Chemical-free, gluten-free, sugar-free sweeteners are hard to come by outside of honey and maple syrup. I mean, what’s sweeter than sugar, Sugar? And as much as I’m a sugar fiend myself, I’m trying to lay off because that stuff doesn’t do me any favors in the long run—mentally, emotionally, or physically.
Now, honey and maple syrup (all natural) are great substitutes for sugar. Honey is especially beneficially due to all of it’s ‘magic.’ However, if you’re trying to avoid those kinds of sweeteners as well, a totally fruit-based sweetener is a great alternative. Enter dates and prunes—the sugar sources of the fruit world. You can make a thick, sticky, sweet syrup from a combination of these two. It works as a fantastic sugar substitute in paleo baking (flourless pumpkin bars, anyone?) or, like me, in your coffee!
DATE AND PRUNE SYRUP
You’ll need dried, organic, dates and prunes for this recipe. Water, a blender, and a storage container—a Ball canning jar works great. The ratio of dried fruit to water is 1 to 2—I’ve used cup measurements, but you can make as large a batch as you want based on that ratio. Also, I’ve found the mixture thickens to a near jelly consistency as it cools, so you can add water until you’re happy with the consistency. Just keep in mind that more water dilutes the sweetness.
Toss 1/2 cup of dried organic dates and 1/2 cup of dried organic prunes in a blender. Cover with 2 cups of boiling water and let sit until the water cools a bit and the fruit softens. Whirl on high until the mixture liquifies completely. There should be no bits of fruit in the mixture. Add more water as if necessary, scraping down the sides of the blender as you go.
When you’re finished, store syrup in a airtight container in the fridge.
Your bars are fantastic. Like whoa. When I stripped sugar and dairy and ALL THE TASTY THINGS out of my life for a while, you were there to pull me out of my emotional slump and remind me it was going to be okay. And you were right.
No apple pie? That’s okay because Apple Pie Larabars.
No chewy nut-ridden candy bars? That’s okay. You and your friend Clif, and Clif’s son Kit, devised a Cashew nut bar. (You are friends, right? Cuz he’s awesome. Or his bars are awesome anyway.)
Coconut cream pie? Coconut Cream Pie Larabar.
Pumpkin spice? Kit’s Cherry and Pumpkin Seed Bar.
It’s all good!
But Lara, and I really hope you don’t mind me saying this, your bar-count-per-box is way low. Like, for real. It just doesn’t work. I need more than five bars! At least Clif and Kit upped their game a little there. 12 bars per box. On point.
Whatever. It doesn’t matter. I can deal. In fact, I can more than deal!
Because all this to say thank you. Thanks for coming to my hangry rescue more than once and also for the inspiration.
Yah. You inspired me. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right? Right.
So this is my best compliment then. And I can make more than 5 bars at a time. More than 12 even! So thanks Lara.
Hugs and kisses,
PUMPKIN-ALMOND FRUIT AND NUT BAR
(Inspired by Lara, Clif, and Kit)
1 cup dry roasted almonds
1/2 cup dry roasted and salted cashews
1/2 cup figs
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup dry unsweetened coconut flakes
In a food processor, whirl all of the above ingredients except the coconut flakes. Keep in mind that depending on the size of your food processor, you may have to do this in batches.
The mixture should be very thick. You should not be able to really do more than poke it or move it around with a spoon. If it is more malleable than that, add coconut flakes as needed to thicken. If it is too thick, add more pumpkin. When you feel the consistency is good, dump and scrape the mixture into a foil or parchment lined 11×14 cake pan and press into the pan. Be quite firm, packing down the mixture until it is smooth and compressed. Pop the pan into the fridge for a couple of hours and then lift the whole thing from the pan within the foil or parchment paper. peal back the edges of the paper/foil and cut your bars to the desired size. Enjoy!
Ps. Lara, Clif, and Kit have no idea who I am. Neither do their affiliates, companies, organizations, or nutrition-gurus. This isn’t a sales plug so much as a tongue-in-cheek look at my own life-in-food. Kthanksbye.