Chewy Vanilla Cherry Almond Bars

Don’t you hate when you find something you love on Pinterest, then forget to pin it? Well, I found a recipe for some chewy energy bars a while back that had dried cherries in them and apparently I forgot to pin the recipe. I have looked all over for it, but decided to just search “dried cherries” on Pinterest. I did not find what I was looking for but I found something better – almonds, dried cherries, and dates. I love cherries and dried cherries are no different. I also happen to love dates, but I find they are too sweet to eat by themselves. This is a wonderful way to cut the sweetness and still get some yummy dates in my diet.

The recipe was found at Creative Juices for Decor and she says they are a homemade version of Cherry Pie LaraBars. I’ve personally never eaten a Lara Bar, as I normally don’t buy into diet foods and prepackaged anything. Apparently this is a pretty wholesome brand, but nothing beats homemade and they are cheaper from scratch if you’ve got time to make them. I changed the recipe up by adding one ingredient: vanilla bean paste.

Ingredient List:

  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 cup dried pitted cherries
  • 1 cup dates, pitted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)

Almonds, dried sweet cherries (no sugar added), and Medjool dates.

Dried sweet cherries – found in the bulk section, prepacked so I bought a few.

Medjool dates, found in the bulk section.

The first thing you’ll want to do is chop the almonds if you bought whole ones. The recipe says to chop them in the food processor but that is quite frankly too much noise for me, so I hand chopped them in a mini chopper.

Chopped almonds using my mini food chopper. I love this thing!

You’ll also want to pit the dates. I will admit that I did not even think about pitting mine (I’ve even eaten these things before!) and didn’t realize it until I turned the food processor on with the cherries and dates inside. Turns out that is a very handy way to pit the things, though! With a few good pulses I was able to pick all of the pits out and continue on my way to “energy” bar bliss. 🙂

Cherries and whole dates in the food processor – 1 cup of each.

The cherries and dates will form a ball, more or less.

Once you mix the cherries and dates really well, the recipe says to transfer the fruit mixture into a mixer with the almonds. I do not own a Kitchen Aid mixer and my hand mixer was probably not interested in this project. I put the fruit mixture in a large glass bowl, then I added in the chopped almonds and the vanilla bean paste.

Fruit mixture, chopped almonds, and vanilla bean paste.

Instead of using a mixer, I just started by chopping it all together with a wooden spoon. This was not an exact science and it didn’t need to look pretty. I’m not sharing. 😛

Fruit mixture combined with nuts and vanilla.

After I got it chopped really well, I used my hands to knead the rest of the almonds in. Then I put the mixture on a piece of wax paper and placed another piece on top so I could spread it out. For some reason I also do not own a rolling pin (ikr?) so I just used my hands to press the mixture out between the wax paper. I used the bottom of one of the mixing cups to flatten it.

Mixture in between two pieces of wax paper to spread it out.

This is the first spread of fruit mixture.

I used a pizza cutter to cut the bars into rectangles. Again, I’ve never eaten a LaraBar so I don’t know the accurate size. Mine were not all uniform and I got 7 bars out of it.

First cut of bars and remaining mixture.

I just cut the rectangles and then re-rolled the mixture to cut it again. It was pretty easy to do and didn’t take long at all.

I stored mine in between wax paper layers in a glass pan with a lid.

Notice my hideous cutting skills!

I was extremely impressed with these bars! I am now interested in trying various flavors because it’s a great snack and they don’t take long. These cost approximately $10 to make, and that is an exaggerated amount because I am too lazy to do the real math on the cost. They taste great and I am glad I added the vanilla in. I am storing them in the refrigerator and I am trying my best not to eat them all tonight. Seriously delicious! 🙂

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Avocado Pasta

I promise that I am going to pin some recipes that don’t use avocados, but they are so delicious and it’s that time of year. My best friend, Olga, came to visit for the weekend and it’s the first time we spent a few days together in about 3 years! We had a wonderful weekend of eating & crafting. She had the idea that we make some avocado pasta that she saw on Pinterest, and naturally I agreed! We used a recipe from Avocado.org and it didn’t take 10 minutes to make the whole meal.

I started with olive oil, lime juice (of course I didn’t have lemons), 2 cloves of garlic, and some coarse salt. I added 2 avocados, some oregano & basil, and black pepper and pulsed it in the food processor until it was creamy.

I tossed mine with some cappellini and topped it with some Parmesan cheese.

There isn’t a single thing I would change about the way I made this, except use fresh herbs. I didn’t have any and we weren’t going to the store so I used dried herbs.

This is by far one of the most amazing recipes I’ve found on Pinterest. I was so surprised at how well it came out and I will be making this for years to come! The avocados take on the taste of the garlic and olive oil very well and it tastes so wonderful you wouldn’t expect it to be green. It was a lot like pesto, only with avocados. Amazing!!

Fresh Spinach and Cherry Salad with Quinoa

My favorite fruits are stone fruits: peaches, cherries, and almonds. (Yeah, it’s a nut and a fruit. *giggle*) I don’t care much for maraschino cherries, but I love fresh cherries and can never find enough uses for them in the summer. I’m typically not a salad fan, but fresh spinach is delicious, healthy, and a great substitute for boring lettuce. I found the inspiration for my dinner this evening at Time at the TableI pinned it a week or so ago and have been waiting to try it out. This recipe calls for kale, but I didn’t have any and I’m not a huge fan of it yet. I also didn’t have the orange juice this recipe called for so I used lemon juice instead, and I substituted Parmesan cheese for Gorgonzola. It would be great even without cheese!

Now, I made a few other adjustments – some out of necessity, others just for health/fun/taste. I had some quinoa cooked in coconut milk that I wanted to use so I put in about 1/3 cup of that. I also added cinnamon to my dressing for extra flavor. The cherries were a bit tart but the maple syrup from the dressing definitely made up for it! You’ll notice some chunks of carrot in there, as well. The taste of cherries and carrots together was surprisingly refreshing. This was a delicious salad and definitely worth the time spent halving and pitting the cherries! (Maybe an extra 5-10 minutes, but tedious.) I am thrilled that I saw this recipe because I’d otherwise be noshing away on my cherries as a snack – this was definitely better. Vegetarian, healthy, and tasty!