I’ve long wanted make a homemade Larabar, but I really got inspired this week when reading about foods that are excellent sources of digestive enzymes. The key ingredients in Larabars – dates and nuts – are two of those foods. However, dry nuts are rich with enzymes only if soaked and then dehydrated at a low temperature, also called crispy nuts in Sally Fallon Morell’s Nourishing Traditions.
Now I don’t have a Larabar wrapper handy and I’ve searched their website, and I can’t find out if the nuts in the Larabars have been soaked or not. If not, then my homemade bars are much better (and probably cheaper, too), because I do use soaked and dehydrated nuts. The nuts in my Larabars are rich with digestive enzymes, rather than rich with enzyme inhibitors. (Read this post for the why and how of soaking and dehydrating your nuts.)
Recipe notes: Choose organic ingredients whenever possible. Choose unsulphured dried fruits that were dehydrated at low temperatures (115 degrees or less). Choose raw nuts for making your crispy nuts. If you use figs for the “other” dried fruit, you’ll have chosen another enzyme-rich dried fruit! This recipe makes a chocolate bar, but the cocoa powder can be omitted in favor of other flavors.
I’m thankful for the template recipe at Enlightened Cooking, on which my recipe is based.
- 1 cup chopped dates, pitted (do not use date pieces that are coated with oat flour)
- 1 cup other dried fruit or combination of dried fruit (such as raisins, dried cherries, or figs)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- pinch of sea salt
- 1-1/3 cup soaked and dehydrated nuts, such as almonds
- up to 1/3 cup add-ins (such as unsweetened shredded coconut, soaked and dehydrated seeds, chocolate shavings, mini chocolate chips, etc.)
- additional tablespoons of water, if needed
Process dates, dried fruit, cocoa powder and sea salt in food processor until all chopped up. It will be like a thick paste, and perhaps even roll up into a ball. Remove from food processor to a bowl.
Put nuts (and seeds or coconut, if using) in the food processor. Process until a coarse meal.
Break up the fruit paste into chunks and add back to the food processor. Add chocolate shavings or mini chips (if using). Process to incorporate all ingredients. It may roll up into a ball. Press with your finger – does it hold together? If not, add additional water, tablespoon by tablespoon to achieve this.
Press the dough into a stainless steel 8-inch square cake pan. Refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes until hardened sufficiently for easy cutting.
Bring out of refrigerator and cut into bars. I do 18 bars – 6 rows of 3 bars each. Each bar is 1 inch by 2 inches.
Store the pan of bars in the refrigerator, covered tightly so they don’t dry out. Or wrap each bar individually and store in the refrigerator – for an easy grab and go snack!
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