What’s the emergency snack in your bag? I try to pack fruit, but sometimes it’s fragile, squishes easily, and has a short bag life.
Yeah, I’ve cleaned out a funky fruited purse before.
It was bad. Nasty, moldy, bad. Yick.
Now, I try to keep the fruit where I can see it, and not in the bottom of my bag. Dried fruit and nuts are great for this, happy to hang out until their needed to save the day and an empty stomach. Larabars package them together in one portable, flavor-packed duo. Unless you go for the chocolate chip variety (my kids always vote yes), they have no added sugar. I’m a fan.
A few years back I tried making my own and I was shocked how simple it was. And a lot cheaper than the $1 per bar packaged variety, and even tastier-they’re a lot better fresh. Making them once means you know the formula and can modify them endlessly to suit your flavor preferences and imagination. I have and do.
When I was thinking about the Winter 20/20 Recipe Collection, I remembered sweet Meyer lemons at their peak and thought of the farmer’s market filled with fresh walnuts and a new crop of dried fruit- especially golden raisins (they’ll make you sit up and pay attention to raisins when you didn’t realize you’d forgotten how delicious they are) were on the list just waiting to become homemade larabars. Once I realized, I ran to the kitchen and put the mix through the food processor too. Wow, they were even better than I had hoped. These homemade larabars (in bite-size ball form) are my new all-time favorite variety. They blow the packaged stuff out of town. Meyer lemon and golden raisins pair beautifully with walnuts- so zippy and bright tasting.
Check out the bonus point section to bake them into the sweetest little sugar-free treats and even thumbprints with a plop of applesauce or jam on top. My kids love them best this way, and then the sticky factor drops a bit when they’re baked.
However, you make and take them, raw or baked, in the food processor or blender, these simple homemade larabars are solid gold.
(Psst- one more thing- don’t toss out the cook’s treat of the raisin-lemon soaking liquid. It’s the loveliest little zinger of a tea.)
Lemon Bar Bites
10 minutes • Makes 18 bites
1¼ cup golden raisins
1½ Meyer lemons, zested and juiced
1 cup boiling water
1½ cup walnuts
Pinch of salt
Place raisins and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor or in a blender. Pour boiling water over the raisins and cover, allowing them to steam and plump for 5 minutes. Drain liquid from the raisins and lightly pat dry with a towel (reserve the liquid- it’s a peppy and delicious little hot tea). Add lemon zest, walnuts, and salt to the raisins and pulse in the food processor or blender until a ball of dough begins to form, with a few chunks of walnuts still remaining. Scrape dough from the bowl or blender and roll into 1-1½” balls. Store in the fridge or freezer when not packing these to go wherever you do.
- Baked Lemon Bar Bites: Flatten the ball into a cookie shape and bake at 375° for 7-9 minutes, enough to toast the nuts. Allow the bites to cool on the baking sheet for several minutes to be firm enough to handle.
- Thumbprint Bake Bites: Make thumbprint indentations in the bites when shaping and dot with applesauce to serve (or fill with white chocolate if you are my kid who knows where those are hidden and thinks everything is improved with chocolate).
- Make bars instead of balls by shaping into a loaf pan or small baking dish. Chill for 30 minutes then cut and wrap in wax paper or plastic.
- These keep 2 weeks in the fridge and frozen for months; make a double batch while you’ve got the equipment dirty.
- Now that you have the formula, you can mix and match nuts and fruit to make all sort of homemade protein balls or bars: dates, apricots, almonds, cashews, chocolate, etc.
Like this easy combo? Try the rest of the Winter 20/20 Recipe Collection– it’s only 20 ingredients masterminded into 20+ recipes packed with fresh flavor. Seasonal cooking simplified.