I'm not sure how I missed out on the Lärabar craze when I was vegan, but I recently made amends and tried one for the first time. Unless you can't have nuts, they're super allergy- and intolerance-friendly--which is one of the reasons I bought a box of the mini Lärabars in the first place. Since there's no gluten, soy, egg, etc., in them (unlike the Clif bar brand) everyone in my home can eat these on the go. And dear me, they're good. Unfortunately they're also expensive.
There are a few things I really like about Lärabars: First, they have a very small list of ingredients. All whole foods, all quality ingredients. I like that. They're also nutrient dense, which is really great when you're on the go and can't make a snack at home. I like that, for on the go eating, they're individually packaged and that you can get them in a mini size (100 or so calories each). I like having a handful of the mini bars in my purse for emergency snacking purposes (for the kids and for me).
Sadly, I also don't like the packaging--for at-home snacking, anyway. I don't tend to buy "convenience" foods that are overly packaged. Fine for on the go when you need a shelf-stable option, but not great if you're eating these at home on a daily basis. That's lots of trash. As I mentioned before, they also have a really high unit price. Sure, this is because Lärabars are made with great ingredients. But it still means I can't just buy them for snacks even if I didn't mind the excess trash associated with home Lärabar snacking.
So, a dilemma. Luckily, I have access to the wonderful world that is the internet. I did a quick search for homemade Lärabar recipes and came up with two sources I generally trust for good food: Enlightened Cooking and Chocolate & Zucchini. I went with the ratio of fruit to nuts from Enlightened Cooking and decided to adapt it to my family's snacking needs. Instead of shaping in plastic wrap, I've pressed the fruit and nut mixture into a lightly greased mini muffin tin. Each bite is just about the size of one of the mini Lärabars, so although I haven't done the nutritional calculations I assume it has a similar nutrient profile. At any rate, they're really tasty and kid-friendly; they have no packaging other than the plastic bag I store the entire batch in; and they are significantly more budget-friendly than the storebought variety.
Homemade cranberry-orange Lärabar-esque bites (makes 12)
1 cup whole, pitted medjool dates
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup raw cashew pieces
1/2 cup raw almonds
zest of 1 orange
1 Tbsp fresh-squeezed orange juice
Spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick spray. Set aside.
Pulse the dates and cranberries in your food processor until an almost-smooth paste, scraping the fruit down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Transfer to a medium-sized mixing bowl and set aside. (No need to clean the processor for the next step.) Pulse the nuts until very finely chopped--almost a powder but not quite. Add the nuts and orange zest into the date/cranberry mixture. Mix with your hands until well combined. Divide the mix evenly between 12 mini muffin cups. (Wash your hands.) Place a layer of plastic wrap or waxed paper over the tin, pressing lightly onto the bites so seal out air. Chill for at least a few hours to let set.
Shared at Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays 6/14/11.