This Saturday was the Annual Climb and Run for the Wilderness, where for the 4th year in a row, we (the kids, the husband, and I) have climbed all the stairs in the Calgary Tower. This year, some of us also took the stairs back down. Some people do this as many times as their bodies will carry them and collect money for the Alberta Wilderness Association . We are not there yet. I am looking forward to the year when I am only required to haul my own body weight up and down those stairs, but until then, I’m only going to do it once and I require refueling at the top. Hence the homemade Lara bars. These are my favourite easy, to-go, long shelf life, lightweight snacks to keep around for outings with the kids. Everyone loves them and they are full of good energy and they can be made in 10 minutes including clean up and prep. This is my favourite flavour combination (chocolate/cherry/almond) but please feel free to mess with the nuts, spices, dried fruits, whatever until you find your perfect bar; I think if you keep the ratio of fruit to nuts (or seeds) and keep at least half of the fruit as dates, you can do whatever you like. I usually freeze what I am not planning on using right away in packages of 2 or 3 bars so I can just grab them and go whenever I need to – they thaw very quickly at room temp. Also, the recipe can be cut in half or quartered or doubled or tripled; you are limited only by your imagination and the size of your food processor. This recipe make a 9×9 pan, which I usually cut into 16 squares.
1 cup (about 10-12) fresh, pitted Medjool dates
1 cup tart, sweetened dried cherries (dried cranberries will get the job done if you can’t find good cherries)
1 1/3 cups whole almonds
a large handful or 2 of dark chocolate chunks
1 tsp of cinnamon
1. Put the almonds in the food processor and pulse a few times until coarsely chopped. Pour into bowl or measuring cup and set aside.
2. Add dates and cherries to the processor and pulse until it starts to form a ball. Use your fingers to break it up a bit, then add the chocolate and cinnamon and pulse a few more times.
3. Use your fingers to break the ball up again and add the nuts back in. Pulse a few times to start the mixing and then dump the whole thing on a clean surface and work it all together in a kneading kind of fashion.
4. Once it is all sticking together, press into a 9×9 pan lined with plastic wrap. You can keep it, wrapped in the plastic in the pan or cut into squares and wrap individually or in groups. Stays good in an airtight container on the counter for a couple weeks or in the freezer for several months (though mine usually don’t last that long).