Monday, May 16, 2011

Homemade Banana Bread Larabars

 Have you ever had a Larabar before?
 Larabars are a healthy, natural fruit and nut energy bar that are vegan, gluten-free, kosher, and raw (most varieties). They come in many different flavours, but all of them have a date base with some type of nut (usually almonds or cashews). Most of them only have 3-5 ingredients and they contain no artificial ingredients, fillers, preservatives, or added sugars. They are super delicious and are a great source of sustainable energy! You can find them in the "health food" or protein bar section of most grocery stores. 

Unfortunately, they can be a tad on the expensive side.. so I decided to make my own homemade Larabars! They are really fast and easy to make, and you don't need a bunch of fancy ingredients to make them. Plus you can get creative and customize them to create whatever flavour you want! The fact that they are easier on the wallet make them taste even better than the real thing :). These bars are awesome for on-the-go snacking, kid's lunches, and as a pre-workout snack that is light and won't weigh you down. I hope you try them! Each bar provides an amazing natural boost of energy and tons of protein and healthy fats from the nuts, and it is a great natural source of potassium and a high source of fibre (from the dates and banana). For more info on the amazing health benefits of dates, check out this article.


Banana Bread Larabar Ingredients:

1/4 cup Medjool dates, chopped (about 4-5 dates)
1/4 cup dried banana slices
1/3 cup raw almonds and cashews (I used a mixture of both nuts to make 1/3 cup but if you only have almonds or only cashews then you can just use those)
pinch of cinnamon

Directions:

First you need to dry your banana - this is the most tedious part of this recipe I promise! If you don't want to dehydrate your own banana slices you could go with the store bought variety instead.. just make sure they are all natural and have no added sugars! Slice 1 small-med. banana. Use very ripe, brown bananas for extra flavour. Evenly lay the banana on a baking sheet that has been covered with parchment paper. Cook the banana in a 175 degrees F oven for approx. 3 hours, or until they are dry. They may seem like they aren't crispy enough at this point, but once you take them out of the oven they will harden up more as they cool. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet. 


Set out 2 pieces of plastic wrap to transfer your bars onto. Do this first because you'll have sticky fingers if you try to do it later! Roughly chop your 1/4 cup dates and discard the pits. Add the dates and dried banana into a food processor. Process for 1-2 minutes until it forms a "paste." Remove the paste from the processor bowl and set aside in a small bowl. Add 1/3 cup raw almond/cashew mixture into the food processor and process for about 1 min, or until the nuts are very fine chunks. Add the nuts to the date/banana paste and blend well with your hands. You'll have to do some squishing and rolling to get the nuts evenly distributed in the paste. 


Divide the mixture into two halves (or into thirds for a smaller portion). Form each half into a "bar" shape (or whatever shape you'd like) and set each bar on the piece of prepared plastic wrap. Tightly wrap your bar and store in the refrigerator. These will keep well for up to 1 week in the fridge, and they can also be frozen for longer storage.. just make sure you wrap them and also put them in a freezer bag or tupperware container if you're planning to put them in the freezer.


*Recipe from Oh She Glows

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