How I wish that I could have some prepackaged real food right about now.
Although I'd like to admit otherwise, I have not been enjoying packing lunches lately. Everyday seems to be some alternating version of ham, salami or AB and J with some chopped up veggies and whole fruit, perhaps the occasional pickle. Thing 1 does not have access to a microwave to heat up dinner leftovers, but even if he did he wouldn't necessarily eat them. School lunch is included in the cost of his tuition and he would rather eat the junkier nutrition-light fare that the school serves. Since we end up wasting alot, I wish (at the very least) that lunch was easier to prepare. I wish there were more ready to eat, individually sized foods that met my high standards.
One such product that I continually buy is Larabars. Larabars are ground date, dried fruit and nut combinations that are easy to carry for snacks, always get eaten and can be thrown into a lunch box at 9:30 PM with virtually no thought. Larabars are a product I trust. They use only Non-GMO ingredients, contain no sweeteners at all and they always get eaten no matter what the school is serving.
There are many foodies and bloggers who LOVE Larabars because they are all real food and they taste great. But I continue to read those that just s%!t-talk Larabars. The main complaints ate that the bars are prohibitively expensive and too calorie dense.
Yes, Larabars are pricey when you consider what they are. At $1.69 or more per 200 calorie bar, it can really add up, especially when you have more than one child. We do not eat Larabars every day. They are a special treat. So I will buy 4 or 5 a week and we will all have one or two. The Things will even accept Larabars as dessert which is proof that they really do see them as a treat.
I have made Almond Date Truffles, as I like to call them, before. My version is heavier on nuts than Larabars but essentially they are the same thing. My almond-date balls took almost an hour to make and roll and, because I used organic everything, cost probably as much or more than an equal amount of Larabars. Normally I would assume that any homemade version of a prepackaged item would cost more, because we would use better quality ingredients. But I don't worry about the quality of the nuts and fruits in Larabars and we do not eat 100% organic. I have made the truffles a couple of times, but I didn't feel that the extra money and all the extra work involved were justified when Larabars are so easy and right there.
And of course, people downplay Larabars because they are calorie dense, i.e.- fattening. Now that really is some s#!t talk! Yet I can't really deny it. For their size, Larabars have alot of calories. However this is where we have to use our brains. Just because something is real food doesn't mean that you can pig out on it and eat 12 with no consequences! Yes, dates (the main ingredient in all Larabars) are extremely high in sugar. However dates are also a source of potassium, magnesium, Vitamin B6 and they contain countless other vitamins and minerals in smaller quantities. Dates are also an excellent source of dietary fiber. (Check out the nutrition data for dates.) Usually I break a bar in half and split it between the kids. They are so sweet that they never ask for more. And because they are made from real food, there are no manipulating added favors or sugars to make them feel addicted.
Because they are pricey and high in calories, Larabars are not an every day snack for me or my children. BUT, I am not so sure there is any one food that we eat every single day. We strive for varied balanced diets. And Larabars certainly fit into that balance. I am happy that they do not contain wheat, since my kids seem to be bombarded with wheat wherever we turn. If you haven't tried Larabars for either of these reasons, consider cutting them in half. Try them for that 4 PM slump. Stick them into your kids lunchbox to know that they'll be full until school let's out. And definitely try the chocolate ones, because what other chocolate-y bar on the market can boast all the antioxidant benefits of unsweetened cocoa with truly zero added sugar? And to the Larabar company, if you like what you read, would you mind sending me a free box? Please??? Haha, just kidding!