It’s funny – I don’t care much for candy bars. I never have a craving for a Peanut Chew like my dad does (he’s got a stash in his car, I kid you not!) or pop Raisinettes like it’s nobody’s business. I do love M&Ms and if you put a bowl in front of me, I will eat all of them — every … last … one. Of course, my stomach will hate me for it, but they are just too addicting. When it comes to actual candy bars, I’m not the biggest fan. However…I will indulge in those protein and energy bars that sound like they should be a candy bar. Some of them have just as much (if not more) sugar than your average sweet treat, so they aren’t always the greatest thing for you to have. But there are a few that satisfy my sweet tooth craving and give me the nutrition I need before or after a good work out.
My favorite protein-packed bar is ThinkThin. They’re a good meal replacement bar, or great for a post-workout-pick-me-up with 200 calories, 8-9 grams of fat, NO sugar and 20 grams of protein. Larabars are really great, too. They are very simple and made with natural ingredients you can find in your own kitchen – which got me thinking… Why am I spending money on these bars when I can easily make them myself? So I checked out the ingredient list on the back of a few of them and decided on two very easy ones to remake at home. The Cashew Cookie Bar only has TWO ingredients: dates and cashews. That’s it. Seriously??? How could it be that easy? The Peanut Butter Cookie Bar has THREE: dates, peanuts and sea salt. Again, my mind was blown. These bars are the easiest thing in the world to make and they are full of good-for-you deliciousness.
Dates are a great source of fiber and potassium. They are a healthy alternative for sweet ingredients, and because of all the fiber, they will help keep you full longer. Both peanuts and cashews contain the same as the heart-healthy fat found in olive oil. Peanuts pack in nutrients that promote a healthy heart; they are also a good source of vitamin E, niacin, folate, protein and manganese. Cashews are lower in fat than most other nuts. There are a trillion other reasons why nuts are good for you – just make sure you watch your portion, because they DO have a lot of fat and calories and it all adds up.
Homemade Cashew Cookie and Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar Bites
Makes 6 of each
12 large Medjool dates, cut in half and pitted
½ cup chopped cashews
½ cup chopped peanuts
a pinch of sea salt
For the Cashew Cookie bites:
Combine 6 of the dates and the cashews in a food processor and blend for about 1 minute. Dump out the mixture and mold into a ball with your hands. Divide the ball into 6 even smaller balls.
For the Peanut Butter Cookie bites:
Combine 6 of the dates, peanuts and sea salt in a food processor and blend for about 1 minute. Dump out the mixture and mold into a ball with your hands. Divide the ball into 6 even smaller balls.