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it’s okay to change your mind

Recipe: homemade blueberry muffin lärabars

You may recall how I declared in a previous post that cherry pie was my favorite LÄRABAR flavor. I was prompted to try making them myself after picking my jaw up from the floor at Whole Foods when they rang me up for a dozen LÄRABARs. They carry a large assortment of flavors and I wanted to pack some with Jeremy for his meeting in South Africa back in February. It has become a routine to carry portable food with us since our graduate school days of cancelled flights and being stranded in airports when nothing is open.

cashews, dates, dried blueberries, lemon, vanilla bean

process the dried blueberries

One of the new flavors I tried was blueberry muffin. It has a bright and buttery flavor compared to the deep earthiness of the cherry pie LÄRABAR. I flipped the wrapper over and looked at the ingredients. Again – the beauty of the LÄRABAR is the simplicity of its components. I had everything on hand and set about replicating it. You may or may not encounter this, but when I ran the dried blueberries through my food processor, it looked like nothing happened to them. If you pick one up, you’ll see it is full of cuts, but still resembles an intact dried blueberry. No problem.

from the food processor: dried blueberries, cashews, dates

grate some lemon zest

scrape the seeds from half a vanilla bean

If you are tempted to skip the lemon zest or the vanilla bean seeds, please don’t. I think these give such a nice depth of flavor to the mix. Without them, the bar would taste somewhat flat. Trust me, they make a huge difference. And before you ask (I know someone is going to ask, because no one reads the posts…), I wouldn’t recommend vanilla extract as a substitute because it’s a liquid rather than a sticky paste, and the flavor is different. Just get the damn vanilla bean. I buy mine organic and in bulk from here.

mix together

press into a pan

This recipe was a smidge easier to mix together than the cherry pie recipe. And it smelled fantastic. I pinched off a little to taste and was surprised at how much it resembled an actual blueberry muffin. I liked it. I liked it a lot. More than the cherry pie. I was alone in the kitchen (well, except for Kaweah who was keenly interested in my activities) and looked around. “This is my new favorite!” I shouted, waving the little sample in the air. I decided against cutting them to the same size as the commercial LÄRABAR because it left me with odd pieces and well – it’s just stupid. I cut mine into ten equal pieces from a 8.5×8.5-inch square. Duh.

cut into bars

berry, nutty, fruity goodness

There is no reason why you can’t make these into balls or cubes or sticks or logs. We tend to prefer bars because they pack efficiently in our pockets, backpacks, or luggage, and they are easier to eat than cubes or balls. And because we love to eat them at home, we already knew they would be golden in the backcountry (you never want to take food that no one wants to eat – that’s just carrying dead weight). Perfect boost of energy and delicious too!

jeremy happily fuels up on a backcountry ski

Homemade Blueberry Muffin LÄRABARs
[print recipe]
based on the LÄRABAR site

1 cup dried blueberries
1 cup dates, pitted (use Medjools over Deglets – they bind better)
2 cups cashews
1 lemon, grated zest of
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds of

Chop the blueberries in a food processor. I would say until they become a semi-paste, but mine never got to that state. If you whirl them around for a bit and nothing seems to change, stop the processor and examine one of the berries – if it is cut up in several places, it should be ready and will combine easily when mixed. Place the blueberries in a large mixing bowl. Chop the dates in the food processor until gooey and scrape those into the mixing bowl with the blueberries. Chop the cashews in the food processor until they resemble coarse crumbs. Empty the cashews into the mixing bowl. Add the grated lemon zest and the vanilla bean seeds to the fruits and nuts. Mix thoroughly by hand (knead it if you have to) and press into an 8 or 9-inch baking pan to about 1/2-inch thickness. Refrigerate for 30 minutes then turn the square out onto a cutting board. Slice to desired size and shape. Makes 10 1.7 x 4.25-inch bars.

56 nibbles at “it’s okay to change your mind”

  1. Emma says:

    I said to myself that I’d make the last LÄRABAR you made (I forgot) but I’ll definitely make this one – blueberry muffin = heaven! And I read all of your posts – no skimming here!! (May I re-blog this recipe?)

  2. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    Umm…yes please!! These sound lovely.

  3. Caitlin says:

    Scout’s honor, I read the posts every time. But can you sub in vanilla extract? ;)

  4. Erin says:

    I adapted your cherry pie recipe to use chocolate and hazelnut (which was good.) However this one sounds even better, I love blueberries and can’t wait to try it!

