Larabars are many a GAPS dieter’s go-to snack for a reason. They’re simply made with just a few real-food ingredients.
Larabars that contain only nuts, dried fruit and coconut are GAPS compliant. Dried fruit and soaked nuts are introduced during or after stage 6, depending on individual tolerance. Save the bars with chocolate chips for later. Cocoa is *technically* not allowed on GAPS, but Dr. Campbell-McBride posted an update in the FAQs on her website allows for the reintroduction of cocoa on Full GAPS once digestive symptoms are gone. (YMMV)
As far as a healthy snack goes, they’re *almost* perfect. I have only a few quibbles —
- they’re kinda expensive
- they’re not organic
- the nuts are not properly prepared (soaked)
Fortunately, it’s not at all difficult to make your own Larabar-style nut bars at home. All you need is a food processor and a warm place to let the bars dry.
Step 1: soaking the nuts
So why go to the trouble of soaking nuts in the first place?
In a nutshell (see what I did there?) seeds contain phytic acid, enzyme inhibitors and other antinutrients that protect them from predators by suppressing the action of digestive enzymes such as pepsin, trypsin and amylase. Without these enzymes, the seed or nut (which is also a seed) becomes much harder to break down and hopefully (from the seed’s point of view) able to survive the digestive tract and go on to reproduce at a later date. 💩
When we eat an ungerminated nut or seed, phytic acid passes through the digestive tract, binding to and chelating nutritive minerals like magnesium, calcium, copper and zinc, and prevents them from being absorbed in the intestine. Phytic acid can also inhibit digestive enzymes such as pepsin, amylase, and trypsin, which can further contribute to mineral deficiencies when consumed in significant amounts.
The soaking process mimics natural germination and signals the plant to shut down these defense systems, which are no longer needed once the plant has fulfilled its prime directive to reproduce.
(Check out The Health Benefits Of Soaking Nuts & Seeds for more on why it’s important to soak nuts and seeds before eating them.)
Step 2: putting it all together
Once your nuts have been soaked and drained, you’re ready to combine everything in the food processor.
I’d recommend starting with a 1:1 ratio of dates to nuts. You can scale back the dates if you prefer less sweet. I used approximately 2 cups of soaked nuts to 2 cups of pitted dates for my 8″ x 11″ pan. Run the food processor until the nuts and dates start to come together into a rough but cohesive dough. You may have to manually unstick the dough if it gets stuck in the processor’s blade.
Using your hands, evenly press the nut dough into a silicone or parchment lined pan. I have a couple of 8″ x 11″ Tupperware silicone pans that work perfectly for this purpose, but any similarly sized pan should work as long as you line it with something nonstick.
Step 3: dehydrate it
You’ll want to dehydrate your bars at no more than 115F to ensure that no nutrients and beneficial enzymes are destroyed by the heat.