Homemade Larabars (Grain-free Energy Bars)

Lara bars 1

Second day of school. I offer this rebuttal: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!

We’re making the leap from pie pans to lunchboxes. No biggie.

It’s really not so bad – fall is my favourite time of year. I get all nostalgic and organizational and back-to-school pumped, without the teenage angst. (I’ve managed to hang on to my teenage skin, however.) Besides, right now I’m poolside (OK, the inflatable in my mom’s back yard that’s mostly a watery grave for hundreds of bug carcasses), Coke slurpee in hand, and the car thermometer reads 34 degrees. It’s still summer, despite these 6 1/2 hour interruptions in the middle of the day. The difference is I’m back to paying attention, to catching up and clearing out and organizing and noting deadlines in red on my calendar. Schedules constrict, expectations rise and all that.

Aaaaaand I was just strafed by a sluggish wasp, who triggered me to grab madly for the bug zapper, upending my slurpee onto my laptop and into my shoe. Maybe I’m ready for summer to be over.

Date Collage

So. These bars. Meaty dates and toasted nuts. Pulse. Press. That’s it. Instant gratification.

lara bars 3

Ever since making that peach-mascarpone tart with the pat-in date-pecan crust, and seeing Shauna and Danny make date-hazelnut truffles with chocolate coconut ganache using a similar filling, using sticky dates to bind their innards together, I’ve wanted to play with the combo further. Turns out it’s essentially a Larabar – those energy bars made with dates and nuts and not much else. You can actually read -and understand- the ingredient list. But also? They don’t get much easier to make.

lara bars 4

lara bars 5

Google says similar bars have been made around these interwebs; some look too smooth and pasty to me, some too fruit-heavy, others made with raw cashews, which I wouldn’t choose over a toasted almond or pecan. (Or cashew, for that matter.) I began my experimentation with (roughly) equal parts pitted soft Medjool dates (you can find them in the produce section – those blocks of hardened ones in the baking aisle will give your processor too much of a workout) and toasted almonds and pecans (combined) along with a pinch of salt. Pulsed just enough to hold them together while maintaining a compelling texture and crunch. It worked swimmingly.

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So I got a little crazy. I added a handful of shredded coconut and a squeeze of lime. (I would have added the zest had I not left my rasp somewhere.) Voila – coconut-lime energy bars. Seriously.

lara bar Collage

Pulse, press, cut. Make fancy shapes if you want. Or little marble-sized bonbons. Go nuts.

Grain-free granola bars 1

I made a third batch, this time spiking it with a spoonful of cocoa, making it chocolate. The dates are sweet enough, but a dribble of honey made this version less crumbly. (There’s one hiding in the back, in a more chocolatey shade of brown.) I want to do these again with peanuts for a real-food version of an Eatmore bar. Without sugar! Just dates! Imagine! This may just preempt tomorrow’s to-do list.

Lara bars 2

Bonus: because they’re not baked, they don’t really go stale. You can wrap them individually and stash in a jar, or your glove compartment, or your desk. And if you really want to prolong their life, they could get stashed away in the freezer. And on mornings when you have no idea what you’re going to put into the lunchbox, a batch can be made in about as much time as it takes to pour a bowl of cereal. And then you’ll be that mom (or dad, or person, or kid) who makes their own energy bars.

One less thing.

Lara bars 1
Lara bars 1

Easy (Grain-free!) Date-Nut Energy Bars

Recipe link


September 4, 2013

  • Makes: Makes about 12 bars.


1 1/2 cups pitted Medjool dates (about 15 dates)

1 1/2 cups toasted whole almonds and pecan halves (any ratio - or try toasted hazelnuts or cashews)

pinch salt

optional add-ins

1/3 cup shredded coconut and a bit of grated lime zest and the juice of half a lime

2 Tbsp. cocoa, 1 Tbsp. honey and 1/3 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup dried cherries or blueberries and a drop of vanilla


1In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the dates, nuts and salt until well blended and coarsely ground - you should be able to squeeze it together in a clump. If you like, pulse or stir in any add-ins.

2Press into a parchment-lined 8x8-inch baking pan and let sit at room temperature or refrigerate until easier to cut into bars. (Alternatively, roll the mixture into small bite-sized balls.) Leave in the pan or wrap individually to store.

Makes: Makes about 12 bars.

