Thursday, March 22, 2012

Homemade Raw Bars

My friend Shannon is way ahead of her time.

When we met our freshman year of college, our small college had a central dining room, where most of us loaded our dinner plates with "woo-hoo-we-can-eat-whatever-we-want-since-mom-is-not-here-to-tell-us-to-eat-our-broccoli" type of food.

Shannon? Her regular dinner was a trip to the salad bar, complete with a healthy greens salad, topped with legumes, peppers, carrots, tomatoes, maybe some lean protein like turkey and a light dressing. Man, she made us look bad. (Love you Shannon.)

When I was pregnant with R, I had started on my healthy food journey, but it was Shannon who was again pioneering away: "Have you thought about making homemade baby food?" she asked, then shared her favorite baby food cookbook.

So it's fitting that it is Shannon who created the original recipe for this blog post, one that the boys and I have made probably close to a dozen times, altering it a wee bit each go 'round.

This recipe is the closest thing I've been able to come up with for a homemade KIND, LARABAR, Clif or other raw bar recipe. If you're a KIND sort of person, then add lots of chunky dried fruit (we love dates, almonds and sesame seeds). If you lean more toward the Clif spectrum of bars, I think you'll love the recipe below.

These bars are dairy-free, soy-free and egg-free. If you need to avoid gluten, just use gluten-free oats and they're gluten-free too (while oats themselves don't contain gluten, many are processed in a facilities that also process wheat).

They're delicious, super-healthful, easy peasy to make and a mere fraction of the cost of regular raw bars they sell in the store. I haven't done the math, but I'd say they are 1/4 the cost of store-bought bars. Join me in saying, "Thanks Shannon!"

(pictured: Chocolate Peanut Butter variation)

Shannon's Basic Raw Bars

2 cups oats (regular or quick)
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup ground flax meal
1/2 cup almonds or walnuts
8 oz dried unsweetened dates
1/4 - 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons honey, maple syrup or agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a food processor, combine the oats, coconut, flax and almonds or walnuts. Pulse until the nuts are the size of coarse sand.

Add the dates to the processor. Pulse several times and then process until the entire mixture is the consistency of coarse sand.

Place in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup applesauce, honey or other sweetener and vanilla. Stir well. Add more applesauce (or alternatively more honey) until it is the consistency of a thick dough.

Spread into a 9x9 dish and refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Cut into bars.

Makes 12 bars.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Raw Bars

Use the Basic Recipe above, but add 1/4 cup peanut butter and 3 tablespoons cocoa powder.

Crazy Date Raw Bars

Use the Basic Recipe above, but add 1/2 cup chopped dates, 1-2 tablespoons sesame seeds and 1/2 cup raw slivered almonds.

We've done a bunch of variations and they have all been quite good, but the one thing you need to note:

**if you use salted nuts, it will draw out extra moisture in the mixture and instead of smooth bars, you will have very tasty crumbles.**

One last thing: if you add some nuts or berries and find you have crumbly "dough" instead of smooth, just add a bit more moisture in the form sweetener, nut butter or applesauce.

Life is sweet,


Laura said...

I need to make these, but I have no dates... thoughts on what I could sub?

Sweet Pea Chef said...

Try raisins, regular or golden. Really, any unsweetened dried fruit, but I haven't tried apricots yet.