Since I don’t eat any dairy or refined/artificial sugar products (both give me terrible migraines and make me feel ill), I can’t eat much in the way of prepared baked goods, desserts or snacks. My naturopath recommended I try Lara Bars. They aren’t bad, but I don’t like most of the flavours and they are expensive. I tried a few recipes I found on various websites, but they didn’t work out – mostly because I am lazy and didn’t want to spend a lot of time making them. Some of them just tasted nasty – no sugar, no dairy, no fun.
However, I eventually did find a recipe on enlightened cooking, which I have adapted to a make a bar that is pretty tasty. Plus it is quick – about 10 minutes prep and 15-20 minutes to bake. The only equipment you need is a food processor, a square pan and parchment paper or foil.
1 cup almonds (with skins)
1/2 cup apricots
1/2 cup dates
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds (unsalted)
1/4 raw sunflower seeds (unsalted)
1/4 cup cacao nibs
2-3 tbsp apple juice or water
1 -2 tsp maple syrup (optional)
Start by grinding the almonds in the food processor until they pieces are relatively the same size. Add dates/apricots/raisins and grind with almonds, then add the seeds and the cacao nibs. Add apple juice/water and/or maple syrup. Mixture should stick together but not be too wet.
Pour the mixture into a cake pan lined with parchment or foil and pat it down, so the top is relatively even. Bake for 15-20 minutes in a 300 degree F oven.
Once the bars are done in the oven, I let them cool completely (otherwise they will fall apart as you cut them up) and cut them up into about 12 -16 bars. I store them in a ziploc bag or a plastic container (if I can find a matching lid which at our house is like winning the lottery).
You can use any dried fruit/seed mixture you wish – the dates help bind everything together but I have made the bars successfully with raisins soaked in hot water for a few minutes (they were as hard as rocks having languished in my cupboard for too long).
I don’t think these are exactly a low-cal snack. According to the original recipe, each bar has 208 calories. The author recommends using an 8×8 cake pan and cutting the final product into 8 squares. Since my bars are much smaller, they will likely have fewer calories. They are certainly more nutritious than potato chips, which is one of the few prepared snack foods I can actually eat. The bars are yummy, so the challenge for me is to only eat only one at a time.