Fruit and nuts bars are all the rage these days.
Really nothing new, variations of these snacks have been around since the 1970s when so-called “health food stores” popped up as a kind of counter-culture movement. At the time, there were legitimate concerns regarding world hunger and vegetarianism started to become mainstream.
Along with granola, soy grits, and tofu, dried fruit, seeds and fruit and nut bars became some of the go-to snacks. They certainly became popular with hikers who needed portable and non-perishable foods while on the trails.
No nonsense snacks that, if made with quality ingredients, provide quick great-tasting food energy along with a good dose of fiber, protein, phytonutrients, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin E, and the omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid.
As mentioned, fruit and nut bars are portable and travel well making them ideal for knapsacks, gym bags and purses [even the ‘murse’ or ‘manbag’].
The trouble with store-bought versions is that they can be quite pricey but with a little effort, a food processor, and simple ingredients, you can make your own homemade versions for a lot less.
Is dried fruit healthy?
A common question that needs to be somewhat qualified. In a word yes! They still have all the antioxidants and phytonutrients. Because they’ve been dehydrated and the water removed, their volume understandably shrinks. Same amount of sugar as the fresh fruit just packed into a smaller package.
So in that sense, it’s easier to overeat dried fruit and their sugar. So a little goes a long way. Fruit and nut bars pack a lot of carbs, fat, and sugar in a smaller serving so the serving sizes are small.
Homemade is so much better
Check out these simple instructions on how to create your own dried fruit and nut bars.
This recipe calls for cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, fig, apricots, dates, and raisins, but you can get creative and experiment with different nuts and dried fruits.
To up the nutrition, try adding a little ground flaxseeds or hemp seeds. If you find they don’t clump or stick together, add some extra dried fruit or a bit of water.
Homemade Fruit and Nut Bars
- 4 figs dried pitted (often found in the produce section)
- 4 apricots dried
- 4 dates dried
- 1/3 cup raw almonds
- 1/3 cup hazelnuts
- 1/3 cup cashews
- 1/4 cup raisins
- A food processor
Pour the pitted dates, apricots, figs, raw almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, and raisins into the food processor. Secure the lid.
- Process ingredients for about two minutes, or until they are chopped and mixed thoroughly. The fruit should appear smooth, yet you'll still be able to see bits of nuts. The mixture will look like firm cookie dough.
Alternatively, you could do the fruit and then the nuts second. Just be sure not to puree them, the fruit should be well blended and the nuts/seeds, a bit chunky, you don't want to make nut flour
- Tear off a 12 in. x 18 in. piece of plastic wrap and lay it flat on a counter or cutting board. Place the fruit and nut mixture in the center of the plastic wrap.
- Pull up the plastic on either side and begin to press it together to form one large bar, keeping the layer of plastic between your hands and the dough to prevent sticking. Squeeze the mixture firmly together — if it's loose, it'll fall apart when you try to eat it.
- You'll end up with a quarter-inch thick bar that's about 3 1/2 in. x 7 1/2 in. Alternatively, using water to wet your hands, pinch off small amounts of the mixture and roll into small balls if you prefer.
- Wrap the large bar tightly in the plastic. Place the bar flat in the freezer for an hour to harden slightly, which will make it easier to cut into bars.
- Remove the large bar from the freezer, unwrap it, and place on cutting board. Divide bar in half, and then cut each half into thirds, creating six bars total.