On-The-Go Bars

Posted by on Sep 14, 2012 in Dessert, grain-free, Paleo, Snacks, Vegetarian | 43 comments

On-The-Go Bars

Embracing the Paleo way of life means your food on-the-go options diminish a little. Okay, a lot.  Suddenly, leaving the house takes more planning because most portable food items are off the table. Those of us who value our health are okay with this of course, because we know that most portable food items on the grocery store shelves are not actually food. But still, I’m willing to bet that every label reader out there has found themselves hangry at an inopportune time and wished that there were more options. The Lärabar has been a go-to food bar for many, due to their simplicity (only a handful of ingredients) and their lack of soy, corn, dairy, and gluten. Dried fruit and nuts, essentially, they are a great option for those days that planning didn’t happen and you know you’ll be hungry before you have time to get a real meal in front of you.

Well. That was before General Mills bought Lärabar, which did three things:

  1. Allowed Lära to retire on a sunny island (I’m only guessing)
  2. Included Lärabar in the list of companies that opposes GMO labeling (more on that here)
  3. Force us conscientious consumers to make our own bars, because we’ll be damned if we support a company who, like eeeeevil Monsanto, thinks we have no right no know that we’re eating Frankenfood.

We vote with our dollars, folks, and if we buy Lärabars or anything else made by the companies that oppose GMO labeling, we essentially oppose it as well.

The good news is this: bars of the Lära variety are insanely simple to make. Bonus: making them is a whole lot cheaper than buying them. Extra bonus: there is virtually no end to the flavor combinations you can create.

Just how simple are they to make, you ask? Check it out: equal parts nuts and dried fruit. BAM. That’s it. Here are some examples:

Double Chocolate Brownie:
1 C almonds + 1 C pitted dates + 1/4 C shredded coconut + 1/4 C chocolate chips* + 2 T cocoa powder

Coconut Pecan Cookie:
1 C pecans + 1 C pitted dates + 1 C shredded coconut + dash cinnamon

Almond Apricot:
1 C almonds + 1/2 C pitted dates + 1/2 C apricot

Chocolate Cherry:
1/2 C cashews + 1/2 C almonds + 1/2 C dates + 1/2 C dried cherries + 1/4 C chocolate chips*

Trail Mix:
1/3 C each almonds, cashews & pecans + 1 C pitted dates + 1/4 C pumpkin seeds* + 1/4 C raisins* + 1/3 C flaked coconut*

The possibilites are practically endless, so feel free to make these babies your own. Add some citrus zest, cinnamon, bacon… Bacon! Next time…

The technique:

  1. Throw it all in a food processor (except for ingredients with an * or anything you want to remain chunky- mix those in after), and kick that baby on.
  2. Process until it’s as fine as you can get it. Add a tablespoon of water if it doesn’t start to clump together on it’s own.
  3. Mix in any additional chunky ingredients, such as chocolate chips.
  4. Press into an 8×8 pyrex dish, lined with parchment paper for easy removing.
  5. Refrigerate for an hour or so before you cut them into rectangles or squares, or you know what? Any shape you want, because these are your bars, damnit! You can also make them round and tell your kids they’re cookies. I won’t tell.
  6. Wrap in parchment paper and store in the fridge, until you grab one to go.

Once the mixture starts to clump together, they’re the right consistency.

Press into a parchment lined pan with an overhang for easy removal

Whether you make these or not, if you live in California, please vote YES on Prop 37!

paleo on the go bars

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  1. I love this!!! I am totally going to make them – for me. Let the kids eat an apple.

  2. I have made a similar bar with dried figs and almonds–YUM. But these are on my list next. THANKS! I like to have something like this around when I get home from work and need to eat something before I begin dinner.

    I have bought Larabars before, but since General Mills owns them now–never again. In fact, I will be emailing General Mills and telling them why I won’t be buying Larabars or anything else General Mills flogs to the sheeple.

  3. About to make my first batch! Bought a bunch of dates the other day and was trying to remember why I had to buy them… then I remembered this post. Thank you so much!!

