Monday, April 2, 2012

The Hungry Quilter - #1 Tropical Mock Lara Bars

Some background...
I've decided to add a new segment to the blog called "The Hungry Quilter". I've always been a cooking enthusiast and for quite some time I had planned on becoming a pastry chef. I had a small bakery on Etsy while Kiddo was an infant and entered into countless cooking contests before Baby was born. Now I cook just for fun and well because the family expects dinner every night!

Last year I researched clean eating and feel in love. I lost weight quickly and in a healthy manner. It was amazing to see the impact on my family as well. My eldest daughter's digestion issues were radically improved in just a week and my husband enjoyed dropping the pounds without trying. It was easy for me to stay on track since I was training for a number of athletic events. When you are spending precious time training, you really don't want to eat garbage. Then our winter hit and I had a bad experience running.. I stopped exercising and enjoyed junk food for about 6 months. My weight went up 15#'s, my mood was not nearly as positive, and I watched sadly as both of my daughters return to suffering from reflux and other digestion issues.

It's spring time, it's time to train again for events, and it's time to permanently change our eating habits. I'm hoping that the more clean eating recipes I learn and create, the more likely I am to stay on track. My regular quilt/crochet/life posts will continue in the mornings with the food related ones in the evening. I hope that you will be inspired to try clean eating and see what a difference it can make in your life. I promise the food will taste good. I loooove food and won't eat something that doesn't taste delicious.

I love Lara bars! If you look at their ingredient list, you will recognize every one listed. There are no harmful chemicals or junk. My only complaint is that at $1/bar (and our family loves them!), they quickly make a large dent in our grocery budget. The answer? Make your own!

I didn't come up with the basic recipe, if you Google for Lara bar recipes you will find plenty! Here is my take on a tropical bar.

Tropical Mock Lara Bar
2/3 cup chopped dates (plain dates, not dipped in sugar or anything like that)
1/2 cup dried mango slices
2/3 cup plain cashews ( extra salt or anything)
a dash of unsweetened coconut flakes
a smaller dash of banana extract (probably not "clean", but it's a teensy insy drop)

1.) In a food processor, chop up the dates and mango slices until it forms a gooey paste. Remove from the processor and set aside.
2.) In the same processor (but you don't have to bother cleaning it first), chop up the cashews until they are good and small.
3.) In a medium bowl, mash the date mix with the cashews chunks. Sprinkle in just a pinch of coconut flakes and just a drop or two of the banana extract. Mash it up until it is well blended and sticks together; I use my hands for this step.
4.) Roll out the mixture and slice into bars. Wrap the individual bars with cellophane and toss into the fridge.

I love these for the super rushed mornings when I know I'll be tempted to stop for an artery busting breakfast sandwich. The kiddos love them too and are pretty sure they are a treat!

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