Last night I dragged out my dehydrator, starting on my 2012 resolutions a few days early, as if to stagger them, since I have quite a few on my list this time around. Besides, by the time the bars are finished -- that is, "cooked" in the raw -- it may well be January 1, 2012.
But it's more than health concerns that had me whip up this batch. These bars are also a response to the pain in the wallet I am noticing these days. I couldn't believe that a bar made of flax seeds and pumpkin seeds mostly should cost $3.19 at the health food store. But it does. And people shell out the money to buy them still -- obviously.
So, I decided to experiment a little. Not that I haven't already done my share of mixing up strange things to cook up in the dehydrator, but this time I meant business, hoping a little that I could make it a business -- eventually.
To start with, I bought the bar to set the "bar."
Then, after perusing the list of ingredients, I bought pumpkin seeds ($6.20 for 1.05 lbs), flax seeds ($2.48 for 1.25 lbs), dates ($6.29 for 1 lb), all organic, of course. I used all the pumpkin seeds I bought, less than half of the flax seeds, and about one third of the dates. To this mix I added my mix of spices and a touch of local organic honey from the hardworking bees of Tamara Holland, the multi-talented artist of Bean Up the Nose Art.
In no time -- at least after the hours it took to soak the seeds for proper raw food" prep -- I had the "dough" shaped into 24 bars about the same size as the "bar" bar, more or less. With that, last night's task was done. After that, it was up to the dehydrator.
Since we generate a lot of our own electricity -- in fact more than we use -- thanks to our solar panels, the cost of energy to run the dehydrator for days at the required temperature of around 108 degrees is taken care by the sun. Which leaves the cost of labor to factor into this experiment. Take my love of cooking and my passion for health and fitness, and I would almost pay you for me too make something good and useful.... So that takes care of that.
Still, if I were to attach a price tag to this bar, it would come to maybe 50 cents per bar for production costs, excluding labor.
But, as they say, the proof is in the pudding.
So how do my bars measure up to the bar-setting bar?
Had to wait a bit to get the pudding to the proofing stage, but I am happy to report that after 24 hours of working the dehydrator non-stop my bars taste almost exactly the same as the one I bought, except that they are not as sweet.
Both bars, mine and the one from the store, taste a bit too flaxy for my taste, but I suppose that's the mark of a healthy nosh for the raw-food crowd.
I left out the agave that was listed prominently as an ingredient on the package of store-bought bar, and I also probably didn't put enough dates into the mix to make for a sweet difference in my agave-less version. In addition, my bars have more ragged edges, giving them a more homemade look. Though they have a slightly different shape, both bars weigh about the same. The one on the left, is the bar I made, and the one on the right, is the one I bought.
Well, for the next batch, I think I'll include sesame seeds, going for that seedy punch all the way...
Something new might just sprout its way into being in 2012 through these experiments!