have you guys ever tried larabars? at first glance, they’re just another granola bar, but the best thing about them is how simple they are. these bars contain dried fruit and nuts. that’s it. they’re vegan, gluten free, soy free, kosher, and raw.
i’ve always been a big granola bar lover, but i usually gravitate towards cheaper versions like nature valley because the price of varieties like larabar are prohibitive (the cheapest i’ve seen these is $1.29/each). besides, most bars are just claiming to be healthy when they’re really filled will all kinds of sugar and corn syrup and other crap. at that point, i think we’d all rather just eat some girl scout cookies, amiright?
we grabbed a few larabars to try for the first time this past weekend when they were on sale for $1 each. i was really impressed by the ingredient lists (their website says no more than 9 ingredients in any bar, but most of them seem to have only 2-3), and thought they’d be good for snacks this week.
as soon as we got home, we started wondering how easy (and less expensive) it might be to whip some of these up ourselves. a quick google search revealed lots of tutorials from others who had been successful in recreating many of the flavors. i don’t know why i thought it would be difficult, but i was surprised to learn that all you really need to do it make a paste out of the dried fruit, then knead it together with chopped nuts, roll out, and cut into bars!
cherry pie “larabar”
-1 1/4 cup pitted prunes
-1 1/4 cup unsweetened dried cherries
-1 1/2 cup unsalted roasted almonds
makes 12 bars, approx. 175 calories/bar + $0.58/bar
cranberry-almond muffin “larabar” (spin off of blueberry muffin larabar)
-1/2 cup pitted prunes
-1 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
-1/2 cup unsweetened dried apricots
-1 cup unsalted cashews
-1/4 tsp vanilla extract
makes 12 bars, approx. 140 calories/bar + $0.38/bar
peanut butter chocolate chip “larabar”
-1 cup pitted prunes
-1/2 cup unsalted peanuts
-1/4 of a dark chocolate bar (trader joe’s)
-1/4 tsp sea salt
makes 6 bars, approx. 135 calories/bar + $0.32cents/bar
1. first, add your dried fruit to a food processor. you can use either prunes or dates as a base, and then add other dried fruit to create your flavors. (the prunes and/or dates act as a binder). pulse dried fruit in the food processor until a paste forms. you want to still be able to see some chunks of fruit, but no big ones. set paste aside.
2. next, chop up your nuts in the food processor. you want the nuts to be relatively finely chopped but not fully ground into a flour. (here’s where you can add it any other ingredients, like vanilla, or chocolate chips)
3. add nuts to paste mixture and knead on a piece of wax paper or wooden cutting board until fully combined.
4. many tutorials suggest spreading the mixture into a square glass pan to let it set, but i found it difficult to get out of the pan once it was time to cut, so i’d recommend just rolling the mixture out into a rectangle between two pieces of wax paper instead. i rolled mine out into about an 8×8″ piece.
5. refrigerate for about an hour (longer if you want). this will allow them to set up a little bit and make them easier to cut.
6. remove from refrigerator and cut into desired pieces. i read that some people who make their own just roll them up into bite-size balls instead of messing with all the cutting and wrapping. if you cut into rectangles, i would suggest wrapping them in plastic wrap individually. as cute as the parchment paper and little strings are, it was a pain in the you know what. next time i make them, saran wrap it is.
[i’m unsure on the shelf life of these homemade versions, so we’re keeping ours in the fridge. i’ve read that many people make a big batch and freeze some, too]
although it was a little bit of a messy process, i’d definitely recommend trying out some homemade granola bars if they’re something you like to eat. all of the larabar flavors are pretty easy to replicate, and you can even make up your own combos like we did with the cranberry-apricot version. the real bonus of making your own is that they’re so much cheaper. without really trying to find the cheapest possible prices, we just went to trader joe’s and spent about $35 on various ingredients. yesterday, we made 30 bars, and probably only used about 1/3 of what we bought, so it’s already been cost effective. we’re planning to make this a monthly thing and i’m already excited to try recreating some of the other flavors, especially the cappuccino and the chocolate chip cookie dough. let me know if you give these a try or come up with any unique combos!