  5. Melissa says:

    Picturing you alone in your bright kitchen, yelling about your new favorite to no one but the dog. *Snert*

    You and my friend Rebecca both do homemade Lara bars and I feel I do need to make them soon, as much as I work out these days. I’ve only done granola bars, but those are fat and calorie bombs compared to this pure fruit and nut fuel.

  6. Kel says:

    Love this! I also read the posts — as I love the pictures throughout. I will be making these soon.

  7. Theresa says:

    You’ve gotten me hooked on making homemade bars. After recreating my favorite KIND bars a few weeks ago (thanks to your inspiration) I can’t wait to make more! These sounds awesome. I love that you included vanilla bean (not extract – i read it :) and zest. I imagine these bars would taste great will all kinds of dried fruit! I do have some dried strawberries in my pantry…

  8. Lisa Mai says:

    Yumm that looks so good and easy! My partner loves anything healthy like this and he’s always searching my pantry for snacks, I shall definitely try this soon =) Love your pictures!

  9. Olga says:

    Amazing! How long do you think these would last on the counter or in the refrigerator? I tend to forget about things when I freeze them. :)

  10. Marina says:

    Thank you. I read you posts, love your pictures, and make your recipes. Thank you; such a labour of love. I also wanted to share with you that finding some ingredients has taken me to fabulous new places (like Ranch 99). Thank you.

  11. Erin says:

    This sounds incredible, maybe more so than the cherry pie ones. I’m in the middle of my 200 yoga teacher training course, and during training weekends we are not allowed to bring caffeine, chocolate or junk food inside the yoga center. I’ll have to make some of these to take with me to eat during breaks – super energy boost and cheaper than the storebought Laras. Yum!

  12. sweetmaddy says:

    “Just get the damn vanilla bean.” You are fabulous! (Also, do people really comment without reading? That sucks!)

  13. kitty says:

    Awesome. Like Emma, I meant to make the cherry ones for my kid. I am putting the ingredients for this one on my shopping list now.

  14. Kitt says:

    Might have to make those for the Sergeant. He always needs to have some snack bars handy with all the traveling he does. Yours look super-tasty!

  15. Monique says:

    I made the cherry bars adding ginger and coconut and they were GREAT! Can’t wait to try this version.

  16. Carla says:

    Hey, I read your posts too. These look wonderful. It’s always good to have a handy, easy to eat, healthy treat (food bar).

  17. This is How I Cook says:

    Ditto on the reading. I will be making these for my daughter’s tennis team. And just curious, how much cheaper do you really think they are after you buy all the ingredients? I’m sure they taste better, just wondering about that economic benefit!

  18. mary says:

    These look amazing. I’m in training for a half ironman and need (lots) of food to carry on the bike, and these will be great! Way better than over-processed food and more affordable than lara bars. Thank you!

  19. John says:

    Do you use dried blueberries that are moist (like prunes) or freeze-dried? Thanks!

  20. Patryce says:

    So funny! After making an oats-added version of the cherry ones we made essentially these! Dried blueberries, almonds, lots of lemon zest and dates, plus oatmeal. My blueberries didn’t stick as well as the cherries did, they seem a good bit harder, but quite tasty. We’ll add the vanilla bean next time. Maybe pre-soak the blueberries just a little in hot water or something.

  21. KR says:

    I would like to recommend this recipe. Beautiful. In this way we can combine the different dried fruits and nuts

  22. Susanne says:

    Just made these, with raisins instead of blueberries since dried blueberries were outrageously expensive at WF. OMG, these are awesome! You are so right about the lemon zest and vanilla bean – they make these taste so much better than your average nutrition bar. I used roasted, salted cashews and I’m loving the slight savoriness they add to the sweet. Love your blog, Jen – thanks so much for sharing your talents with us.

  23. Claire Banasiak says:

    Made these yesterday. They are delicious, better than a blueberry muffin. As I don’t like cashews I substituted half salted pistashios and hald raw almonds. Thanks for the recipe, keep creating.

  24. Mechelle says:

    Hi, new to your site, found you with the banana ice cream post, love it and i think will love this as well. Though how long do you think these would last? if I only made one batch it would be gone before the 30 min time in the fridge, so i was thinking of maybe quadrupling the recipe and storing some…either frozen or maybe trying to dry them to pack…any suggestions? My kids and DH are going to want this around all the time. thanks so much!

