Sunday, April 3, 2011

Homemade "Larabars"

There is some sorta saying that necessity is the mother my case...creation. We have embarked, fairly recently, on a new diet for the whole family. We are now all grain free and sugar free along with the oldies but goodies of gluten free, dairy free, soy free. We are loosely following the GAPS diet. I also have some fermentation projects coming up that brings us into the Body Ecology diet world as well, but that is all for another post. Today I just want to share with you-all the fantastic new treat we are enjoying in our house. We have been eating Larabars for quite a while now. I would pack them for any road trip. The boys love them in their lunch boxes too. I eat one on the way to the gym every day for breakfast. They are so delicious and very simple. So simple in fact, that when our military commissary ran out of them for the last three weeks (I did have a small stockpile but we went through those), I was forced to take matters, literally, in my own hands. So I made "Larabars".

I can't take all the credit. Well, I can take all the credit for OUR bars, but not the whole recipe. I took bits and pieces from here and here. I researched nuts and the digestibility, or lack thereof, of nuts. The key to nuts, is to soak them. I read many places that "soaking the nuts neutralizes phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Phytic acid blocks absorption of minerals such as calcium and magnesium; enzyme inhibitors make nuts hard to digest." Nourished and Nurtured

So I set off to make my own bars. I am not particularly crafty or creative, but I love food. So I just thought about what sounded good and what was plausible to make. My first bar was a peanut butter bar. That one turned out so well that I thought cinnamon apples sounded so fruity and good. The final bar was blueberry and lemon. Each one was better than the last. The blueberry one was surprisingly light and sweet. Here is what I did:

I took several cups (probably 4 cups total) of almonds and pecans and let them soak with good water and a tablespoon or so of salt. After about 24 hours I rinsed and drained the nuts. I put them on a cookie sheet in a low oven with the door slightly open for about 4 hours. You can increase or decrease the time in the oven depending on your time table I think. I then took blueberries (organic from the freezer section) and peeled, chopped apple bits, and put them on a silpat on a cookie sheet in the same temperature oven as before. I topped the apples with cinnamon. I let the fruit dry for several hours until the texture was that of dried fruit (eye it). I put all the now dried nuts into the food processor. Don't grind the nuts too much or you will have nut butter.

Peanut Butter "Larabar"

2 cups nuts (prepared as stated above)
1/2 cup dates
1 cup organic peanut butter
pinch of good sea salt
honey if needed
put it all in the food processor. It may take a bit of time to get a nice texture and consistency. Oil your hands and mold the mixture into an even, flat mound. I put it on wax paper. Cut into bars. Refrigerate.

Cinnamon Apple Bar

1 Cup nuts
1 cup dates
1 cup dried apples
pinch of sea salt
pinch of added cinnamon
honey if needed
Same process as above.

Blueberry Lemon Bar

1 cup nuts
1 cup dates
1/2 cup or more dried blueberries
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon alcohol free vanilla
Same process as above.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Struggling in a new place

We have been living in Italy for over 8 months now. It has been one of the hardest things we have ever done, moving. It has taken me far longer to get adjusted and settled here than I ever thought it would. I am still experiencing firsts. I drove my daughter to school today, off base for the first time, alone. It only took me 8 months to get my driver's license and feel secure enough to drive. In the states, that would be unheard of. Here, I am surrounded by things within walking distance, and I have great friends who have been wonderful about driving.

It has taken me eight months to get settled, but it has taken Connor even longer. He does not do well with big changes. He doesn't voice his concern, but he shows it in his behavior. After Christmas, he had a pretty significant regression. He was completely pulled from his normal class, and put into a one on one learning situation. It was a short term fix, but a scary one too. I knew that he needed to either get back into the classroom, or be pulled full time and homeschool. This is his first week back, and so far so good. I am on high alert though. At any moment I know it might be the time to pull him and try something else. I have to do what is best for my child of course. Knowing what the best thing is, isn't always the easiest thing. He is happy again. That is all I can ever ask.

I have intentions of writing about living gluten free in Italy. I hope when things calm down here, I will have the chance to do that. It really is an amazing place full of extremes. The good things are amazing. The not so good things, are really not so good. It is just easy to live here gluten free. It is far easier to live here on our diet than anywhere I have been in the states. Once you know how to say gluten free in Italian, you are set! I walk into any restaurant in Italy and say "Senza Glutine" and they know what I mean. Refreshing...