Homemade Chocolate Coconut Larabars

There are some things that aren’t worth making from scratch. They either are way tedious or expensive or the pre-made version tastes just as good. One food that falls into this category is pasta. I remember my dad convincing my brother and I that it would be fun to make our own ravioli. We had an old fashioned hand crank pasta maker. The kind that you have to feed the dough through umpteen times to make it then. Then you had to cut out each individual square and fill it with a tiny spoonful of ricotta. Let’s just say several hours later my brother and I were cranky and hungry. Now you can shell out over a hundred bucks for an automatic pasta maker attachment for your Kitchen Aid. Or you can pay 5 bucks for some fresh pasta at the grocery store or if you are lucky, local Italian market.

Then there are some things that are fun to make on occasion. Like ice cream. Every time (maybe 3 times a year) that I break out my ice cream maker I love the results. I declare that I will make a new flavor every week… then I forget to pre-chill the mixing bowl. Or don’t feel like making the custard base. And hey… Ben and Jerry’s really has ice cream making down pat. You can’t mess with Chunky Monkey.

And then there are those things that always taste better homemade. Like chocolate chip cookies. Chips Ahoy just can’t compete with fresh gooey right-out-of-the oven chocolate chip cookies.

Now enter Larabars. These tasty vegan snack bars have a simple ingredient list so they should be easy to replicate right? I have read oodles or recipes for homemade Larabars and so after my latest grocery store visit where I spent a bit too much… I thought hey, I should try to make my own too. After reading a few recipes, I struck out on my own to recreate one of my favorite flavors… Chocolate Coconut. These were literally a cinch! They took less than five minutes to make and tasted fairly similar to the real deal. Will I stop buying prepacked bars… probably not… but I will be experimenting with new flavors. Now I can have Larabars every day!

Homemade Chocolate Coconut Larabars

Yields: 5 bars

Time: Less than 5 minutes

Ingredients

2/3 cup raw almonds

1 cup dates (make sure to remove the pits!)

1/3 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened)

1/4 cup chocolate chips

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

Directions

Pulse the almonds in a food processor until they form a powder. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until completely combined. Remove the mixture and form into bars or balls. I store mine wrapped in plastic wrap in the freezer. I stick one in the fridge overnight to thaw.

The dates add a natural sweetness to balance out the unsweetened coconut. I used semisweet chocolate but you could go with dark or milk chocolate depending on your taste. I normally grab one of these bars for an afternoon snack but they would be as a part of a quick grab and go breakfast or for a healthy dessert.

Question: Do you DIY foods or do you prefer to buy pre-made products? I love experimenting with long complicated recipes. I love kitchen challenges. That being said, I love having quick things on hand for during the week.

WIAW: Season Confusion

Maybe it’s the unseasonably warm weather. Maybe it’s the fact that I am a sucker for sales at the grocery store. Maybe it’s just the fact that I love fall. Whatever the reason, my food today definitely had a distinctly fall flavor. Hopefully Jenn won’t mind and kick me out of her party.

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Breakfast

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Most of you probably used up the last of your pumpkin the day after Thanksgiving and never gave Libby a second thought. Last week I found myself craving pumpkin… and it was fate when it was on sale at the grocery store this week! This morning marked the return of the pumpkin custard oats. To up the “fall factor” I added some cranberries I had beenhoarding storing in the freezer. On top… cocoa nibs and a blob of Wild Squirrel Coconut Peanut Butter.

Morning Snack

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My first of the three new Chobani flavors. I love eating passion fruits when I am in tropical countries. Too bad they are so expensive here! The flavor of the yogurt was spot on. My only complaint was the seeds. While I am normally a big texture person, I prefer my yogurt super smooth and creamy. I have the same complaint about the pomegranate flavor. I think this would be delicious in a smoothie.