  4. Amen, this is great. And everyone in CALIF, please vote YES on Prop 37 which would require the labeling of GMO foods. Tell everyone you know, because Monsanto and Dupont and others are throwing more than $50M at trying to defeat this. This bill has been attempted 18 times in different states and has never gotten as far as it has this time. Almost 50 other countries already require this labeling (so the food manufacturers are already labeling there, they just don’t want to do it for YOU). You have a right to know what you are eating and feeding to your children.

    • I agree we should know, but do you realize probably all our fruits and vegetables have been genetically modified? Seedless watermelon, cucumbers and oranges? A result of genetic modification.

      • To an extent, but there is a difference between hybridization and genetic modification. The modern GM practices are more about creating produce with built in pesticides, and one giant corporation controlling all of our food. A cucumber with no seeds doesn’t do the same thing to our digestive system as a cucumber with built in pesticides, at least that’s my understanding of it. I feel pretty good about the produce I get from the farmers market.

  5. Mmm, these sound great! I worry that if I make my own I will end up eating the equivalent of 10 bars in one sitting because they are SO good! :)

  6. Just found your site via Whole Life Challenge and a poster who linked to this post. Super psyched for another paleo-friendly blog to check out, and even more appreciative of the Lara bar update (although sad, since it’s a hometown product here in CO), and excited to make the homemade version. My favorite Lara bar has always been the lemon bar or key lime. I’m sure I could just put some lemon or lime zest in them, but if anyone has a fool-proof version, I’d love to see it!

    • I’m glad you found me!

      It is sad about Lärabar, I agree. I don’t have a fool-proof recipe (yet) for the lemon or key lime flavors, but have made a similar bar to these that had orange zest in them, and the flavor really came through. I would guess that cashews or almonds + dates + lemon or lime zest and a little juice would do the trick. Let me know if you try it before I do!

  7. YUM! I made the choc chip ones the other day, and even the fussy kids liked them. Unfortunately I can’t send themm to school in their lunchboxes as there’s pretty much a total nut ban in all schools here in Australia. I used blanched almonds, but I’m going to try our home-roasted ones next time.

    • Hi Meg,
      Fellow Aussie here. I just made a batch using sunflower seeds in place of the nuts, and it worked a treat! Our school isn’t nut free, but I like to avoid the when I can because its only a matter of time!

  8. Just popped a batch of cashew, pecan, date, and cherry with a scoop of chocolate protein powder in the fridge. I do have a question; the only dried fruit I’m finding in our area is crazy in the amount of sugar it has. Any brands with lower amounts that I can try to seek out?

    • Jessica: I’m sorry I’m just replying to this comment. I didn’t see it until now! I think dried fruit naturally has a high sugar content, because it’s concentrated, essentially. Look for dried fruit with no added sugar for sure… I think the amount of sugar has to do with the type of fruit. I don’t recommend eating dried fruit by the bagful, but think it’s OK in moderation, or in a snack like this that has a good amount of fat and protein.

  9. Great for Summer hiking and backpacking. Thanks for sharing

    • You’re welcome!

  10. I love this and am going to share it! Thanks for the great post!

    • So glad :) Thanks for sharing!

  11. Put in chia seeds as well. So yummy. Thank you!!!!!!

    • Ooooh good idea! Glad you like them :)

  12. just put 2 c macadamina nuts, 1 c almonds, 1 c dried pineapple, 1 c dried mango, 1 1/2 c dried cranberries, 1/4 c cocomut about 1/2 c chocolate chips………boy does it smell so good!!! Can not wait to try this..

    Thanks so much for sharing this!!!!

    • Anyone calculate calories on a bar? I would be interested to know.

      • I have no idea, but considering they’re the same ingredients as Larabar, they should be about the same, assuming you cut them the same size. HERE is the nutritional info for cashew cookie

  13. I didn’t have any dates, so I used prunes, along with almonds, hazelnuts, cocoa powder and coconut (mixed in after). They came out fabulous. Prunes are nearly as sticky as dates, a whole lot less expensive, and lower in carbs, in case that’s a concern.

