I was a little late to the energy bar party. It was a matter of semantics. Energy bars. That’s really not a very appetizing name. In fact, it sounds like some futuristic food substitute (i.e. Soylent Green. F.Y.I. That’s people, people.) Ew.
There’s another little wrinkle. You see, energy bars sound like healthy food for health food’s sake. If you tell me to eat something just because it’s healthy, I’ll ask you to pass me a stick of butter and a fork. I’m contrary. I’m sorry. I do try to reform, but it’s me on a cellular level. I’m the original rebel without a cause.
Here comes issue number three. I’m cheap. We’ve been down this road before once or twice. I’ve walked many a time past the gigantic displays of energy bars -Larabars, Clif, Luna, Grouchy, Sleepy, Dumpy- and laughed derisively at the prices. A buck or more a bar? HA HA! In order to get one for everyone in my family I’d have to spend nearly ten dollars. Ten dollars for one snack? Not happening.
So, given all this information, I would’ve been the last person I would expect to perfect a homemade energy bar. Here’s how it happened.
Somehow or another, I found myself with a bunch of dates that were nearing the end of their usefulness. I remembered my step-mom making raw cookies a while back and thought I’d give it a whirl. Literally. Because they’re made in the food processor. Ba-dum-bum. I’ll be here all week folks. Tip jar is on the piano.
One thing led to another, dates in the food processor led to chocolate chips and almonds and before I knew it, I was pressing an ugly but delicious paste into a parchment lined pan and whacking the whole thing into the refrigerator to get firm. The next morning, I pulled the parchment wrapped slab-o-dates/almonds/chocolate out of the pan, cut it into squares and called my small regiment of taste testers to the room.
I blinked, as humans are wont to do, and when I opened my eyes, there were mere crumbs left on the cutting board and I was surrounded by big-eyed, finger-licking, hollow-legged, teen and pre-teen boys who were not-so-innocently inquiring as to whether or not I had a second pan hidden somewhere in that refrigerator. As a matter of fact, I did. Because I had foreseen this possibility, I pressed the mixture into three separate pans but I sure wasn’t going to tell THEM that. No way. I wanted it to last more than one day.
The next day, I cut up the two remaining pans into bars and took them to the farmers’ market in Angelica to share with the other vendors. As the adults scarfed the bars much in the same way my kids had, I heard one vendor say, “These taste like Snickers bars. Are you sure they’re good for me?”
So where does the Larabar of the recipe title come into all of this? A friend asked me what was held the bars together. When I told her it was a base of ground dates she exclaimed, “OH! It’s a homemade Larabar!” A quick perusal of the Larabar website proved my friend correct. And here I eat crow on the first two reasons I avoided energy bars. But I maintain my cheapness with pride and this recipe helps me do that. Cheap, yummy and healthy? I’ll eat to that.
Count me among the converted. For those of you who, like me, have balked at the whole energy bar fad, let me tell you why this is handy to have around. Tuck one or two in lunch boxes or bags, grab one when you’re ravenous and still hours from a proper meal, slide one into a sandwich bag and then into your jacket pocket to sustain you on long fall walks or hikes, or just plain nibble when you get peckish. It’s mainly fruit and nuts with a little dark chocolate thrown in to boot. How can you lose?