Lunch

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Leftover pasta from dinner last night. In the bowl: whole wheat penne, chicken sausage, peppers, onion, mushrooms, and garlic tomato sauce that Ryan and I picked up at Nundini’s when we went out to dinner on Saturday. It was delicious. The sauce was so much more flavorful than most jarred sauces. I need to make these types of diners more often. Pasta is so easy to change up by just adding different sauces and toppings.

Afternoon Snack

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Yes, I know that we are months past Halloween… but how could I resist buying a few when they were on sale for 50 cents? I think this is my favorite Clif Z-bar flavor. Although I have to keep my eyes peeled for the new oatmeal cookie one I have been reading about.

Dinner

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A “clean out the kitchen sink” salad. Spinach topped with leftover brisket, cherry tomatoes, Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain mix, and hummus mixed with fig balsamic.  This salad successfully emptied 3 tupperwares from my fridge! The fig balsamic was my favorite part. It’s amazing how better quality condiments can really elevate a whole meal.

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Great Harvest Raisin Craisin on the side. I love having frozen already in the freezer. It’s so convenient and you don’t have to feel rushed to eat the whole loaf right away.

Drink

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After dinner I was craving chocolate. Along with a few squares of dark chocolate I made some almond milk hot chocolate with cocoa powder, honey, and cinnamon. Sweet tooth satisfied!

Question: Do you often find yourself eating foods that are “out of season?”

Sunday Food and Fitness

Today was low key and featured my two favorite things… food and fitness.

Let’s start with the food.

For breakfast I tried out Tina’s Oat Bran minus the oats.

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It was a delicious switch up from my usual oatmeal. You whisk together flax meal, egg whites, almond milk, vanilla, and mashed banana. Then the whole mixture gets cooked in a pan until it gets a “oatmeal-like” consistency. I topped mine with my favorite of the four Wild Squirrel Nut butters.

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Bright eyed and bushy tailed is peanut butter with ground up espresso bean. I love the flavor as well as the gritty crunch. Tina wasn’t lying when she said that this breakfast was quite filling.

Lunch was a leftover mash up salad.

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Spinach base topped with cheddar cheese, sweet potato, and hummus mixed with balsamic.

After trips to both Kroger and Target I was able to get every new flavor!

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I predict that I will like the passion fruit the best… probably because it is the only 2 % one. The extra creaminess gets me every time. It will take a lot to overtake my favorite strawberry banana Chobani though:)

For dinner, I went out to dinner with Ryan’s family for his mom’s birthday. We went to Monument Inn which specializes in seafood. I ordered the Shrimp Creole, my favorite thing on the menu. It is a bed of rice topped with spicy marinara, shrimp, peppers, and onions. Nothing fancy but the sauce is out of this world. As are the cinnamon buns in the bread basket. Apparently on a busy Saturday they bake over 1000!

Onto fitness… it was another warm one in Houston… it hit 76! The warm weather definitely called for another day of outdoor exercise. It was a bit windy for biking so I opted for a run. Since my legs were a bit sore from my long ride yesterday I didn’t want to do a very intensive run. I remembered a fun workout I found over on Lindsay’s blog and hadn’t done in awhile. This workout was part of Lindsay’s 30 minute Thursday series.

It consists of 5 minutes of running followed by 15 jump lunges, 15 jump squats, and 15 pushups. This sequence is repeated three times. For the next three rounds the exercises change to 10 tricep pushups, 10 elbow to knee planks (each side) and 10 v-ups. At the end I did the following sequence inspired by Insanity:

10 Jumping Jacks

10 high knees

10 butt kicks

10 side to side jumps

10 Heismans

Repeat twice through. Last but not least, 30 seconds of plank walker on each side. I love the variety of this workout and being able to run and workout on the trails near my house is a breath of fresh air after the stuffiness of the gym.

Although it is weird not having cold weather this time of year, it is nice to be able to run outside in shorts and a t-shirt. Hey, I got to see snow in October :)

Question: Do you prefer to work out outdoors or in a gym?