Sunday, February 5, 2012

Revisiting the Fruit Bars

Back in May I posted the super simple recipe for Lära Bar knock-offs.  These continue to be a favorite in my house - they are easy to make, they keep well, they are tasty, and they are healthy.  The basic recipe (1/4 cup of dates, 1/4 c of another dried fruit, and 1/3 cup of nuts) has not changed, but I thought I'd share a few ideas and tips (most of which came directly from or were inspired by a friend who also makes them frequently!)

Load 'em up!I add extra ground nuts, or even flax meal (which I just make with an old blade grinder and some flax seed).  I haven't found an upper limit as to how much the bars can take in terms of the nut/seed.  And the stickiest varieties (like anything with apricot) benefit from more of the non-fruit ingredient. 

And Bean refuses most forms of protein and fat these days - except in the form of dairy.  He won't eat nuts.  He won't eat beans (except in the form of falafel, which he gobbles).  My child is living on bread, dried fruit, quesadillas, and granola bars.  With the occasional spaghetti or falafel dinner thrown in.

So loading up his snacky, desserty, treaty bar with fats and protein is a major score.  And he watches me make them.  He knows they're there, and I don't feel I am "tricking" him.  

Vanilla Makes the Blade Go 'Round
I am not quite sure what has changed about the dates I am buying, but they have been stickier lately.  I had already taken to adding vanilla to the bars (per friend's inspiration!), so I now add vanilla right into the food processor while I'm processing the dried fruit.  It incorporates the vanilla, and it helps keep the blades moving.

Run, Fruit Bars!  Run!I haven't yet, but I'm planning to take these on my long runs instead of purchasing any packaged nutrition.

Shape ShifterThese do not have to be even vaguely bar-shaped.  If you want to really simplify them, roll into balls and store them that way, or smash the balls into patties.  I have been making 1" balls - it's an easy size for A-Train to finish.  Also, balls/patties does away with the need for plastic wrap.  Score.

If you want to make them more fun (and allow yourself and/or the kids to play with the food), you can sculpt them by hand or mold them into a cookie cutter.  Just wrap a shapeless blob of bar loosely enough in plastic wrap, then have fun.
I used my hands and a butter knife to shape these into hearts.
I made these with a cookie cutter - place plastic-wrapped fruit blob inside the cookie cutter and smush the blob around until the edges are against the cookie cutter

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