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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Beginnings, Janus and "Lara" Bars

I love January.  I love the idea of new beginnings, a clean, fresh slate and the feeling that anything is possible.  (I probably feel this way because I am much more adept at starting things than finishing things). 

Enter Janus, the God of Beginnings.  Janus (or maybe the person who conceived/perceived him), knew a thing or two about beginnings.  Charged with beginnings of all sorts, transitions, gates, doors, portals, even time itself, Janus is often portrayed as a two-faced entity, illustrating the ability to look to the past as well as to the future.
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Interestingly (or annoyingly), when I expressed my delight over January to my husband, his first response was to point out to me that there are places in the world where I can experience January all year round.  When I clarified that it isn't the weather of January that I love (oh, HELL no --- January in Ohio is not a paradise to be savored all year round), and I explained rather that I love the idea that all is possible, he said, 'oh, I feel like that every day'.  Seriously, I would like to smack him sometimes.

But, I quickly realized, of course he is right.  Why should we just arbitrarily assign all of this 'freshening' to one date on the calendar?  Every day IS the first day of the rest of our life.....and each days holds the promise of possibility.

Still....I like January.  It feels like a time for assessment, for appraisal and for renewed committment to all that we want to get from our mortal existence.

I was interested in one of the ancient ceremonies to usher in is based on the feeling that how January is started will be an omen for the rest of the year.  Thusly, people devoted some time to work and also expressed greetings and hopes to others, spreading cheer, and they exchanged DATES!  Dates???  Perfect.  See recipe below. {Interestingly one reference I found stated that typically no animal sacrifices were made, but rather cakes made of spelt and salt were given up to the}.


LaraBars I'm sure you've seen them if you've ventured into the health food or organic section of the grocery store.  They are one of the few vegan 'energy' or snack bars that don't have additives, but rather consist usually of dates, nuts and some spices.  I have long thought I could just make these myself.  I found several great do-it-yourself recipes on the web--- finally got around to trying them. (A Google search "LaraBar Recipes" will give you a large amount of returns if you want to see some specific ingredient amounts---I cannot seem to locate a particular blog that did an excellent job explaining amounts, etc.  When I find it, I'll post the link here).  In a word:  Yum.

Date Bars (maybe I should call them Janus-Bars)

I just played with the ingredient amounts a bit and used (in various combinations, not all together):

dates  (I use the large whole Medjool dates, pitted)
dried cranberries
raw cashews
raw walnuts
raw cacao nibs
(I didn't measure, but instead added more of the ground nuts if the mixture seemed too wet, although the mix will be sticky, and more dates if it was too dry)

I used my little coffee grinder that I process nuts/seeds in to grind up the nuts and the cacao nibs, and used Viv, the wonder-Vitamix blender for the dates/cranberries/raisins.  This is where I think I do need a food processor.  It was a bit of a mess trying to dig all of that out of the blender, but, totally worth it.  Use your personal taste preferences and just go nuts....(ha-ha). 

I'm thinking some great add-ins would be dried coconut, any dried fruit like dried mango, berries, etc.  I'll want to use my dehydrator for most of these dried fruits and now might be inspired to do just that as most commercial dried fruit has sulphites or other nasties.

These go together quickly and are much more economical than the $1.+ per bar.  

I laid mine out on plastic wrap, but waxed paper would work well too ---will try for my next batch - wrap and refrigerate.  I don't think they actually require refrigeration, but a short time in the frig is likely a good idea to help them firm up.  Hopefully I will come up with a concoction that my husband will be able to enjoy and maybe I can get him off the sweet and salty granola bars.

So far my favorite combination has been the cashews, cranberries, dates, cinnamon.  As is noted in many of the recipes on the web, you can also add a drop or two of an extract.  I'll be trying some rum extract with the coconut, cashew or pecan, date combination.

Sue, celebrating beginnings, with dates, in Ohio


  1. Here is a website that specifies amounts for Lemon Coconut Lara Bars and Peanut Butter Chocolate Lara Bars:

  2. I love the concept of new beginnings, but I think I could conjure up the concept even if I lived in Hawaii and didn't have to clean the girl's coop in the biting wind LOL! I do love sun and snow together, but here that is very rare...enjoy it this week and we still have lunch to do!!!

  3. Thank you, Hailey. That's a great resource!

  4. No kidding, Gale....lunch soon! Definitely going to soak up these temps and the rare sun.

  5. Hi, I came across your site and wasn’t able to get an email address to contact you. Would you please consider adding a link to my website on your page. Please email me back.


    Hailey William

  6. Hi Hailey,
    I've emailed you and would be happy to check out your web-site! Send me the link or post it here in a comment.

  7. Hey - love your blog! Hope I win the give-away!!