I have always been a huge fan of Lärabars – they are one of very few snack bars out there that are made with all-natural ingredients and have no added sugars. Their sweetness comes from dates, which are also a source of fibre, folate and potassium. One thing I don’t like about them, however, is that they are fairly low in protein – about 3-5 g per bar – so I wouldn't say that they are the best snack choice. (Some of my colleagues recommend at least 8 g of protein in a snack.)
I've had Clotilde's recipe earmarked for a while now, and given that the theme for the client newsletter at work this month was physical activity, I decided this would be the perfect time to try it out.
I decided to add soy to my version to increase the protein levels. Lärabars have always prided themselves on being soy-free, likely because soybeans are often genetically-modified and because it is a common allergen. Also, soybeans have to be cooked, and even though it doesn’t say so on the label, Lärabars are a raw food, which is usually defined as food that has not been heated above 46°C. If those are concerns for you, feel free to swap out the soybeans in this recipe for a raw nut; but if not, roasting your own soy nuts is its own adventure in itself! I found out the hard way that I had to soak them for at least eight hours first...
I ended up with way more soy nuts than I'd originally intended, so I threw them in a tupperware with some salt and pepper and they made for a delicious snack. (I made the mistake of not storing them in the fridge and they grew mold after four weeks!)
I ultimately ended up basing my recipe on Camilla's recipe (linked from Clotilde's site) as it used fewer ingredients and a simpler method, which leaves room for a lot of variations! Aside from trading the soybeans for a raw nut (I was worried that using only soybeans was going to affect the taste, so I added raw almonds as well), you can also swap up to half of the dates for another dried fruit. I also added the same blend of spices that I used for this granola (thus the "chai latte" in the name).
These babies actually served me quite well when I was in Thailand - I'd eat half of one in the morning to get me through training before we went out as a group for breakfast.
Soy Chai Latte "Lärabars"
Adapted from Enlightened Cooking
Makes 4 bars
- 1 cup (250 mL, ~140 g) dates, coarsely chopped
- ⅓ cup (85 mL) roasted soybeans*
- ⅓ cup (85 mL) raw, unblanched almonds
- A pinch each of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves and nutmeg
Nutrition Info (per bar): 234 calories, 9 g fat (1 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 34 g carbohydrate (6 g fibre, 23 g sugar), 9 g protein, 2 mg sodium. An excellent source of potassium and manganese. A good source of phosphorus, magnesium and copper.
- In a food processor or blender (I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to make this recipe with my Magic Bullet), blend dates until they become a paste. Scrape into a medium-sized bowl.
- Pulse soybeans and almonds in food processor/blender (you don’t have to wash the container beforehand) until finely chopped. Add nuts and spices into bowl with dates. Use your fingers to knead the nuts into the paste – don’t worry about it being sticky; the nuts will take care of that. In fact, when it starts getting sticky that means you are almost done.
- Split mixture into four parts and wrap in plastic wrap. Shape mixture into rectangular bars in the plastic wrap, if desired. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to solidify – it’s best to keep these in the refrigerator to retain their freshness.
*To roast your own soybeans, buy some dried soybeans. (You will need 45-50 g for this recipe.) Cover in water (water should come up at least 2-3 inches above beans) and soak for 8-12 hours. Drain the beans and blot with paper towel to remove excess moisture. Spread beans in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in oven preheated to 350°F. After 15 minutes, stir the beans, then stir every 5 minutes until they become golden brown (about 30 minutes). Use in recipes or toss them with your favourite spices and snack on them as a low-fat, high-protein alternative to nuts! They store for up to 4 weeks at room temperature and much longer in the fridge.