About Julie

22 comments on “Homemade Larabars (Grain-free Energy Bars)

  1. kickpleat
    September 4, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Oh yes!! I’ve been wanting to make homemade lara bars for years now. I’m not sure why I haven’t tried to yet. Maybe you’re giving me the push I need to get going! My favourite lara bar flavour is one with lots of dried cherries, so I’ll try to replicate that version :) But I like how you think re: Eatmore bars. Oh yum!!!

  2. jack
    September 4, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    love this, will try them tomorrow, but to have at home only ~ i’ve been looking for nut-free snacks to take to school too, if you have some brilliant ideas on that front (and i’m sure you do!), would love to get some inspiration. our school, as are most, is nut free so we need to get creative.

    • Julie
      September 4, 2013 at 11:04 pm

      Yes we’re lucky – at our school there are no food allergies so we’re free to bring nuts, peanut butter sandwiches and all that good stuff! I’ll give them a try with pumpkin and sunflower seeds and see how they turn out! I also love using No Nuts golden pea butter, although I’m not sure how it would work in something like this…

  3. Sarah
    September 5, 2013 at 12:35 am

    I just whipped up a batch then,(a nice break from work) 10 mins later, with minimal clean-up I have a stash in the fridge for my afternoon cuppa. Thanks for your site, Julie, always so inspiring.

  4. Lily @ Life, Love, and Cupcakes
    September 5, 2013 at 7:05 am

    I love that you added coconut and lime…everything is better with lime! Now I just need to get a food processor so I can make these!

  5. Nicole Boyhouse
    September 5, 2013 at 11:22 am

    This is right up my alley! Bookmarking!

  6. CathyH
    September 5, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    I love this! Made your marscapone tart last weekend and everyone loved it! Going to CA soon where we visit this date farm. They make date milkshakes!


  7. DebbieG
    September 5, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Definitely going to try these, they look yum!

  8. Anonymous
    September 5, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Yes! These could not be easier!!! Will make them in batches in my teeny osker blender. Perfect for lunch boxes. Thanks Julie

  9. Rose
    September 5, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    Oops! That’s from me above….didn’t mean to be anonymous

  10. Bridgit
    September 6, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    The lime and coconut is pretty brilliant. I’ve added ginger and black pepper and its nice too.

  11. Sarah P
    September 7, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Our school is nut free, but my son loves these so I tried a version with sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. It worked, but you need to use a lot of seeds. I also added cocoa and a big tablespoon of No Nut butter to make it a good consistency.

  12. Cgymomof2
    September 7, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    OMG. I could get hooked on these! Made them today and just wanted to eat by the spoonful before I put it in the pan!!!!! Next onto your chocolate zucchini cake. :)

  13. Alaini
    September 7, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    Epic idea! Thanks so much for sharing!

  14. Aruna
    September 8, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Made these on Friday and rolled them into bite-size balls for a one-bite energy boost. Great!

  15. Gail
    September 8, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    I make something similar that is nut free. Use a mixture of 1 cup of seeds (I like to do 1/2 pumpkin & 1/2 sunflower) Toast seeds with 2 tsp of olive oil.
    1 cup of medjool dates, pitted, 2 pinches of salt and 1 &1/2 tbsp of water. They stick together good and are a great nut free version for those with allergies or those that can’t take the nuts to school.

  16. Laurie from Burnaby
    September 9, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Now I’ll be Laurie from Richmond, because I’ve moved for the first time in 30 years!
    These are excellent – no grains, so I’ll be able to eat them, and no sugar so Dave can eat them, too (he’s a type 1 diabetic)
    Thank you, Julie

  17. Christin
    September 9, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    I make the Weelicious Date-Nut balls and they’re basically this exact recipe but instead of adding the coconut to the mixture, you roll them in it. They’re amazing and my whole family loves them. Thanks for posting and sharing with everyone. They’re a great addition to anyone’s lunchbox.

  18. Tania
    September 10, 2013 at 6:36 am

    These look delicious! I’m definitely going to try them! What a great site you have.

  19. Cheryl
    September 10, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    I was just wondering if there is an easy way to print one of your recipes. When I hit the print button below a recipe, it wants to print the entire blog entry. In the case of this cake, it’s 14 pages. I was just wondering if I’m missing something. Thanks. Love your blog.

  20. aimee
    January 17, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    how many cal per bar?

  21. Keith Borgnet
    January 22, 2014 at 5:53 am

    Awesome, just what i need for that little extra during the day – thank you :)

    @ aimee Don’t worry too much about the cals – it’s all natural and digestable… are you going to eat it all at once? 😉

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