  25. jenyu says:

    Emma – yes of course! You’re welcome to re-blog any recipe from urb. I just ask that you link back as a courtesy :) Thanks!

    Katrina – :)

    Caitlin – :P

    Erin – I love how flexible the recipes can be!

    Melissa – ha ha ha! *snert* I love that. Mel, I think you’ll really like these. I feel so satisfied after eating one and it gives me good solid energy instead of junk energy. And you can put anything you want in them!

    Kel – thanks :)

    Theresa – oh yes, definitely experiment with different combinations! I plan to do a lot of mixing and matching this summer for hiking and biking!

    Lisa – yay!

    Olga – I bet they’d last forever in the fridge. We store them in our pantry, so I think their lifetime will likely be limited by the lifetime of the nuts (before they go rancid which is probably the date on the nuts or something). Our never last that long though…

    Marina – Oh, I miss Ranch 99 so much! Lucky you that you live near one :)

    Erin – yes, these (in my humble opinion) are better than the cherry pie ones, but I make both for variety!

    sweetmaddy – oh, all the time ;) It’s funny and sometimes it’s sad.

    kitty – hope you all enjoy them!

    Kitt – these are really good and *healthy* which sometimes isn’t an easy combo. GREAT for travel too!

    Monique – wow, that sounds awesome (especially the ginger!) I like that idea :)

    Carla – agreed!

    This is How I Cook – I imagine it has to be somewhat cheaper. I actually make mine with all organic ingredients and that pushes the cost up. But after calculating how much it cost me to make 10 bars (which are bigger than the standard LÄRABAR by 25-30%) they came to be the same cost. That’s pretty good considering mine are organic. If you made conventional ones, I’m positive the cost savings would be substantial. That vanilla bean is going to be the biggest factor though – I buy mine (organic) in bulk from If you buy a single vanilla bean from the grocery store, you aren’t going to be saving much. Also – I love the flexibility of making my own bars with any flavors/ingredients I want :)

    mary – good luck on your half ironman!

    John – the dried kind that are moist (although they’re still a little hard). Freeze dried would be interesting, but I think they wouldn’t bind well?

    Patryce – Some of the dried fruits are difficult to chop and incorporate. I think dried apples, pears, apricots, plums (prunes), peaches, etc. might work well too.

    KR – thanks!

    Susanne – mmm, raisins are a good alternative! Maybe even golden raisins? I’m all for experimenting :) xo

    Claire – oh, I love the idea of using pistachios. You guys are so creative!

    Mechelle – these should last about as long as the nuts are good (check the expiration date on the nuts when you purchase them). Honestly, if they go quickly in your house, then I wouldn’t worry. But if you want them to last longer, wrap them and store them in the refrigerator. My guess is that a couple of months should be fine in the pantry (if it doesn’t get outrageously hot).

  26. Margie says:

    Why is it that I have not yet made my own? I no longer have an excuse. Your post is my second reminder.

  27. Claire Banasiak says:

    In case anyone is tired of scraping vanilla beans, as I am, I have purchased vanilla bean paste, so much easier and less expensive than the bean itself.

  28. smee says:

    one question: how do you keep from eating the whole batch right out of the bowl?

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  30. Eva @ Eva Bakes says:

    This recipe is phenomenal! I loved them so much that I made two batches over a weekend. I’ve linked back to you here:

  31. Anita says:

    I was wondering where you find no added sugar dried fruit? I have been having a hard time around here. Even the blueberries have added sugar and blueberries are not naturally tart and in need of sugar. Thanks! I love these kinds of raw snacks.

  32. jenyu says:

    Anita – you can find some at Trader Joe’s. I got mine from Whole Foods’ bulk section. Good luck!

  33. Ryan says:

    I have been wanting to try these but had been on a sugar detox. Just made them. They are awesome. I did microwave the dried blueberries for about 20 seconds. It helped in the food processor to turn them into a semi-paste in very little time.

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  35. Becky says:

    I made these this weekend. Beyond fantastic tasting! I think I might have needed more dates though because mine came out a bit crumbly. I could not get the mixture out of the pan so that I could cut them up. Next time I”ll roll them into logs :-)

    Thanks for your kitchen inventiveness :-)

  36. Jean says:

    Oh these sound awesome. I hope I’ll be able to find the ingredients!

