Lara balls

Healthy Snacks: Lara Balls and Banana Bites

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Chocolate Lara Balls

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We have three growing boys who eat like they are getting paid for it. Our youngest son loves to eat so much that we sometimes have to tell him “you’re gonna be full after that.” Not because we are trying to be mean or watch his weight but because he gets stomach trouble after eating too much at one time (even with his “special diet” and taking enzymes when he
eats). Sometimes it’s hard to know what to make to feed the crew.

Over the years we have tried lots of recipes, several of which were complete flops. Today, I thought I would share a couple simple “go to” snacks that we make often.

Our kids love lara balls. They eat them sometimes for breakfast, put them in their lunches, for snacks, and sometimes as a dessert. Lara bars are awesome and I love the simple ingredients but let’s be honest, they can get pricey when there is not a big sale. Some of our favorite flavors are apple pie, blueberry muffin, key lime pie, chocolate chip cookie dough, and coconut cream.

A couple years ago we figured out that we could make just about any lara bar flavor and that it was super convenient to have them shaped in the little balls to grab and go.

There are several lara ball recipes out there on the internet. What would we do without the internet these days? One of the favorites we make every week is a simple chocolate lara ball. They are filled with great protein and several minerals that are important to the body.

The ingredients for our favorite lara ball are nuts, dates, sea salt, cacao powder, and vanilla. Very simple. We usually use a mix of nuts, with the majority of them being walnuts. Nuts are an excellent source of minerals that many of us aren’t getting enough of.

We have had one of our sons’ hair tested and he was low on several natural minerals. This boy eats salads every day and doesn’t get a lot of “junk food.” If he is lacking essential minerals, I can only imagine what’s going on in my body.

Our favorite nuts to use are walnuts, pecans, and almonds. We use a combination of those three in almost every lara bar/ball recipe. Calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, selenium, and some B vitamins are a few of the minerals packed into these nuts. Dates are an excellent source of fiber as well as some other essential minerals (selenium, copper, potassium, magnesium, and manganese).

For years we used cocoa powder, which we enjoyed, but we recently discovered cacao powder. Cacao is a superfood that is also jam packed with great nutrients and antioxidants that can be lost in the cocoa powder when it gets roasted. From my understanding, cocoa powder is cacao powder that has been processed and heated. After learning that, we made the simple change to cacao powder. We use the LIVfit organic cacao powder just because I saw it at our Wal-mart the day I really wanted some. Amazon has it for $8.50 and it lasts us quite a while.

As for the nuts, it seems like everybody has their opinions. Some stick with one brand or say they will only eat organic. We buy organic when possible but for us we figured out that the Aldi brand of nuts is best for our budget and that works well for us. We get our dates at Aldi as well. They run about $5 for a tub.

Our recipes are usually a combination of several recipes over the years and I rarely measure things like sea salt. Here is our chocolate lara balls recipe. It’s extremely simple.

● 1.5 cups of nuts (I like 1 cup walnuts and 1⁄2 cup almond/pecan mix)
● Dash of sea salt
● 1 cup of pitted dates
● 1 tsp vanilla
● 1⁄3 cup cacao powder

First, we blend the nuts in our ninja blender until they are fine. Some big chunks are ok. It’s a matter of preference.

Then, I pull the pits and tops off the dates. Please note, this is extremely important! If you forget to take your pits out or miss a couple top pieces to those precious dates, you are gonna hear all about it in your blender and your ingredients will be unusable. Who wants to break their teeth on hard date pits? Not me.

Toss those pitted dates in the blender with a dash of sea salt, 1 tsp of vanilla, and 1⁄3 cup cacao powder and give that blender a whirl. It should all blend together as shown below.

Next, we shape them into balls. This is my least favorite part because it is kind of boring and a little messy. It helps to have a great song or an audio book going for me. When the kids are home, it’s great to get them in on it!

We have stored them in several different containers over the years but right now we use a large Ball twist off plastic jar. The kids can get it open better than our glass containers and they don’t usually last very long anyway.

That’s it, so simple. We love them. We have made several versions that include apples, cinnamon, unsweetened coconut, dairy free chocolate chips, strawberries, and blueberries.

Yields12 Servings

 1 ½ cups Nuts
 1 dash Sea Salt
 1 cup Pitted Dates
 1 tsp Vanilla
  cup Cacao Powder

1

Blend the nuts in a food processor or blender until they are fine.

2

Pull the pits and tops off the dates.

3

Toss the pitted dates in the blender with sea salt, vanilla, and cacao powder and blend til the dough comes together.

4

Shape them into balls. They store in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for a few months.

Bowl of Lara balls

Ingredients

 1 ½ cups Nuts
 1 dash Sea Salt
 1 cup Pitted Dates
 1 tsp Vanilla
  cup Cacao Powder

Directions

1

Blend the nuts in a food processor or blender until they are fine.

2

Pull the pits and tops off the dates.

3

Toss the pitted dates in the blender with sea salt, vanilla, and cacao powder and blend til the dough comes together.

4

Shape them into balls. They store in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for a few months.

Bowl of Lara balls

Chocolate Lara Bars

Chocolate Drizzled Bananas

One of our other simple snacks is chocolate drizzled bananas. These take about 5 minutes total to make.

I line a pan with parchment paper, cut up my ripe bananas, and put the slices on the pan. Next, I grab a couple spoonfuls of coconut oil and pop it in the microwave for about 30 seconds (depending on how soft the coconut oil is).

We grab that cacao powder and stir in a heaping spoonful and drizzle the coconut oil/cacao powder mixture over those bananas and set them in the fridge to harden. SO SIMPLE.

Please note, some people would take the time to make their banana slices look beautiful and matching and cover them fully. Please have me over to eat yours if you like to do this. What I love about this is that we use our ripe bananas, get some healthy fats from the coconut oil, and lots of antioxidants and minerals from cacao powder.

There are a million different coconut oils out there. I have found that my favorite and the best for our budget is the organic Great Value tub (54 fluid oz) for $15 from Wal-mart. The cacao powder has no sugar but those sweet ripe bananas and coconut oil take care of that for us.

What are some of your favorite “go to” recipes? Would love to hear some new ones!

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