I love that you can lay out the ingredients for this recipe and recognize every single one of them as an actual food! Nothing from a can, jar or plastic bag. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? The inspiration behind this delicious bar comes from “LARABAR,” a company that makes delicious, whole-food bars with no mysterious ingredients, preservatives or extra sweeteners. They are truly a great product, but unfortunately also quite spendy – I just can’t justify paying over a dollar per 1.5-ounce bar on a regular basis. So below I am sharing a recipe that will yield a 9×9 pan of chewy, delicious and filling bars reminiscent of apple pie.
What’s great about the ingredients in these bars, besides that they are whole and unprocessed, is that the lineup includes almonds and walnuts – two nutrient-rich foods our kids don’t usually eat, right? But put them in a bar, and the story has changed! Both contain high amounts healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals – but walnuts are also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fat that our bodies must get from food (rather than being able to make it on our own, which is the case for many other fats and nutrients). Maybe you’re not surprised that I pointed out the health benefits of walnuts and almonds, but did you know what an amazing food dates are? The list of vitamins, minerals amino acids, fatty acids and other elements is far too long to list. Furthermore, many of these nutrients are not found in other common fruits such as apples and bananas. What really impressed me when reading this abstract, is that dates also contain selenium, an element important for immune function and possibly in the prevention of cancer. This stood out to me because I remember our pediatrician saying once that we should give our kids a multivitamin because “you never know if your kids are getting enough trace elements, like selenium for example.” Wow, as it turns out dates have some special stuff in them!
A few notes on this snack…
- First of all, as I mentioned, these bars are somewhat chewy and therefore may not be suitable for young toddlers, or those who like to stuff everything in their mouth at once. My almost 2-year-old eats them, but I keep an eye on her because of her tendency to shove it all in. A work-around would be to cut bite-sized pieces and give a few at a time.
- These bars admittedly are not on the same cleanliness level of the praiseworthy gummie recipe I posted a few days ago. To help with this, eat them straight from the freezer (they will still be soft), or opt to cut the apples down to 1/2 cup in the recipe below. This will make for a dryer bar, which may help your cleanliness cause, but I prefer the extra apple flavor. Don’t get me wrong – these aren’t a disaster of a mess or anything, just a bit sticky.
- You will need a food processor or blender to make this recipe. Some of you may even have a nut butter option on your juicer or Kitchen Aid stand mixer, which would also work great. I wanted to make sure this recipe would work with a simple blender, so I used my Nutri Ninja Pro, which is similar to a Magic Bullet. The instructions below reflect this. If you have a large and powerful food processor, you could skip the steps and just blend everything up at once!
I think your kids will love these bars, and they are also great for adults who are on the go – or just hungry 🙂