Lara Bars are actually quite impressive. The ingredient list is often very short, only a few, minimal ingredients are included and there is never anything that you can't pronounce (though I will be honest that the Chocolate Peanut Butter is little more than a glorified chocolate bar).
Living a lean, clean, green lifestyle means that I have been paying a lot more attention to the processed foods that I buy and when I can avoid it, I don't buy processed foods at all. Sometimes though, you are on the run, starving, and limited to whatever you can find in the store or whatever you may have stashed in your purse. In those cases (especially because I suffer from what some may call "hanger" = hunger + anger), I like to stick to the least processed things I can find (like Lara bars) or I like to have some healthy snacks pre-packed to avoid any meltdowns or snappy comments at innocent passers-by.
In this case, you can make your own Lara-ish bar and save a few bucks as well. These bars are so easy to whip up and the flavor combinations are endless. I went with the tried and tested recipe that I found on Cookie & Kate, but I can't wait to make these again and experiment with some other ingredients (e.g., chocolate!!).
Homemade "Lara" BarsAdapted slightly from Cookie & Kate
1 1/4 cup almonds*
1 cup pitted dates
1 cup organic dried apricots (substitute dried cherries, cranberries)
Pinch of sea salt
Add ins: cocoa powder, chocolate chips, coconut shreds, lemon zest, nut butters - use small amounts at first and add more if necessary
Line an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish with parchment paper or wax paper. In a food processor, pulse the almonds until they are chopped (stop before they start turning into nut butter). Pour them into a bowl.
Process the pitted dates, dried apricots and sea salt until the dried fruits are mashed into a paste. They may try to ball up in the processor, in which case you’ll want to stop and break up the mixture with a spoon before continuing.
Break up the fruit mixture and add the nuts to the food processor. Process until the chopped nuts are incorporated evenly into the fruit mixture. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish, and use your hands to press it into an even layer.
Chill the baking dish in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, then use a sharp knife to cut the fruit-and-nut blend into squares or bars (I cut mine into 16 squares). Wrap each bar tightly for individual servings. These bars should last for a couple weeks at room temperature, but store them in the refrigerator or freezer for prolonged shelf life.
*I used 1.5 cups of almonds and as you can see from the picture, that was too much. So in the recipe, I've cut it down a bit. This should ensure that the bars aren't too crumbly!