  37. Melinda says:

    Do you think vanilla bean paste would work? It’s not extract, has the seed unit,but is more of a syrup in texture. Would substituting almond meal alter the flavor too much?

  38. jenyu says:

    Melinda – yes, vanilla bean paste should be perfectly fine. I probably wouldn’t use almond meal in place of actual almonds though – the texture would be totally different.

  39. Susan says:

    Since I didn’t have vanilla bean on hand, found a way to make vanilla extract work: process vanilla extract with about 1/3 cup coconut flakes and add to the above mixture. The flakes absorb the vanilla and help distribute it. Worked great!

  40. Michele says:

    These sound great but we have nut allergy in the house. Do you think it would work with sunflower seeds in place of the nuts? Or pumpkin seed?

  41. jenyu says:

    Michele – I’m guessing it wouldn’t be too hard to sub the seeds for the nuts (just make sure they are chopped if they are large seeds?). Give it a try. I bet they’d be good!

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  43. Lisa says:

    do these need to be kept in the refridgerator after they are cut into bars or will they keep fine wrapped in saran in a glass container at room temp?

  44. jenyu says:

    Lisa – they should be fine wrapped in saran wrap at room temp. I’d probably seal them in an airtight container too.

  45. Sarah says:

    Umm. Yeah. Heaven. I bought the damn vanilla bean, which I have never done before, and these are INCREDIBLE!

  46. Erin says:

    Hey there- do you soak your nuts before making them into bars?

  47. jenyu says:

    Erin – definitely not. I think that would turn into a soggy mess.

  48. Stephanie says:

    Hi, is it possible to make any of these nut free? Working in childcare I can’t take any kinds of nuts to work.

  49. jenyu says:

    Stephanie – well, nuts are kind of a major part of the recipe, but you could try using seeds instead like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.? Good luck!

  50. Sumner Smith says:

    So I made these last night, and they are DELICIOUS. Much better, in fact, than the originals. And I was sorely tempted to skip the vanilla bean and lemon zest, but since you specifically said not to I schlepped over to Whole Foods. Totally worth it.

  51. Rachel says:

    I know I’m about a year late, but I hope melinda went ahead and tried the almond meal… When imitating Larabars I like to grind the nuts finer. I process the nuts until fine and then add the other ingredients and just process it all together (I’m too lazy to dirty an extra bowl). When I made these just now I used an extra 1/2 cup of cashews and the result is a smoother texture that’s just a bit oily. The oiliness keeps them from sticking to the pan or your fingers and they are less likely to crumble on you, so I like it.
    I do think that the cashews are what distinguishes these bars though. Most Larabars are almond-based, but the cashews complement the blueberries perfectly.

  52. Kathy says:

    Okay, I’ve purchased everything I need (mainly at Sprouts, except the dried blueberries, which I got at Costco). Looking forward to giving these a try. That said, after I ran the numbers, if I cut the bars so that I have 10, the cost is $1.25 per bar. All that effort, not to mention gas, and I could have bought a 5-pack at Target for $$5.59. Any suggestions on where to get ingredients ingredients?

    Per Batch (making 8 bars : $1.56 ea)

    Blueberries $2.66
    Lemon $0.35
    Vanilla Bean ($1.00 – the whole bean was $4.00)
    Dates – $2.50
    Cashews – $6.00 (based on $8.99 lb)

    $12.51 divided by 8 bars = $1.56/bar, divided by 10 bars, $1.25/bar

  53. jenyu says:

    Kathy – first off, you need to compare them by weight otherwise your pricing is arbitrary. My homemade larabars are 1.9 oz. when cut into 10 bars and commercial larabars are 1.6 oz. I list a link in the post for where I buy vanilla beans in bulk for much less than what you paid. More importantly (for me) is that all of my ingredients are organic, and larabars are not. Hope you enjoy them.

  54. Brynda Booey says:

    This recipe is awesome! I’ve made it twice now, and it’s just excellent. I love how easy it is to make… I just throw everything into my Cuisinart until it’s all crumbly. Turns out perfectly! Thank you for posting such a heathful & satisfying recipe.

  55. April says:

    Any idea of the calorie count?

  56. jenyu says:

    April – sorry, I don’t know, but I’m sure you could calculate it easily enough! :)

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