Thursday, April 19, 2012

Raw, Vegan, Just-Like-Lara Bars

I am enjoying my week of living vegan and astonished at how much food we still have in our refrigerator, how few extra trips I've needed to take to the grocery store--none actually--and how great I feel. I thought I would be hungry all the time or shrivel up and die without animal protein. Perhaps that comes later? 

For now, I'm just savoring all of the new things I'm coming up with in the kitchen, especially these orange chocolate bars. They're the closest thing to Lara bars I've ever found outside of, well, an actual Lara bar. Simple. Cost effective. Vegan. What's not to love? 

Yields four four-ounce bars

1 cup walnuts
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons raw cacao powder (regular unsweetened cocoa powder is fine too if you don't care whether they're 100 percent raw)
3/4 cup fresh dates, pitted
1/4 cup raisins
1/8 teaspoon natural orange flavoring 

Pulse the walnuts, sea salt and cacao in a food processor until it resembles coarse sand. This is entirely a matter of preference. As you can see from my photo above, I left the mixture fairly chunky. 

Add the dates, raisins and orange flavoring and pulse until well combined. 

Remove the "dough" onto a cutting board and flatten into a square. Slice into four or five rectangular pieces. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to a week, or freeze for a month. 

Raw, Vegan Chocolate Truffles 

Yields 20 truffles 

If you're feeling fancy, cut each bar into five pieces and roll in additional cacao powder. The trick with these is to make sure you pulse the walnuts to a very fine crumb and blend in the dates very well. I ate about four of these last night on my way to yoga class and felt so guilty until I remembered there wasn't a pat of butter or cube of sugar in sight. Sweet bliss!

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