Gluten Free Banana “Bread” Lara Bars

banana bread bar friends

It’s been a rough week here, at least on the domestic front. Um, wait, that’s really the only front for me.

On Monday we took Bunky to the doctor where she tested positive for strep and the whole family got a turn getting swab sticks jammed down their throat (fun!). Luckily the rest of us were in the clear, but man, is that test awful! I think there’s something to be said about (occasionally) having the same stuff done as your kid because the empathy really flows. Like when I got the whooping cough vaccine while pregnant with Little Guy and my arm ached for days. Too often, I think we encourage kids not to dwell on the (many) hurts that they have to endure throughout their childhood, mainly for our benefit (re: less whining) but the truth hurts, literally, and sometimes it’s good to be reminded of that.

So this meant no school Monday or Tuesday. Little Guy has never watched so much TV in all his short life and he was pretty thrilled. Which just means I’ll have two kids screaming for more shows soon enough. Sigh.

We tried sending her to school on Wednesday, but a few hours later I got a call from the school nurse (the first of many, I’m sure) saying she threw up. Poor kid! Maybe it was the antibiotic, but it could have been a stomach bug because she was a total wreck all day. Thank goodness she’s feeling better today, though she’s still at home recovering, i.e. watching more movies.

Speaking of which, have you seen the Lalaloopsy characters? Totally creepy button eyes, but Bunky loves them. At least they’re not mean like the Strawberry Shortcake girls, or vapid like those awful My Little Ponies, sheesh.

lalaloopsy doll

In between shows and vomiting and snuggling, I managed to make these Banana “Bread” Lara Bar knock offs. And take pictures, though that didn’t go as smoothly since Little Guy got his finger caught in a drawer during my “photo shoot” and Bunky pitched a mini fit because I made her turn on all the lights (her dolls were napping).

But somehow I did it. Because I need these bars. You need these bars. They are easy to make and super healthy, which makes their addictive quality totally acceptable. I made mine without chocolate chips because Little Guy loves them too, but feel free to mix them in at the end, at the last pulse, or stick them on top like I do when he’s not looking.

banana bread bar stack

Banana “Bread” Lara Bars


  • 1 cup of dates cut in half, soaked in some water to soften up (drain before adding)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 cup freeze dried banana*
  • 1 + 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 ripe banana, mashed
  • dash or two of cinnamon

* If you don’t have freeze dried banana, which crumbles quite easily and is so so sweet without ANY additional ingredients, either sub in another 1/2 of a real banana, or 1 cup of banana chips.

dates and nuts


Normally, when making raw bars like these delicious Cookie Dough ones, I’d throw everything in my food processor and zippity zap. But this time I decided to process each ingredient separately, partly because I really wanted to avoid making accidental walnut butter. Let’s just say there is a reason why they don’t sell walnut butter in stores along with every other nut. It’s gross. Poor walnuts, sad but true. Also, I need to make the nut pieces VERY small so Little Guy doesn’t choke. He loves these bars as much as I do. Maybe more.

After processing each ingredient separately (except for the 1/2 banana, which I smushed with a fork in a bowl) I put them all in the food processor together and pulsed briefly until the dough came together in a ball.

Everything processed separately and in their own bowls before blending together.

Everything processed separately and in their own bowls before blending together.

It would probably be fine to do it this way, too: Process dates (drain water first), nuts, and dried banana together until pieces are uniform and dough starts to come together. Add vanilla extract, smushed banana, and cinnamon. Pulse until it combines into a ball of dough. I’ll probably do it this way next time so I don’t dirty so many dishes.

Then turn out the dough blob onto a piece of parchment paper. Using another piece of parchment, push down on the dough and form it into a shape, like a square.

dough square

Put it in the freezer for an hour or more to chill. Then cut into pieces, or just dig in with a fork. You can also roll the dough into balls and chill that way, too. This makes a great breakfast or snack. They get mushy at room temperature, so store in the freezer.

banana bread bars

Here’s hoping Bunky makes it to school tomorrow. Next week is spring break and I’ll have another week with two kids. I really don’t know how we’re going to make it through the summer. Am I a parenting wimp or what?!

