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Gluten-Free & Wheat-Free
The "Laurabar" — Homemade Energy Bars Recipe
GF Recipe Summary
Gluten-Free The "Laurabar" — Homemade Energy Bars: A date and nut energy bar that compares favorably with brand-name versions while being much more affordable.
Larabar, meet the "Laurabar"
I enjoy quite a few of the the Larabar date-based snack bar varieties, but I honestly do not understand how something so simple to make from such affordable ingredients can cost so much.
Sure, they come conveniently wrapped and are of a size suitable for snacking on the go, but I just find the Larabar products to be prohibitively expensive. Let me clarify what I call expensive: a 1.7-ounce bar that lists for $1.69 at most grocery stores around me (i.e., a whopping one dollar per ounce!) and is sometime on sale for 4 bars for $5 (i.e., $1.25 each) or once in a blue-moon I see them for "only" $1/bar. Even at "only" a dollar per bar, wow that adds up in a hurry.
So, I made my own gluten-free equivalent. And, just to entertain my wife, I named them after her :)
Gluten-Free Recipe Card and Pictures
One of my favorite Larabar varieties is their "Peanut Butter Cookie" version, which like all Larabars is simply a mixture of dates (the primary ingredient in their bars) and secondary and perhaps tertiary flavors. I made two versions: one with chocolate chips and one without.
I started with a nice big tub of pitted dates that I acquired from Costco — this tub is a whopping 3.5 pounds of dates for something like $7.00 (i.e., $2.00/pound). Next, I picked up a 35-ounce container of Planters peanuts from the grocery store for $5.48 (i.e., $2.50/pound) — Planters is a Kraft company, and as such the peanuts should be GF since no gluten-issues were disclosed on package. For the chocolate-chip variation, I grabbed a 12-ounce bag of chocolate chips for $2.00.
1 (packed) Cup dates — place in the food processor and run it until the chopped dates essentially turn into a sticky well-chopped soft ball of dates. This only takes a minute or so.
1 Cup peanuts — add to the dates in the food processor. Perhaps use a spatula to mash the date-ball down toward bottom of chopper first. Run processor in bursts until you have peanuts chopped to desired consistency. This also takes less than a minute.
(optional) ½ Cup Chocolate Chips — if you are making the Peanut-Butter-Chocolate-Chip-Cookie version. Add these to the food processor and run in bursts for a total of 15 seconds or so (I only wanted to lightly-chop my chocolate chips so I had some noticeable "chunks" yet; you may not want to chop them at all, but chopping helps mix them into dates/peanuts quickly).
Move the finished date and peanut (and perhaps chocolate chips) mixture out of food processor and into a small glass pan (or equivalent). I used a 7"x5" glass pan. Now, pack that mixture down flat in the pan until it is level. I end up with about a 1/2"-5/8" thick bar using this size pan.
Chill the pan of date-mixture in the fridge for a while so they hold up to cutting into bars. An hour or two should suffice.
Cut your desired-size bars... they should look something like this when done:
You can surely place them in sandwich bags or plastic wrap for taking with you like any other snack bar now. And, you have just saved a fortune compared to purchasing pre-made bars!
Laurabar vs. Larabar : HUGE $ SAVINGS!
With a single batch (per recipe above) you will have between 16 and 18 ounces of finished product. In other words, you have just created the equivalent (by weight) of 10 Larabars that would have cost you between $10 (if on a super-sale) and $17 (if purchased at typical retail price). But, you just created the equivalent of those 10 bars for less than $2.50!
These bars are great for snacks or dessert, and they are relatively nutrient-rich with a fair amount of fiber, protein, and potassium. They sure beat snacking on a traditional candy bar when it comes to your gluten-free diet.