We have had approximately 2 good park days this spring so far – not even close to cool.
But the 2 times we did get to go, I was able to make a morning of it and pack up a snack or pack up lunch and stay for most of the morning. I quickly realized that now that my oldest (almost 4) is more aware of her peers, she asks more questions about what she sees them playing and doing – and what they are eating for their snacks and lunches 🙂
It is a great opportunity for me to do some toddler sized food education with her – how food affects our bodies and what is good “grow food” – this is the term we use to talk about nutrient dense foods that help us to grow up big and strong and ones that make our bodies FEEL GOOD – not crash after a sugar or toxin rush. She totally gets it – don’t underestimate those little one’s understanding!
Anyway! Larabars are pretty popular, and although most of the flavors have pretty decent in ingredients, they can be just plain pricey. I also prefer to use nuts that have been blanched so the phytic acid is reduced – this makes them easier on the belly to digest. I’m also a little finicky on how sweet they need to be, and like adding in extra nourishment like coconut as well.
I have been trying a few different flavors over the last couple months and will be sharing them in the coming weeks! This one came about trying to duplicate the chocolate Larabar and I just had to name it brownie because that is exactly what it tastes like!
- 2 cups Medjool dates (I get mine cheapest at our grocery store but this is what they look like)
- 3-4 TB water
- 2 ½ cups blanched almonds (I get mine cheapest at our local grocery store but this is what they look like – no skins) (if you are nut free you could do sunflower seeds)
- 2/3 cup carob powder or raw cocoa powder (I get both of these cheapest in the bulk refrigerated section at our health food store)
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut (I get this cheapest in the bulk refrigerated section at our health food store)
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 2 TB vanilla extract
- Soak the dates fully in some water for a few minutes while you do the next 2 steps.
- In a blender or food processor, blend the almonds until they are bits and pieces and pour into a mixing bowl.
- Add the cocoa, coconut, salt, and vanilla to the bowl.
- Blend your dates and 3-4 TB of the soaking water in your blender or food processor and add the paste to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.
- Combine ingredients with a spatula, and press into a small, parchment paper lined baking dish.
- Refrigerate an hour until solid and cut into portions. Wrap in paper and store in the fridge or long term in a freezer bag in the freezer.
- You very well could process this whole thing in a larger food processor or in a high powered blender – I don’t have either so I have to do batches in my Magic Bullet. It works just as well – just takes a few minutes longer 😉 No biggie!
- You can also make the almond pieces smaller – this is as good as it would get in mine.
- I have found I actually like to keep them frozen and then pull them out before we leave for an outing – they thaw fast and when this particular one is too warm the chocolate gets messy.
- This makes about 10-12 bars depending on the size you want. Double up if you want some for the freezer. I plan to triple batch some of the fruit and nut bars right before I have baby #3 to have easy snacks stored away for my baby moon 😉
Seriously! Has anyone had any good park days yet?! What are your favorite snacks and park lunches to bring along?