homemade mocha lara bars

mocha larabarA gluten-free treat that’s so satisfyingly simple.

You’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cup medjool dates,* pitted
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/3 cup cashews
  • 2 TBSP cocoa powder
  • 1 TBSP ground coffee beans
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Put everything in the food processor until the nuts are finely chopped and the dates have become paste-like.
  2. Pour/mold the mixture onto a small baking sheet with parchment – I used the one from my toaster oven. Press it together to make it more compact. It’ll be sticky so you could use another sheet of parchment paper in between your hands and the mixture.
  3. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for an hour or so, or in the fridge overnight. I usually put something heavy on top of the flattened mixture to help pack it down some more (keeping the mixture covered with the extra sheet of parchment or plastic wrap of course!).
  4. When it’s firmed up a bit, cut it into your favorite or most portable shape, wrap individually and enjoy!

*I recommend starting with whole dates. Removing the pits yourself is an extra step, but I find that the dates tend to be drier when they’ve been pitted and packaged for a while. If pre-pitted dates are what’s available to you, they’ll work too! You just may need to add extra dates or 1T of water at a time to get the mixture to hold.

There are endless variations! Dates are the key ingredient here – you can add or remove ingredients as you like to create different flavor combinations. I made a Pecan Pie version tonight as well using 1 cup roasted pecans, 1 cup pitted medjool dates, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp vanilla (process pecans, cinnamon, and salt until finely ground, then add dates and vanilla and continue processing until you’ve got a coarse paste).




don’t throw away brown bananas (make gluten-free banana bread!)

banana bread

What do you do with brown bananas?

I went to my parents house today and there was a bundle of overripe bananas on the counter, awaiting certain disposal. The brown freckles on them were starting to meld into one splotch and they were soft to the touch. I wanted to rescue these misjudged fruits from a needless fate.

Aside from freezing these “bad”-nanas for smoothies, banana ice cream, or a simple dessert with peanut butter, overripe bananas can easily be baked into banana bread.

For a stretch of about 6 months or so, I’d make several loaves of banana bread each month. It became a morning habit – throw ingredients into a whizzing food processor and in less than 10 minutes you can slide the batter-filled bread pan in the toaster oven to evolve into something more.

This is a recipe I discovered from the lovely Juli Bauer from PaleOMG.com. I’ve adapted it here for extra-ripe bananas and a toaster convection oven. Best part is, you really only need to clean one appliance and one baking pan once you’re done!

Brown Banana Bread:

  • 1½ cups roasted unsalted cashews
  • 3 brown (or spotty) bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1¼ cup almond meal/flour  (+ maybe a bit more)
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey (or more depending on your level of sweet tooth)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  1. Using a food processor, grind cashews to a powder. Keep processing until it starts to clump together again.
  2. Peel bananas and add to the mix. You can do this while it runs, or you can stop to add them in and start the processor again. Let this become a soupy paste.
  3. Add eggs and process until thoroughly incorporated. At this point, stop your food processor and check your batter. It should be liquid-y but not runny.*
  4. Grease a bread pan with some coconut oil and pour your banana batter in. Place in 375 degree oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. If you use a toaster oven like I do, cover your bread pan with a layer of foil to keep the top from burning. (and way to go for saving energy!)
  5. Let bread cool for about 10 minutes while you inhale it the scent of banana-bready goodness.
  6. Enjoy! I don’t need to tell you this tastes great with peanut butter, do I?

*This part is dependent on how ripe your bananas are. The riper they are, the more liquidy/sweet your batter will be. The less ripe, the more starches the banana keeps and you won’t need to add more flour. If the batter easily drips off a spoon, spatula, or your finger, add more almond meal, 1/8 cup at a time until it drips slowly off your spoon/spatula/finger.