I’m happy to have shared this post at the Gluten-Free Friday’s link up party hosted by Vegetarian Mamma. Click the link to find more great GF recipes!


It’s also posted on One Creative Weekend, hosted by One Creative Mommyand Simply Sugar and Gluten Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays. * Please note, that the recipes on these two link-ups will NOT all be gluten free, so be sure to read carefully.


40 thoughts on “Gluten Free Banana “Bread” Lara Bars

  1. Pingback: Entertain and Educate Yourself Thursday: Links | Lifeducation, one stop for...

  2. Hope the little one is better. For a moment there I was going to ask you what a Lara bar was, then I realized…The processed energy bars from the store? What ever inspired, I am sure these are at east a 100x better.

    • Thanks Janet, she is, fortunately! Funny about the Lara Bar confusion. I used that term because that’s what people seem to refer to these raw bars as, but maybe next time I’ll skip it. They are definitely better, in my not so humble opinion 🙂

  3. I hope Bunky is feeling better soon! I had tried a similar recipe using banana chips, but I didn’t think to add a smushed ripe banana.
    And you’re not a whimp. Just make sure you have some yummy things ready for the week. I am finding it harder to keep up with the meal and snack demands every week, but I have found when I can keep up that it helps me keep a bit more sane during the week.
    I also love the fancy wrapper you used in the photo! So pretty! 🙂

    • Thanks Amy! She’s much better today, which is a relief to all of us.

      I didn’t intend to add the actual banana half, but after mixing up all the ingredients the dough was a bit too dry – probably because of the dried banana, so adding the mushed half helped moisten it up.

      Fortunately, we’ll be going out of town as a family next week so I won’t be totally solo-parenting, phew!

      And thanks for the fancy wrapper shout-out! I totally stole Bunky’s ribbon for that and she was not pleased. Oops.

  4. I feel for you…sick kiddos, solo parenting, photo shoots…there’s only so much a girl can handle, and you posted a recipe too. Very admirable! They look super yummy, and I must add beautiful presentation and amazing photography (I’m still working on those things). As for the tv thing don’t worry about it. They learn from it…hahaha..funny story I decided to encourage my girls to tune into the Nature Channel or the Food Network (they actually love that one) instead of the sassy shows that promote bad behavior (trust me you will get there)…and when I happened to be telling another mother about my great parenting skills in this area (in front of my 7 and 8 year old girls), they proceeded to blow my cover and tell me and the other mother about the latest show they watched – Pitbulls and Paroles….yes great moment…obviously I should maybe check on them now and again…oops 🙂

    • Aw, thanks Jenny! You made me feel like a rock star 🙂 Except for the part about my baby getting his finger jammed, I did feel pretty pleased with the whole operation, ha.

      I love the idea about the Food Network and Nature Channel! If we ever get cable again (we use Netflix now) I will be all over that. I totally see how the bad behavior thing comes out in shows. Most of the girls on Strawberry Shortcake are so sassy and mean, I hate it! Oh, and it’s only the beginning, I know. Sigh.

      Hilarious about Pitbulls and Paroles!

  5. These look so good Dana. We are traveling to the East Coast in a couple of days and hopefully I’ll have time to whip up a batch! None of the existing bars on the market fit our needs with all the various allergies and restrictions in the family. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Loving the taking of the photos….that is my life every day with my 2 youngest 😉 “Don’t touch that! Get back here!” Thankfully I can still buy my toddler off with Thomas the Engine or Bob the Builder!

  7. Pingback: Vanilla Macaroon Raw Balls | celiac kiddo

  8. These are the perfect combo: cute and tasty! YUM!! Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays party! I have tweeted and pinned your entry to our Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! 🙂

    Thanks for linking back to the Gluten Free Fridays post!

    Party starts tomorrow at 7:05 pm eastern time! Hope to see you there!

    Cindy from

  9. Pingback: Strawberry Banana Split Balls | celiac kiddo

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  11. Yum!

    Well, let me tell you, the day we broke the iPAD SEAL (in an airplane, of course) was a dark day in my world. The single most common question from Theo now is “Can I play iPAD?” X 100. GAH!!!

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