten free flours... maybe its better to just find an alternative sweet treat to satisfy those cravings and give me something to nibble on.
Larabars it was!
Larabars are energy bars made from nuts and dried fruit. They're sold in health food stores for 2 dollars a bar. Even making them at home they can be expensive as nuts are anything but cheap, either here or anywhere else... So I figured out an alternative way to make these using something cheaper than nuts- sunflower seeds!

These bars are high in sugars and protein and fat, but contain only healthy ingredients, making them the ideal food for when you need instant energy, like during labor or after hard physical labor.

I used my bulk bought sunflower seeds and coconut for this, and bought date paste from my local grocery store. Date paste is just dates with the seeds removed, and it worked out to be cheaper than dates per pound, but if regular dates are all that is available or are cheaper, just remove the seeds from the dates and use as is.

Homemade Larabars Recipe

~16 oz date paste/pitted dates
2 cups ground sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup craisins (optional)
1 heaping tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon dried ginger

1. Take your sunflower seeds and grind them in the food processor until they're mostly crumbly. If your coconut is shredded or in flakes (mine comes desiccated, around the size of breadcrumbs), grind them together with your sunflower seeds. If not, add them after.

2. Put the sunflower seed meal into a large bowl. Add the sesame seeds, coconut, craisins, and spices to the sunflower seed meal.

 3. Pop your dates or date paste into the microwave for 30 seconds to soften them. If you don't have a microwave, you can skip this step, but it makes it easier to work with. If using whole dates, stick them in the food processor and chop them until they form a paste.

4. Bit by bit, add the date paste to your seed mixture. This is the glue to hold it together. Work it like you'd work a bread dough, making sure to incorporate all the seeds and that its uniformly mixed. Add enough dates until you get a mass that sticks together well, but isn't too sticky. I used pretty much an entire 16 oz package of date paste and thought I needed more date paste, but once I mixed it some more I was able to manage with just the 16 oz.

5. Lay a large piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper on a flat surface and place approximately 1/4 of your mixture onto the plastic wrap/parchment paper. Put another piece on top, and using your hands, press the Larabar mixture flat until it covers the surface of the parchment paper and is a uniform thickness, approximately the thickness of a granola bar.

6. Remove the top piece and cut your Larabars into bars. Wrap each one in plastic wrap. Store in the fridge or freezer until use.

Yield? Who knows! I got 25 bars out of this... after my kids and I scarfed down about 1/3 of the mixture before we actually had a chance to wrap them and count them. You probably can get 35 or 40 bars out of this mixture.

Variations: You can really use any nuts and seeds for this recipe (but I have a feeling walnuts wouldn't taste so nice). Instead of or in addition to the sesame seeds and coconut, you can also add other seeds like chia seeds, flax seeds, etc. You can leave out the craisins, or replace them with other small pieces of dried fruit or chocolate chips. Instead of the sunflower seeds, you can use pumpkin seeds, almonds, peanuts, cashews, etc... 
You can also change around the spices, or add cocoa powder or other different flavoring options.
The only important thing to know is that any large seeds/nuts should be chopped small, and that you need to add enough date paste to make it stick together. Everything else, you can play around with what you have on hand.

Ever have Larabars? How much do they cost where you live? 
Ever make these at home? What do you put in your Larabars? What is your favorite combination?
Do you have these ingredients in your home? Any chance you'd make something like this? What do you think you'd put into yours?

Linking up to Mangia MondayHomestead Barn HopWeekend GourmetMeatless MondayMelt in Your Mouth MondayMonday Mania

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