    • Great idea! That’s what I love about this recipe; you can make it so many ways. Good to know about prunes being lower carb. I’ll definitely try them next time, as dates can be overwhelmingly sweet to me.

  14. I used to make something like this, different every time, using whatever combinations I had to hand. Adding some melted cocoa butter gives a bit more structure to the bars (and tastes great), and adding lemon or orange oil is good for that citrus kick. I have less time than I used to, and have begun chowing down on Lara bars instead (either that or just making my own loose fruit/nut mix), but didnt realize they’d been sold – looks like I might have to break out the food processor again…

  15. These all looked so good I went nuts and made three different batches last night. However, mine didn’t seem to stick together very well. I added a little bit of water, which helped, but they seem like they we ready to start falling apart as I carefully cut and wrapped them individually in parchment. Is there a trick to this? Maybe I didn’t use enough of the dried fruit. I am not much of a cook yet, so please forgive my ignorance…is a cup of dates measured by filling a 1 cup measure with dates? Haha., i hope so!

    • Let me add that I don’t have a food processor, so I used my Ninja food chopper. It was a slow process because the Ninja kept overheating! Maybe I did not chop the ingredients fine enough? Thanks for any suggestions. I am afraid the best one will be that I should buy a food processor!

    • The ingredients do need to be chopped really finely, almost pureed, to stick together. The stickiness of the dates / dried fruit should be enough to do it. And yes, a one cup measuring cup is a cup of dates :) not an ignorant question at all, asking questions is how you get better at something! If you are amping up your kitchen skills (and arsenal), I do have to recommend a food processor. You’ll use it a lot, and it will save you lots of time with prep. My favorite one is the basic Cuisinart Model

      Happy Cooking!

  16. anyone know if I can make these using my dry blender on my vitamix?

  17. Hey Guys, Did you all know that Joel Salatin is against mandated GMO labelling…? Go have a look at his view on this and why he holds them, you can’t just say because someone is against GMO labelling they are pro GMO’s

    • At the risk of sounding like an a-hole, I don’t actually care if Joel Salatin is against GMO labeling. I’m FOR it. I understand the reasons for and against, and have come to a conclusion that feels right for me. Therefore, I have zero interest in giving my money to a company that spends millions of dollars to fight GMO labeling. Also, I’m willing to bet that the companies are not only anti-labeling, but are also pro-GMO. They’re in the making money business, not the feeding people healthy food business. Just my .02

  18. Recipe looks nice by the way, thanks for that! It is still good to have a cheaper alternative :)

  19. I’ve been wanting to make homemade Larabars as gifts and am glad that our mutual friend Liz Garcia told me about your site so I could get inspired!

    • Hi Lynn! I’m so glad you commented here. I saw Liz’s intro on IG, but then it got buried and I couldn’t find it. Nice to meet you!

  20. How do you deal with them being so sticky! We love making these, but usually make them into balls and coat them in unsweetened coconut flakes. I’d like to make them into bars instead.

  21. These look wonderful. I want to try them, but it’s just my husband and me at home now and I don’t know if how quickly we will eat them up. How long can they stay in the frig and still be good?

    • I think they’d be okay in the fridge for at least a week!

      • I should have asked this before. How long are they okay to be out of the frig? As in on a road trip, etc.?

      • They’re just dried fruit and nuts, so they should be fine! They get a little softer out of the fridge, but there’s nothing in them that would necessarily make them spoil.

  22. I just made this today and it is super delicious. My family loves it!! But how come it is kind of soft? Can I put it into the oven and bake it so it will harden a bit?

    • I don’t think they’d bake very well, they’re meant to be raw. You might just have to adjust the fruit : nut ratio if your dried fruit has a lot of moisture in it! Hope that helps :)

  23. Thank you Zenbelly for another great post! I love your humor and political zeal, and of course your recipes. Thank you for educating me on the Larabar change. I will avoid them now. Keep up all your great work! You are one of the most talented, fun and witty food bloggers in the paleosphere!


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