• Homemade Fruit & Nut Bars

    So you’ve started eating a Paleo-style diet and now you can’t eat Clif Bars anymore. (Thank goodness…who truly likes them anyway?!)

    Many endurance athletes—particularly in the cycling camp—rely on some form of energy bar at some point or another in their training / racing / recreational endeavors. Unfortunately, most bars are highly processed and contain grains, excess sugar, preservatives, etc. I challenge you to go into your local market and find a bar that is Paleo-friendly and most likely, you’ll only find Lara bars. Built around a base of ground dates and nuts with other ingredients to customize the flavors, these are definitely packed with sugar from the dates and dried fruit they contain but don’t have any other funky stuff. My beef with them is that they are pretty pricey…Trader Joe’s sells (a limited variety of) them for about $1 and they go upwards from there. (Aside: If you’ve been purchasing them over the years, is it me or have they seemed to have gotten smaller?! What the heck?)

    Homemade Fruit & Nut Bars | stupideasypaleo.com

    Luckily, these are really to make on your own, come out tasting just as good and are less expensive when you do it yourself. The caveat is that this job can’t be done without a food processor because you need to be able to chop the dates and nuts down well. After a quick press into a dish, the mixture can be cut into bars as big or small as you like, and wrapped in plastic wrap for individual storage.

    If you do a quick Google search, there are scores of variations for homemade Lara bars. The two varieties I made are from Everyday Paleo and of the types I’ve tried to make myself, hers are the most authentic as far as my taste buds are concerned. Once you get the hang of it, try substituting in your own favorites dried fruits, spices or nuts to customize. My best unique creation was a Coconut Key Lime Pie flavored bar that I made with real lime zest and juice…yum!

    [Bonus considerations for more experienced Paleo eaters: Just a word of caution…as with any dried fruits, the sugar content can be quite high so I personally save them for a intra-/post-workout snack. Just because you’re eating Paleo doesn’t mean you get a free ticket to crack out on sugar every single day even thought it’s from fruit! Also, fruit (with its high fructose content) is not as preferable as a post-workout carb replacement as say, starchy tubers such as yam / sweet potato. You may try varying the nuts used in this recipe to include varieties that tend more to the monounsaturated fats—such as macadamia or hazelnuts—and away from nuts with more polyunsaturated fats—such as almonds and walnuts. Also keep in mind that nuts tend to be heavy on the pro-inflammatory Omega-6 end of the spectrum.]

    Homemade Fruit & Nut Bars

    Preparation 2017-03-28T00:00:00+00:00
    Cook Time 2017-03-28T00:00:00+00:00
    Serves 1     adjust servings

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup almonds
    • 1/2 cup pecans
    • 12 Medjool dates
    • 1 cup dried berries and / or cherries
    • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
    • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1 Tablespoon melted coconut oil

    Instructions

    1. Line an 8″ x 8″ baking dish with plastic wrap or wax paper. Set aside.
    2. Add the nuts to the food processor and pulse down until they become small, crumbly bits. Don’t let it go too long or it will become nut butter—er, not that there’s anything wrong with that but it won’t help this recipe. Some pieces may be a bit bigger and some might be tiny. That’s okay. Pour the nuts in a large bowl.
    3. Now, pit the dates and put them in the food processor with the dried fruit, shredded coconut oil and sea salt. Pulse until it comes together in a ball.
    4. Now, with clean hands: add the dried fruit to the nuts and combine both together. You’ll have to knead pretty well but keep at it.
    5. Once all the nuts are blended in, you’ll take the lump of deliciousness and put it in the baking dish. Press the mixture into the dish until it’s packed down and smooth.
    6. Freeze for 20 minutes until firm.
    7. Turn out the mixture onto a cutting board and chop into pieces as big or small as you’d like. I usually make 12 bars from one dish.
    8. I individually wrap them. They can be frozen for a couple months if packed to withstand freezer burn. If not, store in the fridge for short term use.

    by

    Homemade Fruit & Nut Bars
    Ingredients
    • 1 cup almonds
    • 1/2 cup pecans
    • 12 Medjool dates
    • 1 cup dried berries and / or cherries
    • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
    • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1 Tablespoon melted coconut oil
    Instructions
    1. Line an 8″ x 8″ baking dish with plastic wrap or wax paper. Set aside.
    2. Add the nuts to the food processor and pulse down until they become small, crumbly bits. Don’t let it go too long or it will become nut butter—er, not that there’s anything wrong with that but it won’t help this recipe. Some pieces may be a bit bigger and some might be tiny. That’s okay. Pour the nuts in a large bowl.
    3. Now, pit the dates and put them in the food processor with the dried fruit, shredded coconut oil and sea salt. Pulse until it comes together in a ball.
    4. Now, with clean hands: add the dried fruit to the nuts and combine both together. You’ll have to knead pretty well but keep at it.
    5. Once all the nuts are blended in, you’ll take the lump of deliciousness and put it in the baking dish. Press the mixture into the dish until it’s packed down and smooth.
    6. Freeze for 20 minutes until firm.
    7. Turn out the mixture onto a cutting board and chop into pieces as big or small as you’d like. I usually make 12 bars from one dish.
    8. I individually wrap them. They can be frozen for a couple months if packed to withstand freezer burn. If not, store in the fridge for short term use.

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    Steph Gaudreau is a certified holistic nutrition practitioner, weightlifting and mindset coach, and the author of the best-selling Performance Paleo Cookbook. Her recipes and expert advice have been featured in SELF, Outside Magazine, Elle, and Greatist. Steph loves barbells, cats, and anything Lord of the Rings. She lives in San Diego, CA.

