April 24, 2013

Homemade Lemon Poppy Seed Lärabars!

Spring is such an emotional rollercoaster. One day you're picking crocuses in the sunshine and the next morning you wake up to a winter wonderland. I think it's safe to say we've finally crossed into the gentler, greener part of spring! Honestly, what got me through it this year is kitties and lemons.  Yup.


Because on those days when we were slammed with yet another snow dump, the kitties were either cozied up by the woodstove, or meditating in the snow, taking it all in stride. And really, isn't that the best way to await spring's arrival? The kitties know.


As for lemons. If you can't have sunshine, I suppose they might be the next best thing. I'm not usually one to obsess over lemons, really. But without planning it that way, April has been the month of lemons. There was the Easter bread with candied lemon peels, and then the lemon polenta cake, and now, these lemon poppy seed bars which are blowing my mind. 



Have you ever had a Lärabar? They're a deliciously nutritious little snack with a very short ingredient list (usually a good thing in the world of packaged foods). I have been a longtime fan. But last year, they let me down big time. You see those seemingly innocent little bars of delight are owned by General Mills which donated a whopping $1.2 million to defeat Proposition 37 in California (the GMO labeling initiative). It makes me mad. Think of all the things $1.2 million could do in this world!! Instead, they wasted it on TV ads to scare Californians into believing they don't have the right to know if their food is genetically modified or not. And now that several other states are also about to vote on GMO labelling initiatives, it would be very nice if these big companies would back-off and realize that people do have a basic right to know what is in their food. So I've decided to join the Lärabar boycott (along with boycotting a bunch of other companies that fought against peoples' right to know in California... including Kellogg's, Coca Cola, see the full list here).

Well it turns out boycotts are pretty fun. Especially when you have to learn how to make your own delicious snacks!

 

I decided to try my hand at a lemon poppy seed bar. I was expecting deliciousness, to be sure. (How can you go wrong with dried fruit and nuts all mashed up together?) But I wasn't expecting to blow my own socks off! These bars are gooey and oozing with flavor. They are a perfect hiking, traveling, lunching, breakfast, anytime and anything snack. Trust me, and try them out. They take minutes to make. No baking. No fuss. Here's how you do it.
 
LEMON POPPY SEED SNACK BARS

2 cups raw cashews
1 cup golden raisins (these are a pale yellow colour) *
1 cup chopped dried apricots (get the brown, unsulfured kind, they are so much better!) 
 Grated rind from 2 whole organic lemons 
1 to 2 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice (start with 1 tbsp, add another if the mix is not too wet)
1/3 cup poppy seeds

Put all the ingredients in the food processor, except the poppy seeds and about 1 teaspoon of the grated lemon rind. Put these aside for the topping. Process the other ingredients for a while, until the whole thing has turned into a very thick paste. You may still have small chunks of cashews depending on how strong your food processor is and that's ok, but the raisins and apricots should be well-mashed into each other. If the mix is too dry, add the second tablespoon of lemon juice, a little at a time. 

Transfer to a mixing bowl and with your hands, knead about 1/2 of the poppy seeds into the fruit and cashew paste.  In a little bowl, mix the remaining poppy seeds with the reserved teaspoon of grated lemon rind.

Line the bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan with wax paper. Press the fruit paste down into the pan evenly. Sprinkle with the poppy seed and grated lemon rind mixture. Refrigerate for about 2 hours and then slice into bars or squares. You can wrap these individually in a little wax paper if you like. They will keep in the fridge for several weeks.

*After I posted this recipe, a reader kindly informed me in the comments section that golden raisins are just regular raisins treated with sulfur dioxide to prevent them from darkening. I didn't know that and will probably want to avoid them in the future - I'm going to experiment with only apricots and also with unsulfured dried pineapple. I'm trying to stick to light colours to keep a yellowish lemony colour to the bars, although that is purely aesthetic (If anyone has other suggestions about good substitutes, I'd love to hear them, please leave a comment bellow :-)


18 comments:

  1. hello aubergine! new design of the site looks so good ^^ love.

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    1. thanks for noticing! it was fun to do the re-design! would have loved to do more but i'm not very design and html savvy so one little bit at a time :-)

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  2. I don't like poppy seeds , in Poland we have cake called "makowiec". It's served during the Christmas time. I'll try your recipe.
    Greetings
    Anuszka

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    1. Hi Anuszka, you could always leave out the poppy seeds altogether. I tasted the mixture before adding the poppy seeds and it was just as delicious without them :-)

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  3. Beautiful new web design Aube and I just adore that photo of Luna! These seem so incredibly easy to make - even I could do it...xox

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    1. Thanks Pam! I love that photo of Luna too, she was so peaceful just zenning out in the snow! I believe that is the morning you said to look on the bright side of the snowfall and to get out there and take some photos :-) Hope you try the Larabars!

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  4. I've never had a Larabar but these look great! The GMO failing to pass in California makes me so mad, I can't even think about it. I feel like that was our big chance, and I'm afraid the labeling will never happen now. Boycotting is a great idea!

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    1. Hi Sherri, thanks for stopping by! :-) And don't despair about GMO labelling, for the first time since 2000, a federal initiative has just been introduced to label GMOs - the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act was introduced in both the Senate and the House just a few days ago and here is a petition to sign to encourage more Senators to endorse the bill: http://bit.ly/11V1zRb ... Plus! Over 21 states have introduced GMO labelling initiatives this year alone... so I think it's only a matter of time before we see labelling. We just have to keep fighting for it and making our voice heard loud and clear.

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  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  6. I love your pictures and recipes. I'd like to inform you of a great new website www.foodieportal.com. I would like to invite you to come and join us and share your wonderful pictures with us. We are simply foodies and we are not photography snobs, so picture perfection is not important, all we care about is delicious food.

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  7. These look beautiful. I love the addition of poppyseeds which I love!

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  8. Golden raisins are treated with sulphur dioxide to prevent them from darkening.

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    1. Very good to know, thanks so much for letting me know about that, I had no idea!! I just thought they were from a pale grape variety... I will try to find a sub for this recipe because I'd much rather use unsulfured fruits. I chose the golden raisins because I wanted to preserve a yellowish lemony colour in the bars, but I'm going to try a few other options... I love that I learn new things all the time from doing this blog :-)

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    2. I would eat them either way. They sound delicious!

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  9. Making these this weekend!

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  10. Hi! Thanks so much for this recipe, the bars look delicious and I love your photography! I was wondering, what would you suggest as the best substitute for cashews (I'm sadly allergic to them)? Very best!

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    1. Hi there, I would recommend almonds (macadamia nuts would also work great!) though they are a bit harder and less oily than cashews so you might need to add a teaspoon more of lemon juice to moisten the mix. Let me know how they turn out!

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    2. Hi! Thank you so much, I'm going to make them on the weekend so I'll let you know how it all turns out! Might add a few brazil nuts and see if that helps to keep the mixture moist.

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