Friday, February 7, 2014

RECIPE: LaraBar Bites

About a year ago, well before I did The Whole Life Challenge, I was already trying to look for minimally processed foods to feed my family, and was especially dismayed at the long list of artificial crap in almost all of the supposedly healthy “nutrition” bars we were used to eating. The one brand that didn’t contain a ton of added sugar and other awful ingredients? LaraBar. Honestly, most of the flavors contain a mere four or five ingredients—and virtually none (except those containing chocolate chips, as far as I can tell) has added or refined sugar of any kind.

This is why LaraBars are a perfect grab-and-go snack when you’re doing The Whole Life Challenge. Again, not all of the flavors are completely sugar-free, so they’re not all compliant, but many of them are—including my favorite flavor: Coconut Cream Pie. However, as much as I love LaraBars, the more I thought about how few ingredients there were, the more I wondered if I could just make them myself. So I did a quick online search and behold! There were a ton of websites sharing their recipes. Coming in at the very top of my “Coconut Cream LaraBar Recipe” search was a site called My Whole Food Life. The recipe looked awesome so I decided to give it a try and OMG was I glad that I did. These things were like coconut crack. Almost too good—and, I hate to say it, a billion times better than the store-bought LaraBars. They’re also crazy-easy to make. If you want to check out the recipe, click here. (Note: My Whole Food Life also has recipes for a ton of other LaraBar flavors that I have yet to try, plus plenty of other recipes that are Whole Life Challenge compliant!)

Now, as great as the recipe is, I modify things slightly when I make mine. So, with Melissa of My Whole Food Life’s permission of course, I’m going to share the recipe with my variations, which basically entail making these as bite-sized balls instead of bars and adding a few tablespoons of cacao powder to turn them into a second flavor that’s akin to delicious little brownies. (I also use the almond mulch left over from my HOMEMADEALMOND MILK in place of whole almonds.) These make a great snack or dessert and, placed in small wrappers they could even be passed off as candy. (Did somebody say Valentine’s Day?) My husband and son absolutely love them, and so do I (probably a little too much). Give them a try and let me know what you think.

(printable recipe)
Serves 6
20 pitted dates (15 if you’re using Medjool)
½ cup raw almonds (or ½ cup almond mulch, left over from HOMEMADEALMOND MILK)
½ cup raw cashews
¾ cup shredded unsweetened coconut (plus more for optional coating)
2 tablespoons extra virgin/cold pressed coconut oil
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons raw cacao powder (plus more for optional dusting)

1. Place dates in a food processor and pulse until chopped.
2. Add almonds, cashews and shredded coconut and pulse into a fine meal.
3. Add the coconut oil (it’s fine to leave it solid) and water and mix until a dough forms.
4. Optional (if making the chocolate brownie flavor): Add the cacao powder and mix until well combined.
5. Taking about a tablespoon at a time, use hands to roll dough into bite-sized balls.
6. If desired, roll coconut cream balls in shredded coconut. Or, place a tablespoon or two of cacao powder in a mesh sieve and lightly dust the brownie bites.
7. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (approximately 4 pieces):
COCONUT CREAM: 223 calories; 14 g fat (9 g saturated); 9 mg sodium; 26.6 g carbohydrates; 3.8 g fiber; 19.7 g sugar; 2.9 g protein; 3% calcium; 5% iron
CHOCOLATE BROWNIE: 229 calories; 14.5 g fat (9.3 g saturated); 9 mg sodium; 27.8 g carbohydrates; 4.5 g fiber; 19.7 g sugar; 3.4 g protein; 3% calcium; 6% iron

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