Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Homemade Lara Bars (Cashew Cookie)


If you have never tried a Lara Bar then you are in for a healthy wholesome treat! These bars were created by a woman named Lara Merriken who discovered the idea while hiking one day in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Lara, creator and former owner of Humm Foods, sold her company to General Mills in 2008.







These bars come in many different flavors and are made only from fruit and nut. They are gluten, dairy, and soy free as well as vegan and kosher. You can find these bars in the organic aisle at your grocery store or a health food store. If you are interested in seeing the different flavors of Larabars here is the website http://www.larabar.com/.   I decided to start making these at home since I was spending way too much buying them every time I went to the grocery store.  It's pretty simple and nutritious! Enjoy :)



Most of the flavors of Lara bars are made with dates. Dates have a really great chewy and sticky texture so once they are ground they will hold any ingredient mixed into them very well.



Many of us aren't familiar with dates but here is a brief snapshot of the nutritional value for dates and cashews.

Dates- http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/7348/2

Cashews- http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3095/2



I have tried a few different flavors of this bar and my ultimate favorite is Cashew cookie. After making these I wrapped them in plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator so I can just grab one as I am heading out the door to class. It's easy and convenient. I would say these bars will be gone in two days, that's how tasty they are! General Mills has found a way to preserve this bar with the packaging, I'm not sure of the details, but once I find out I will update this post.



Ingredients:

  • 8 oz seedless/pitted whole dates
  • 1/2 cup whole raw unsalted cashews
*Food processor needed (not sure how a blender will work, but you can try it)





Instructions:


1. Measure out the dates and cashews and set aside.


2. In the food processor, pulse the cashews until it turns to bite size pieces (it should be the size of nut toppings for ice creams). Empty cashews into a big bowl.


3. Pulse dates until there are no chunks left. This will take longer than the cashews but still under 1 minute. Empty dates into the same bowl with the cashews.


4. With your hand or a large spoon (I used my hands) mix the two together until all the nuts have been incorporated. The ball will be stiff.



5. On a piece of plastic wrap, spray with non-stick spray then put the cashew-date ball on the plastic wrap on the side that you sprayed. Flatten to about 11/2 inch thickness with a rolling pin or anything with a flat surface, a book would even work well here.


6. To make the sides look even and cleaned up, take a large chopping knife and use the back side of the knife to press against the side of the cashew-date bar. See pic above.


7. Wrap after shaping into large square and put into refrigerator for about 20 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and cut into desired sizes. You can also make these into balls if you don't want to deal with the knife and plastic wrap. After cutting them, you can now individually wrap them and place them back in the fridge.







19 comments:

  1. Awesome bars! I would love to snack on them. Looks simple and easy to make. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. I made these last night and they came out wonderful! I had searched a ton of larabar recipes but these were perfect and so simple. Great proportions! I have a large food processor but used my mini and the only hassle was how sticky the dates get so I'm happy I ground the cashews first.

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  3. Hi,

    I love Lara bars but didn't know the story behind them. Thanks for sharing. I love the Cashew cookie flavor too in Lara Bars. I was wondering if one could also try apricots and finely chopped raisins along with the dates, otherwise all these bars taste predominantly of dates. I guess the trick is to get the right proportion of fruit to nuts. In India, we tend to combine cashews, raisins and dates along with cardamom and it has a wonderful fragrance. Adding a spice such as cardamom or cinnamon will definitely perk up the flavor.

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  4. I guess I am late in responding to all of your messages, but I am happy the recipe came out well for you Molly and I think cardamom would taste lovely here, I am a cardomom addict! Thanks Mary!

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  5. how much is 8oz? how come you don't just say 1 cup? because it can mean different things? is it one cup packed? thankssss

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  6. Hi Anonymous,

    When you buy the dates in the store they come in ounces, so it's easier to write it that way. Thanks for visiting!

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  7. What'sMimiCooking?October 29, 2010 at 9:02 AM

    @Anonymous, because you're weighing the dates by volume. It might not take 8oz of dates to fill up a measuring cup and then you wouldn't have enough.

    @Ms. Gourmet Express...
    Made some last night and my DH loved them, and he's not as much a fan of larabars as I am. I can't wait to be more adventurous next time. Thanks for the recipe.

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  8. i love cashew cookie bars. Those are the only ones i really like. i have a lot of food allergies and the cashew cookie is a perfect fit for my diet. thanks for the recipe, im going to try making them myself. as for dates, i was born in india and grew up eating natural dates. Dates, to me is healthy Candy made by God!!!

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  9. Thank you so much for posting this! I'm a vegan college student and Larabars cost me $1.69 each! I can't afford to constantly buy them, but I will be using this recipe soon. Thank you!

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  10. i just throw it all in the food processor together and run till it balls up like bread dough. sometimes i add choc covered espresso beans, for that extra quick energy boost!

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  11. help! made these but they just crumble like there's nothing to bind them? even tried the nxt batch with extra dates, but still no joy... what am i doing wrong??

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  12. Hi Anonymous,

    I am not sure what you are doing wrong, what type of dates are you using? What brand? Also what are you using to grind the nuts and dates? If they are too chunky it may not bind as well.

    Let me know how I can help!
    Alica

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  13. Thanks for saving this gluten-free, dairy-free girl lots of money! :) Her husband thanks you too!

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  14. May I ask where you buy your dates and cashews to make this a good value? I just went online to check into ordering some and when I calculated the price per bar, it seems like it's a wash. Of course I'd rather have homemade, but I'm not seeing it as a cost-saving measure at the moment. I'm hoping you have a good source for the ingredients for me! Thanks so much!

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  15. Hi Lynne,

    I buy my dates and cashews from the local farmers market around here which works out to be cheaper for me, but I do believe they are more expensive in the regular grocery store. I haven't made these in so long, so I don't remember the price/lb for each ingredient at the market.

    One benefit to note here is that making this at home is definitely better. Even though Larabar indicates that there are only two ingredients in their bars (dates and cashews) they don't tell you that the packaging is specially formulated with preservatives, I know this just from my experience of working at a CPG company.

    If you are not too concerned with preservatives etc. and looking more for convenience, I say just buy the bars! I hope I was able to offer some help.

    Thanks for visiting!
    Alica

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  16. I made these tonight and they are amazing. Even better than Larabar. Thank you so much for posting these instructions. I got my dates and cashews from Trader Joe and I'm pretty sure it's cheaper than buying individual bars. Plus it's a fun and healthy snack.

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  17. I've made these several times and they are perfect! Super easy. I got my bag of dates at Costco. I believe it was 40z for about $9 and I buy raw cashews in bulk at some of the local health food stores. It's definitely cheaper, plus I like the smaller size than the full bar. So it's great having the ability to cut to my portions. Thanks for sharing!

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  18. I am going to try my foodsaver sealer and see if they will keep.

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  19. Anonymous: There is a difference between 8 oz and 8 fluid oz.
    The fist is a measure of weight, the second is a measure of volume.
    The volume of a cup is 8 fl oz.
    Dates are sold by weight - 8 oz.
    Though they are the same volume (8 fl oz), a cup of mercury would weigh more than a cup of water.

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