Friday, January 27, 2012

Homemade Blueberry Muffin Larabar Balls

I'm a huge fan of Larabars.  If you've never had one, it's a foil-wrapped bar you can find in the health-foods aisle at the grocery store, made only from dried fruits and nuts, with the occasional addition of flavored extract or salt.  No added sugar, no artificial sweetener, no preservatives.  And they come in about 20 different flavors so the only problem is, for those of us who are terribly indecisive, it can be difficult to figure out which one to choose.  Confession:  I am that crazy person who spends 10 minutes standing in the nutrition-bar aisle looking frazzled because I can't decide between a Pecan Pie or Lemon Larabar.  

I love them because they're a portable snack made from 100% real-food ingredients.  Kind of like trail mix, in snack bar form.  They're the perfect mix of protein, fat and carbohydrates (including fiber) to give me sustained energy before a run or workout-sesh, or if I need to eat something as a snack between meals.  And because they're not loaded with preservatives or artificial sweeteners, I can feel good about eating them.

My favorite flavors are Key Lime Pie (when I can find it!), Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip and Blueberry Muffin, but I've yet to find a flavor I didn't enjoy (and I am pretty sure I have tried most of them).  The great thing about these bars is, they get all of their sweetness* from dates and dried fruit, so even people who  avoid refined sugar or artificial sugars can eat them without any guilt.  They're gluten-free, paleo-friendly and even perfect for raw-food vegans.

*An exception to this is the Larabars that contain chocolate chips.  These do have sugar in the chocolate chips themselves, although the rest of the bar has no added sugar

Occasionally I can find Larabars on sale for $1 each, and when I do you better believe I STOCK UP.  Confession #2 of the day:  I hoard Larabars in my kitchen pantry.  When my stash is gone, however, I get out my mini food-processor and make my own.  Only instead of forming them into bars, I roll them into little balls and wrap them in saran wrap.  I find that 1 ball is the perfect size to eat before a workout or run or during a hike when I just need a little energy but am not starving.  I usually have the ingredients on hand because I think nuts and dried fruit are a great snack, a delicious addition to salads and the perfect topping for my oatmeal or cereal most mornings.  Even if you don't have the ingredients and have to go buy some of them, they still end up costing less if you make them yourself rather than buy them at full price (usually $1.67 or more each at my grocery store).

This recipe makes 5 balls, each ball is approximately the equivalent of 1/2 of a Larabar.  I recommend that you store them in the refrigerator since they lack preservatives.  They'll be fine out of the refrigerator for a few hours (i.e. during a hike, or in your purse running errands) but I wouldn't recommend storing them in the pantry.

I have lots of variations to share but first up is one of my personal favorites:  Blueberry Muffin.

I do NOT recommend this brand of dried blueberries.  When I got them home, I realized they have added sugar!  WTF?!  WHY would you add sugar to (already sweet) fruit?  I'm going back to my dried organic blueberries from the bulk bin at my local health-foods co-op.  

No-Bake Blueberry Fruit & Nut Energy Balls aka. Blueberry Muffin LaraBalls
makes 5 snack-size balls (this recipe can easily be doubled as well)
loosely adapted from Foodbuzz

1/3 cup raw, unsalted cashews or almonds (I use a combination of the two)
1/4 cup pitted dates, roughly chopped
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract (OR 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice + 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest)

I am a little impatient so I usually just toss all of the dried nuts and both the dates and blueberries into the food processor at the same time and pulse until combined.  Then add my vanilla extract and lemon extract (or lemon juice + zest) and pulse a few more times.  Then, roll the mixture into 5 equal size balls and wrap each, individually, in a piece of plastic wrap.

If you want your Larabar balls to look more like the bar (i.e. larger pieces of blueberries studding the balls), start by adding all of the nuts to the bowl of the food processor.  Pulse until finely chopped, then add the dates and pulse until well combined.  Finally, add in your extracts and the blueberries and pulse 3 or 4 more times, just to combine but keeping the blueberries mostly intact.  Continue rolling into balls and wrapping as above.

Mine:  Purple-ish-blue from pulverizing the heck out of the blueberries.  Theirs:  Brown with big chunks of blueberry throughout.   Taste the same to me! 

Individually-wrapped for snacking on the go.


1 comment:

I love comments! Leave me some love!