Friday, July 6, 2012

Homemade Lara Bars

If you've never tried a Lara Bar, then you don't know what you are missing!  We first discovered these tasty treats at the health food store.  My kids gobbled them up like they were candy bars and I was happy because the bars contained less than 5 ingredients - in fact, some bars only had 2 ingredients!  Which got me thinking, "These can't be hard to make at home".  And I was right.  They are incredibly easy to make and while I have not done the exact math to figure out a cost comparison, I know that I'm saving a wad of cash.  Lara Bars cost anywhere from $1-2 a piece!  Doing some rough estimates in my head, I can make a batch (12-16 bars) for $5-6, which seems like a good deal to me, especially since the bars only take about 3 minutes to make. 

There are several different varieties of Lara Bars and I think they lend themselves nicely to experimentation.  Basically, you need a mixture of dates and nuts (or nut butter).  From that base, you can try adding all sorts of different ingredients, like dried fruit, chocolate, flax seed, etc.

My kids LOVE this recipe that I make.  It's their absolute favorite snack.  I love them because they are filling, travel well and are easy to make... and I like knowing exactly what they are snacking on. 

Peanut Butter and Jelly Lara Bars (a.k.a. "Power Bars/Balls")

- 2 cups of Dates (remove pits if needed)
-1/2 cup of raisins
-4 tbsp of smooth peanut butter
-3/4 cup rolled oats (not quick cooking)

*I also add a scoop of protien powder, 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed and 2-3 tbsp of cocoa powder, but this is completely optional. 

Ingredients prepped and ready... I forgot to set out the cocoa powder!

1.  Add all the ingredients to a food processor.  Process until the mixture comes together and forms a ball that chases itself around the food processor bowl, like the photo below.  If the mixture seems too dry, add a few more dates or a bit of peanut butter.  If it seems too sticky, add some oatmeal. 

Mixture is ready... forgot to add cocoa powder, so I added some and processed a bit longer

2.  Remove mixture from food processor bowl.  Decide how you want to prepare the bars/balls.  You can place the mixture between 2 sheets of wax paper and roll it out, then cut into bars.  Or you could do it the easy way, like me.  Simply roll the mixture into golf ball sized balls.  This recipe makes about 12-16 bars/balls, depending on how big you make them.  I usually store them in the fridge, but I really don't think it's needed.  If you make them into bars, you could individually wrap them in wax paper or plastic wrap and store them in the pantry in an air-tight container.  If you're like us, these bars are never around long enough to go bad!

The finished product - admittedly not much to look at , but they taste great!

-I really think you NEED a food processor to make these.  I've never tried making them in a blender or anything like that.  Use this as your excuse to go out and buy a food processor! 
-Play around with different combinations.  I don't think it's possible to mess up.  Try dates, cashews,  dried cherries and cocoa powder for Chocolate Cherry bars.  Dates and peanuts make Peanut Butter bars.  Experiment!
-Dates can be hard to find.  Costco has good deals on them, but don't always have them in stock.  If you live in West Michigan, Smart Choice Market in Byron Center has bulk food bins and you can purchase dates there, along with all the other ingredients you would need.  They have a huge variety of nuts, seeds, grains, flours, dried fruit, etc.   

1 comment:

  1. Lara/Lori Bars work with a blender but it better be a very good one. We have a Ninja 1000 watts blender, and it struggled toward the end. The mixture doesn't roll around like Lori talks about but gets stuffed down to the bottom (which I believe is what blenders are supposed to do). However, pull it out with a spatula and they taste fine! We found that refrigerating them overnight lets the taste blend together more.