    49 thoughts on “Homemade Fruit & Nut Bars

      1. Hi Julie! That’s an interesting question…I would tend to use it more during exercise if I were doing an endurance sport. Lots of fruit immediately pre-workout is not really a preferential way to fuel because it prevents the body from using fat stores for energy. Post-workout it’s a good idea to replace carbs, though starchy carbs from yams/sweet potatoes, etc are preferable to the fructose in fruit. If I had no access to starchy carbs post-workout, then this might be the next best choice. Keep in mind that post-workout it’s a good idea to take in protein as well and the fats from the nuts will slow protein digestion which isn’t preferable either. Sorry for such a long answer.

    1. Steph – these are awesome! Made the apricot variety this weekend with a few tweaks. First – I ran out of dates so threw in 7 dates and 3 dried mission figs… Second – I tossed in a few dried wild blueberries with the apricots in the measuring cup… Third – I added about 2 tsp of cinnamon and 1.5 tsp of cayenne pepper to break up the addictive “OMG I could eat the whole pan” sweetness. Oh – also I’ve read that both cinnamon and cayenne help boost the metabolism. And, well, I just really love spicy things. They’re pretty awesome. Thanks for the ideas! 🙂

      1. Yay! I love your ideas and modifications..proof that cooking (not baking) can usually be modified to suit your taste or the availability of ingredients. The idea of adding cayenne is GENIUS!

    2. I tried making these with dried strawberries. It tasted great, but was very crumbly. The fruit mixture never balled up in the fruit processor like the directions say, and even after freezing for 30mins the whole thing just crumbled when I put it on the cutting board. There were only a few ok sized chunks that stayed together. Maybe I’ll try more dates, less nuts, and a stickier fruit next time.

      1. You need to use dates as the base because they are stickier. It’s unclear based on your description whether you did that. I have never had this recipe not work. If you used dates, it’s possible they were really dry inside which can sometimes happen. They need to be plump and moist.

        1. If you discover that your raisins or dates are too dry try putting them in boiling hot water until they plump up and then the water after a few minutes. This quickly restores the moisture to the dried raisins or dates before adding them to your recipe.

    3. I made the berry version with dried cherries but instead of putting them in a pan and cutting into bars I rolled them into balls then rolled in more coconut. That might help with the crumbling problem 🙂

    4. I just started paleo and these are amazing!!! I made them and my family are all big fans. I have a hiking event this weekend with about a dozen preteens. I’m making these for our snack and the kids are going to learn about how good real food can taste and make your body feel good.

    5. Hi! Just stumbled onto your site and love the recipes. You mentioned a Coconut Key Lime Pie bar and my mouth is drooling but I can’t seem to locate the recipe. 🙁 Do you by chance have that somewhere else? 😀

      Thanks!

    6. These are delicious! I almost don’t believe they can be healthy!
      I made these today, but since I did not have dried fruit, I skipped it and added one tablespoon of cocoa powder.
      I will try with dried cherries next time.
      Thanks for the recipe!

      1. I use cricket flour to add protein to bars. You could try mixing in whey or something like that but I’ve not tried it.

    7. I loved these bars but could not get them to stick together and not crumble when I cut them. They date and dried fruit mixture did not form a ball in the food processor as described and when I cut them out of the freezer, they crumbled. I live at a high altitude of 6500 feet in New Mexico and wonder if that makes a difference although they are not baked. Maybe more coconut oil?

      1. Hi Vicki…is there a chance your dates are older and / or dry? Did you use the large Medjool dates? They are softer and more sticky than the small Deglet dates.

    8. I bought them from Whole Foods two days ago. They are the large Medjool datese. So not sure what the issue is.

      1. I’m not sure either. I haven’t heard of there being an issue with the recipe but in the future if it looks dry, add more dates one at a time until the “dough” is sticky.

    9. Would it be possible to share the nutritional information on these bars? They look delicious!! Can’t wait to give them a try!

      1. Hi Arin,

        The nutritional info can be calculated using a site like MyFitnessPal.com or CalorieKing.com. Hope that helps!

    10. Oh my gosh! I made these for the first time last night and they are better than the Lara bars!! I am using a lot of self control to not eat them all at once LOL! I’m glad I read thru the comments. Mine never balled up in the food processor, but they stayed at chunks ok enough. But I know my dates weren’t the freshest so next time they will be for sure.
      Thank you!!!

    11. Hello Steph, I ran across this recipe and thought I would try it out. I tried it with two types of dates. One with Medjool Dates and one with Bahrain dates. As you said above…the only dates that seem to be sticky enough is the Medjools. Without the stick, so to speak…the bars crumble. They are super quick to make!

      Thanks for the recipe.

    12. Do you have a recipe that is affordable and easy to make for a breakfast bar that has high protein and low sugar and carbohydrates.

    13. I made some today my own variety, dates, goji berries, cranberries, cherries and inca berries, didn’t hold together as well as I’d like, but damn! are they yummy! can’t wait to see how they go on my long run

    14. Hi Steph,
      I just tired making these. It’s so cool how all of a sudden the fruit starts to ball up, just like you said! I liked someones suggest to add spice, so I added cinnamon, cardamon, and ginger to the apricot blend and I added cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and a little clove to the cherry, berry. I noticed after I finished the apricot batch, that the main recipe called for shredded coconut and coconut oil. Do you usually added those ingredients to every nut and fruit combo?
      Thanks so much!

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