Half my lifetime ago I joined the swimming team in high school. For someone who is ridiculously unathletic I'm not quite sure what possessed me to do so. But I think joining swimming was one of the best things I did.
For a nerd like me it was a way to be active, and I'd never been (and will likely never be) that physically fit. It provided me with friendships and balance in a life full of science clubs and honor societies and AP classes. It pushed and challenged me in so many ways, both physically and mentally. And no matter how much I sucked at swimming, I always managed to win a great award every year: most improved. (Apparently when you're not very good you can only get better with time...)
I also have a lot of food memories during that time
1. I was always hungry. I seriously think I ate more than my dad when I'd come home after our 2 (or 3) hour practices.
2. I was always eating. Most girls couldn't eat during swim meets. For me it was necessity. There's NO WAY I'd be able to go 3 hours sans food. I wonder just how much pasta I consumed back then...
3. Power Bars. And not the new and improved ones. Nope, I consumed the old and nasty ones from 1995. The ones that looked like crap and quite honestly didn't taste much better.
Back then Power Bars were the king of energy bars. Ugh, so gross, just the thought of them makes my stomach turn a little. Of course you didn't eat them because they tasted good, you just needed the energy to get you through 3000 yards of swimming.
Nowadays we're inundated with granola/energy/snack/diet bars- some that actually taste pretty freaking amazing. Like LARABAR. They're delicious and are made up of 3-4 simple ingredients: dates, some kind of nut, some kind of dried fruit.
But for over $1 for a teeny little bar you start to wonder if you could just make it yourself.
Jacque Bars, adapted from various online recipes (just google Lara Bar recipes)
Makes 5 or 6 small bars
1/3 cup almonds
1/3 cup dates, roughly chopped
1/2 + 1/3 cup dried tart cherry
dash of cinnamon or 5-spice chinese powder
1. Process nuts in food processor until finely chopped, place in medium sized bowl.
2. Process dates in food processor until paste-like and comes together in a ball. Add to the nuts.
3. Process cherries and spices in food processor until paste-like and comes together in a ball. (This took a little while but have patience, it will happen.) Add to the nuts.
4. Using your hands, mix the dried fruit and nuts until the nuts are completely incorporated and evenly mixed. Form into small bars and wrap in wax or parchment paper.
Note: Compared to most recipes out there I used a higher proportion of fruit : nut ratio. But the beauty of this recipe is that you can custom make the bars for you. JacqueBar is heavy on the cherries with just enough almonds to provide crunch and balance the sweetness. Yours can be as sweet or nutty as you [like].
Other ideas for you to create your custom bars:
Nuts: pecans, walnuts, peanuts, cashews
Fruit: dates + dried apples, apricots, cherries, blueberries, strawberries
Other mixins: various spices (cardamom, nutmeg), cocoa powder, chocolate chips, chunks of dried fruit