Fruit in it's natural state is the ultimate, perfect grab-and-go food. But it's nice to change things up, no?
That there, my friends, is a raw, vegan, homemade energy bar, not unlike Larabars. The difference is that mine were much cheaper to make.
Larabars are typically $1-$2 apiece. While I think they are definitely worth the money you pay for them (they have only 3 or 4 ingredients, are raw, vegan, and organic, they give you a serving or two of fruit and sometimes nuts, and they are crazy high in fiber and offer a good amount of other nutrients), I do not have that kind of money to buy them and eat them on a regular basis, so I buy them as treats or if we are going to be on a long road trip.
But now that I have made my own and I was successful, I may not buy them even then. I found some recipes here and here, but I really only used them as a guide. I didn't want to get to the point (as I often do) where I find a recipe and go on a crazy hunt for crazy ingredients of which I had never heard (which happens a lot lately.) I wanted to use things I would have in my own kitchen at any time. Bars like this are easy to experiment with in that way, and isn't that what cooking should be anyway?
So basically I find dried fruit and pulse it to form a paste, adding some water to help it along. You still want it to be dry though so that it holds the bar shape easily. For this bar I used dates (Larabars seem to use them as a base in most of their bars) and prunes. Prunes are slightly less expensive, have less sugar, and more fiber and potassium than dates. But dates have an awesome sweet taste- they're like nature's candy. So, I pulse the dried fruits together, and once it is paste-like I throw in other stuff. I used pecans, dark chocolate pieces and cocoa powder for the bar shown.
Sorry for not including actual amounts- like I said, it involved some experimenting to get to the right consistency.
Once I had everything mixed together, I lined a pan with wax paper and dumped the mix in. I cut another piece of wax paper to lay on top and pressed the mix down to even it out and flatten it. Then I put the pan in the fridge to get the soon-to-be bars cold and hard. After a few hours, I pulled it out, and used a sharp knife to cut into it into bars, but I left the wax paper on- both sides. It acts like a wrapping, making the bar portable. I keep the bars stacked in a tupperware container in the fridge where they are easily accessible so one can reach in, grab one and go. They make a good, high energy, high fiber breakfast, or an anytime snack for when you need sustenance but you don't have time for a meal.
Chris and I loved them, and a friend who had one seemed to enjoy his as well. Since they were a hit, they didn't last long. But that's ok, that just means I can experiment with different flavors. Chris suggested apricots for a future trial- sounds good to me!
Apparently you can buy date paste ready-made, but I haven't found it in any grocery stores yet. I checked Giant and Trader Joe's. I read somewhere that it can be found in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Stores, but here in Phoenixville, I doubt there are many of those. So for now, I will be making my own paste.
Do you like to have grab-and-go food on hand? Do you buy it, or make your own?