Not too shortly after Den and I were married, I started searching out healthier ways of eating. We were living in Ukraine and Denys was trying hard to get his bilirubin levels down, which is often affected by a poor diet. This wasn’t something new for him. High bilirubin levels showed up often since he was born, but as a new wife I was concerned about his health.
After a lot of our own research and a number of treatments he did in their hospitals (medicine over there is much different), we finally had a good guess that the cause was Gilbert’s Syndrome (later confirmed by doctors here). This just means that Denys was born with a gene mutation making it hard for his liver to process bilirubin. It’s harmless, although it does have it’s side effects. I can almost always tell when Denys hasn’t been sleeping, eating, drinking, or exercising enough. Why? He becomes yellow.
Anyway, I tell this story because one of the healthy things that I learned to make in Ukraine were these little fruit-nut-date balls. I had never eaten a date before in my life, but instantly loved them. It’s like mushy gooey sugar candy, only in a natural form. Good and good for you! Then moving back here, I discovered Lara Bars, where the #1 ingredient is usually dates. How convenient! But convenience as always come with a cost. So why not share with you all some ways that you can make your own.
Pinterest is full of recipes and ideas for all types of bars/balls. However, I say you don’t even really need a recipe! Just like a smoothie, there are so many different combinations that you can make depending on your own likes and dislikes. The most important part is to just know the basics.
I made these last night in the dark, so I didn’t get any pictures of the process, but hopefully the pictures here give you somewhat of an idea. The base of your bars is going to be:
- 1 cup of SOFT dates – you will need to pit them if they aren’t already pitted. The ones I used last night were slightly dry inside, which is not how they should be. Dates are usually mushy and moist.
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 cup of nuts or dried fruit (or a combination of both)
- 1 tablespoon of nut butter (optional)
You can also add cocoa powder (about 2 tablespoons) or a scoop of chocolate protein powder. When I use cocoa powder, I swear they taste just like a gooey brownie. In the ones pictured here, I used 1 scoop of protein powder and added a 1/2 of a banana mashed up. The smallest amount of banana can add a lot of moisture and flavor to the mixture.
In order to make the bars, it’s really quite simple. Mash, chop, and mix it all together. Make sure your hands are clean and just squish it all together. If you have a food processor, I imagine that could work too. You can roll them in balls or cut them into squares like I did here. They will be sticky on the outside, so I like to coat them with the following:
- coconut flakes
- OR sesame seeds
In Ukraine, I always mixed the dates with walnuts, dried apricots, and a little banana with sesame seeds on the outside. Den would snack on them during the day and I slept well at night knowing that at least something “healthy-ish” was going into his body. This kind of success was not the case though when I tried to make a “raw” soup. That just turned out nasty and I pretty much gave up on raw eating at that point. We have managed to find other healthy ways of eating, thankfully.
My last tip would be to package them well and store them in the fridge. These little bars make an excellent pre-run snack or on the go treat. Not to mention the endless varieties you can make while saving money. Need ideas? Just look at the list of ingredients on a Lara Bar. I still buy them now and again for the convenience and absolutely love the Cashew Cookie one.
Let me know if you try it out! Or maybe you already have. Tell me all about it down below!