Vanilla Macaroon Raw Balls

vanilla coconut raw balls

Happy Passover to all you Jews out there. Or Pesach, as we say around here. Okay, not true, but if I was more religious maybe we would.

I have fond memories of the Passover Sedar from when I was a kid, my favorite parts being the food, namely charoset, the sweet apple, honey, walnut, and wine mash for spreading atop matzoh (or eating with a spoon like I always did), and macaroons. Not surprising given my sweet spot for sweets.

Though I’m quite non-practicing these days, I often feel nostalgic for my Jewish roots around holidays, so I thought about making some macaroons (these both look awesome) and was bummed to realize that we’re out of eggs. Since the idea of walking to the store with two kids on a blustery cold snowy (spring) day wasn’t very appealing, I had a very non religious revelation – raw macaroons!

vanilla macaroon ball close up

Since I’m on a raw bar/Lara bar kick lately, this seemed perfect. To make them more macaroon-y, I shaped them into balls and rolled some in extra shredded coconut, but you could also make the square from the Banana “Bread” bars and slice away.

My favorite part of this process today was the photographs, shockingly enough. Instead of Little Guy closing his finger in a drawer and Bunky pitching a fit, both kids happily chomped on the macaroons while I snapped pics. Pretty cool.

pink tower of balls

Vanilla Macaroon Raw Balls (or Bars)

Ingredients:

  • 1 full cup dates cut in half, soaked in some water to soften up (drain before adding)*
  • 1/3 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut (I used this finely shredded one, but any flake will work)
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • extra shredded coconut for rolling, if desired

Directions:

Grind the almonds and pecans in a food processor until the pieces are uniform in size and then set them aside in a bowl. Then process the dates, coconut, and vanilla. Put nut mixture back in and pulse everything together until the dough comes together.

Oh dear, I just wrote this sentence: You could totally play around with the nuts since I just used what I had in the house – until I realized how terrible that sounded. But I didn’t have the heart to delete it, ha. You know what I mean, though.

*If the mixture seems too dry – which can happen when you work with coconut, since it sucks up moisture like a sponge – add a few more dates, or even a teaspoon of coconut oil to soften things up.

Then pour out on a piece of parchment paper and either press into a square, or roll into balls. Use some extra shredded coconut flakes if you’d like to roll the balls around and make them look all pretty like these. Bunky and Little Guy prefer theirs plain, but I enjoy the extra coconut.

pink tower close up

Maybe all this holiday baking will reignite my non practicing Jewishness into something more substantial than just throwing around Yiddish words like Pesach and schmuck. Or not. I’ll keep you posted.

Either way, keep an eye out for another Passover inspired raw bar/ball recipe coming soon, this time I’ve got charoset as an inspiration… And don’t think I’ve forgotten about Easter. I mean, hello, chocolate?!

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!

gffbadgesmall_zpse392b4e3

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.

OneCreativeWeekendslightly_indulgent_tue

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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

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!

gffbadgesmall_zpse392b4e3

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.

OneCreativeWeekendslightly_indulgent_tue