Clean eating can often be difficult for people because of the convenience factor. It is much easier when you have prepared yourself for lunches, snacks, etc. Being on the run with kids, busy schedules, and work all leave some gaps in the schedule where it would be nice to have a packaged go-to in the car or in your purse. Larabars are a perfect portable snack because there are only a few ingredients: dried fruit, nuts and spices! However, Larabars run for $1.79 per bar at Martin’s. So, there has to be an easy, affordable homemade version. I often make my own version of larabars in the form of little bite-size balls because they are easier to form than bars. However, you can mold them into whatever you want! I am all about using resources; there is no reason to reinvent the wheel. So, I came up with a couple recipes that I haven’t found elsewhere; however, there are tons of recipes you can find on the web. I ran across this blog post that goes through flavor recipes for all the store bought versions. She also does a good job of walking you through the ratios to use to create your own flavor profiles!
For my “Homemade Month,” I decided to make 2 varieties: Espresso Protein Balls and Gingersnap Bars
Espresso Protein Balls were my creation to balance some of the carbohydrate ratios that are normally present in dried fruit. Therefore, I used protein powder in them, and this makes them a great snack for a Crossfitter or active athlete that has protein needs for their lifting.
Espresso Protein Balls
10 Medjool dates, pitted
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used Down to Earth brand that has 19g of protein per scoop)
2 handfuls of raw cashews
3 tsp coffee grounds
2 tsp water (if your mixture isn’t sticking together well enough)
Put all the ingredients in the food processor until well crumbled. It is ready to form when you can grab and squeeze the mixture and have it stick together! That’s it. This recipe made 10 protein balls and cost me about $5.50. If I formed bars, it would’ve made about 4 bars, meaning about $1.38 per bar. Obviously this is less than the store price of $1.79, although not much. The reason for this is because I used protein powder….the total cost would be almost $1.50 less if that portion was left out. Not bad.
8 Medjool dates, pitted
1/2 a little bag of crystallized ginger, finely diced (I used Melissa’s brand…no sulfur dioxide in there!)
1/4tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
2 handfuls of pecans
Put all the ingredients except the crystallized ginger in the food processor and process until it sticks together. Form into bars by pressing into the bottom of a covered pan. Press the mixture into the pan and press the finely diced ginger into the top of the larabars. This recipe was inspired by my favorite gluten-free cookie by Liz Lovely…ginger molasses. However, they are made from rice flour and have some sugar added, as well. Therefore these make the perfect substitution!
The gingersnap bars made 4 bars, and they cost me about $1.75 per bar. This is still 4 cents less than the store bought version. However, once again, I chose a flavor profile that had a unique, expensive ingredient: crystallized ginger. Just like the protein balls, that increased the overall cost by about $1.50. I also happened to have most of the spices on hand from fall pumpkin creations. By all means, use whatever you have sitting around as opposed to spending a fortune on spices that you won’t use otherwise!
If I were to make simpler flavor profiles like “Cinnamon Buns” which have nothing more than dates, pecans, and cinnamon, the cost effectiveness goes way up! On average, you are probably looking at about $1 a bar with the simpler flavors that you can find at the above link. Depending on the nuts you use, you can manipulate the cost; buy the nuts that are on sale!
Now for the whole rating system: 5 stars being the best
Taste: 5 stars (you are driving this train, so make your favorites!)
Cost effectiveness: 5 stars (you can save quite a bit or make exotic flavors for about the same as store bought prices)
Worth the effort: 2 stars (I don’t eat many larabars…they may be something I grab when going on a road trip, so I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to make them at home since it’s not something I consume regularly. If you have kids though, this could absolutely be a way to have them make their own creations that they can have as treats in their lunch box!)
Ease: 5 stars (doesn’t get easier than throwing everything in a food processor and forming it into balls)