LaraBar

LaraBar Logo

LaraBars are my go-to snack for when I’m not up to baking something and I want a healthy way to satisfy my sweet tooth.  I’ve been eating them for several years, and now they’re basically a staple in my diet.  I think it’s amazing how so few ingredients (dates, nut, fruit, and spices) can be combined in various ways to create so many different and delicious bars.  I went on a quest to try every flavor, and here is a ranking that I compiled (with Peanut Butter Cookie as my current favorite):

  • Peanut Butter Cookie
  • Key Lime Pie
  • Pecan Pie
  • Banana Cookie
  • Coconut Cream Pie
  • Lemon Bar
  • Apple Pie
  • Chocolate Coconut Chew
  • Cinnamon Roll
  • Ginger Snap
  • Cherry Pie
  • Pistachio
  • Cocoa Mole
  • Cashew Cookie

I should probably mention that my favorite flavor has changed several times.  For years I liked Lemon Bar the best, but after Key Lime Pie was introduced it became my new favorite.  Cashew Cookie is the only flavor that I actually dislike, so I usually cycle through the other available flavors for variety.  I think the new flavors seem to be continually improving, since the newest bars (Peanut Butter Cookie and Coconut Cream Pie) are fabulous.
I know that some people don’t like the fact that LaraBars aren’t organic, but they are vegan, gluten-free, kosher, and non-GMO, so I don’t really mind. LaraBars can be kind of expensive, so it’s a good idea to shop around at your local stores to see who has the best price (at the stores that are within walking distance from my apartment, the bars are sold for $1.29, $1.35, $1.99, and $2.19).  I was a little bummed out when the company was sold to General Mills last year, but I still absolutely love the bars.   If you have a chance to try some, I doubt you’ll be disappointed!

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January 25, 2009. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

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The first vegan cookbook I ever owned was The Complete Vegan Cookbook, by Susan Geiskopf-Hadler and Mindy Toomay, which I received as a birthday gift when I turned 18.  Although I’ve had the book for years now, the only recipe I’ve ever made is “Jessica’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.”  The recipe uses applesauce instead of any oil/margarine, so it’s relatively good for you (as much as Chocolate Chip Cookies can be).  It’s probably lucky that this was the only vegan cookbook I had around during high school, because I ended up making this recipe all the time (sometime multiple batches a week).  Now that I’ve broadened my vegan cooking/baking horizons, I’ve found cookie recipes that I like more, but this is still my go-to recipe when I want to satisfy my sweet tooth with minimal effort.
Here are a few suggestions based on my years of making this recipe:
The dough is very stiff, so the cookies spread very little (virtually not at all) in the oven.  The finished cookies will look much more attractive if you make the raw cookie dough balls in the shape that you want the cookies to end up.
Baking the cookies for the right amount of time is crucial – too long and the cookies end up dry and rock-like; too short and the cookies will be gummy in the center.  I realize that this doesn’t sound like a particularly favorable sales pitch, and in all honesty I probably wouldn’t use this recipe to try to win over any omnis to vegan baked goods, but I really do love this cookie recipe.
The recipe instructions advise stirring the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl before adding them, but I don’t like using extra bowls, so usually just add them on top of the wet ingredients.
Some other observations I’ve made are that the cookies are best when they’re warm out of the oven, and that I prefer a lower chip-to-cookie than given in the recipe.  I’ve tried using various sugars (turbinado, rapadura, brown sugar, etc.) and I’ve always been pleased with the results.  I’ve also found that I like the cookies better when they’re made with whole white wheat flour instead of all-purpose, since the cookies already have a sort of health-food taste anyways, and using whole white wheat flour makes the end result taste almost like oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  I also like to experiment with various additions, from shredded coconut to oats to nuts, and aside from occasionally needing to add a little bit of non-dairy milk to the dough to balance out the extra ingredients, I’ve never had to make any major adjustments.  Here is my favorite variation on the original recipe!

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“Healthy” Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies
Adapted from “Jessica’s Chocolate Chip Cookies”
Yield: 1 dozen

2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup whole white wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
a dash of cinnamon
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, applesauce and vanilla.  Add the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon, and stir to combine.  Fold chocolate chips and coconut into dough.

Scoop dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet and flatten slightly (I use a size 40 cookie scoop, one of my favorite kitchen gadgets, which portions 1 ½ tablespoons of dough).

Bake for 11-13 minutes until lightly browned.

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For anyone who wants the original recipe but doesn’t own The Complete Vegan Cookbook, you can “Look Inside” on Amazon and find the cookies on pg. 278.

January 15, 2009. Cookies. 4 comments.

Orange Poppy Seed Muffins

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This is my absolute favorite muffin recipe!  It is quick, easy, and delicious.  I know lemon poppy seed is the norm, but I hate squeezing/zesting lemons whereas orange juice is always easy to find and use.  Plus, since oranges are so much sweeter, you can use way less sugar in the recipe and still have wonderful results.  If you want to be fancy, you could definitely use fresh-squeezed oranges and add some zest, but I think the muffins are fabulous just with store-bought orange juice.  This recipe also works great with whole wheat flour; I frequently use whole white wheat flour for some of all of the flour in the recipe, with no noticeable loss of deliciousness!  This muffin recipe is also omni-approved, since I was whole-heartedly assured by my family members that “even normal people would like them!” (they meant it as a compliment).  I hope you like them too!

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Orange Poppy Seed Muffins
Yield: 1 dozen

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup oat milk (or substitute your favorite non-dairy milk)
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed meal
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon poppy seeds (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a liquid measuring cup (to save on dishes), measure the orange juice and oat milk, then add flaxseed meal, applesauce, and vanilla.

Make a well in the dry ingredients, add liquid, and stir to combine.  Fold poppy seeds into batter.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups (I use my 1/3 cup measuring cup, but your muffin pan might be slightly different).

Bake for about 15 minutes and allow the muffins to cool before removing them from tin.

January 5, 2009. Muffins. 17 comments.

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