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Homemade Fruit and Nut (Lara) Bars

by Karen Ung
How to make your own gluten free, dairy free, grain free fruit and nut bars!This summer, I developed a whack of food allergies and intolerances, so I’ve been experimenting with gluten free, egg free, and dairy free recipes. After many horrid gluten free cookies and muffins, I decided to try making making homemade Lara Bars (fruit and nut bars) and found a fantastic, easy to follow recipe on Everyday Paleo. You can see the original recipe here.
Yummy and so easy to make!
The great thing about these fruit and nut bars is that they are virtually fool-proof. You don’t cook them, so you can’t over/undercook them. The dates provide just the right sweetness, so you don’t need to reduce or substitute sweeteners. And finally, you don’t need to worry about leavening or obtaining weird gums to stick everything together (gluten free bakers know what I’m talking about).
I have made Everyday Paleo’s Spice Bars numerous times with slight variations and they turn out beautifully every time, in minutes. You can add dried fruit, chia seeds, mini chocolate chips or cocoa nibs, or a combination of the 4 (up to 1/4 cup, but no more than 1 tablespoon of chia seeds). Sarah has other variations available on her blog.

Fruit & Nut Spice Bar Recipe
(from EverydayPaleo, my modifications in italics)

1 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup roasted cashews
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
20 Medjool (pitted) dates / 25-30 Sayer (pitted) dates 
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Optional: Add 1 tablespoon chia seeds and 1/4 cup dried cranberries / mini chocolate chips / cocoa nibs
Instructions (modified from EverydayPaleo)
  1. Place nuts, sea salt, dates, and pumpkin pie spice in your chopper / food processor. Pulse until the nuts are finely chopped but still chunky.
  2. Dump mixture onto parchment / wax paper. Mix in any additions (seeds, fruit, chocolate, cocoa nibs) by hand.
  3. Shape mixture into a ball. If your mixture is too sticky, put everything back in the food processor/chopper and add more nuts, or roll the bars in almond flour when they are done.
  4. Place another piece of parchment / wax paper on top of the “dough” and roll out about 1/2″ thick.
  5. Cut into bars with a knife or pizza cutter. (pizza cutter works best!)

Money Saving Tip

If you can’t bear to spend $10 on a tub of Medjool dates, buy Sayer pitted dates for half the price. They are a bit smaller, so you will need to use more, but they work great! Be sure to soak your dates in 1-2 tablespoons of hot water ahead of time if they are quite dry. Otherwise, you are good to go. If you accidentally add too much water and your mixture is too sticky, add more nuts to the mixture, or roll the bars in almond flour when they are done.

Try them out and let me know how you like them! 

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