Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pinspiration Post- Homemade Lara Bars & Granola Bars

Pinspiration Post #1 ~ Homemade Snacks

I have to admit, I enjoy my Social Media.  Sharing photos and chatting with readers, other breeders, friends, and family on Facebook, sharing photos on Instagram, and checking out all of the amazing ideas on Pinterest can be fun and informational.  The challenge is, as a homeschooling mom of 3, wife, homemaker, family cook, blogger, farmer, breeder, youth club leader, co-op teacher, etc. I really shouldn't be "wasting time" on Pinterest, right?  So what's a lady to do?  There are SUCH fabulous ideas on Pinterest that COULD help me out, be enjoyed, and be fun for the family!  My guilt-free idea was that I must at least use some of the ideas I find rather than just drooling over them all and pinning them to boards to never be looked at again.  With that idea came this post, my "Pinspiration" trials whether they are a success or a total failure, I'm going to share them here with you'll!

This first week I decided to give some healthier, homemade snacks a try.  I've been eyeing some homemade Lara bar recipes for some time now but never took the time to grab the ingredients.  Once I decided I'd post about it, I buckled down, put the ingredients on my shopping list and gave them a try.  Most of them came out SO well that I just HAD to try the granola bar recipe I'd printed out and stashed in the same "To Try" pile.  Although I made some mistakes, they were really good as a whole and the kids actually ate them up! <3  Getting them to go crazy over healthy, easy, grab and go snacks was all it took for me to want to share them.  Here are the Pinterest Homemade Snack Recipes I tried this week.  You can find these and other "Real Food" ideas and recipes on the board labeled as such on our Pinterest page here.  There are so many other ideas on here I'm definitely going to be trying soon so keep an eye out for other Pinspiration posts from me!

First and foremost are those homemade, healthy Larabars I mentioned. 
I began buying Lara bars for my kids after reading about them on the 100 Days of Real Food blog last year.  A pack and go snack with 5 ingredients or less?  AND one that will help my kiddos to stay "regular" (sorry for TMI! but it's so true!)?  AND one that they will actually enjoy and ask for?  I'm all over that!  I loved the Lara bars and became an instant fan but they do tend to be a little pricey AND homemade is always my best choice.  When I saw the Pin for Jessie Monds "How to Make Homemade Larabars" I was on it.

Her genius is not just the taste (which is extraordinary- no exaggeration!) but the simplicity!  These things are SO easy to make and even easier to tailor to your own tastes!  Now that I've made all three of her recipe flavors, the kids and I have tried them with different dried fruit and nut combinations!

The basic steps are:
1. Process your nuts (and any coconut, sunflower seeds, etc. if you're using them) and salt in your food processor until they make nice crumbs.  Pour them in a large bowl and add in any chocolate chips.
2. Process your pitted dates (and any other dried fruit called for in the recipe) until they start to come together in a sticky mass. 
3. Add the sticky, chopped fruit to your chopped nut mix and mash it, knead it, work it with your hands.  Sort of like you do with bread dough until it's nice and mixed together. (Let the kids all grab chunks of the new flavor you're trying.)
4. Press it into your 8x8 lined pan and refrigerate until set.  It takes a couple of hours for them to set really well.
5. Cut into bars and store in the refrigerator.  I also found that if we're taking them with us somewhere for snacks and lunches it works best to freeze them the night before, they do get mushy in the heat. 

There are three flavors we tried-

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough- didn't stick together as well as the others- it could have been my processor

2 cups raw cashews
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts (we used almonds and they were delicious so we're sticking with almonds)
2 cups pitted dates
1/2 cup organic mini chocolate chips (we used dark chocolate chips because of the heart healthy benefits)
Pinch of sea salt

This was the first flavor I tried and it was a hit all around.  I did have trouble with it sticking well.  The dates didn't process as well as I would have liked in my food processor and I ended up cutting many by hand.  In hindsight, I'm fairly certain this is why they didn't "form" well.  Rather than bars we could pick up, we found ourselves eating the bits with a fork but the flavors were amazing!

Chocolate Cherry Pie Torte - Hands down the kids' favorite
1 1/2 raw cups cashews
1/2 cup almonds or pecans (we used almonds)
1 cup pitted dates
1 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup organic dark chocolate chips

This was the second flavor we tried and it went MUCH better than the first.  The cherries helped the dates go through my processor easier and it became the sticky ball it was supposed to.  The dried cherries adds an awesome tangy flavor we all loved.  This came in a close second to my favorite and was hands' down the kids favorite flavor.  I've already had to make more of these for them!

Coconut Cream Pie - MY favorite
2 cups raw cashews
1 cup organic unsweetened coconut
1 cup pitted dates
1 TBL melted coconut oil
1/3 cup organic dark chocolate chips
Pinch of sea salt
Process the melted coconut oil with the dates.

I can only say, "YUM!"  This one is delicious if you're a coconut fan- it tastes like a Mounds bar, seriously.  The coconut oil helped my food processor chop the dates easier and they formed much easier than the first batch.  I DID make an oops and add too much coconut oil which I corrected by doubling the rest of the ingredients and making two batches of these.  No harm there, they're amazing and still didn't last long around here!  The kids aren't the big coconut fan I am so while they enjoyed them, this wasn't their favorite.

Homemade Granola Bars

Okay- my third and final Pinspiration snack trial was from Two Peas and Their Pod.  These are No-Bake Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Granola Bars.  I know, it sounds like a party in your mouth kind of snack, doesn't it?  It is!  After searching through my Pinterest boards, I had my fourth recipe to try and I'm SOOOOO glad I did.  The Larabars were delicious but these were even better- these are completely snack-worthy! As in, the kids would eat them and not ask for deserts instead snack-worthy!  I made all of these for a recent APA-ABA Youth Poultry Club meeting I hosted at the house and these granola bars were gone in the first ten minutes! Seriously, kids LOVE them!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Yield: 8-10 bars
These no-bake granola bars are easy to make and kids and adults love them! They are perfect for picnics, lunch boxes, or snack time!


1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups quick oats
1/2 cup crispy rice cereal
3/4 cup chopped pretzels
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips


1. Cut out an 8 x 8 inch square of parchment paper. Place the parchment paper in the bottom of an 8 x 8 inch baking pan.
2. In a large sauce pan, add butter, brown sugar, honey and peanut butter. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture starts to bubble. Once bubbling, cook for 2 minutes while stirring. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

3. Stir in the oats, crispy cereal, and pretzels. Stir until well coated. Pour into the prepared pan. Press the mixture evenly into the pan. Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips over the top and gently press into the granola bars with your hands.
4. Place the bars in the refrigerator and let cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting. Cut into bars and serve.
Note-I store the bars in the refrigerator. I've kept them in the fridge for up to a week and they are still tasty!

So, there you have it!  I actually made four recipes for the kids from Pinterest this week! I'd definitely say that makes up for some of my Pinning minutes!  No wasted time here!  I enjoyed taking the time to create this post and discovering new recipes that had just been pinned to my boards WAITING for me to use them!  Thanks to you'll for the motivation!  Give these recipes a try, they're great for this time of year with the running around summer seems to create and stop back by and leave comments about how they worked for you!   Check back with me next week for my next Pinspiration!