Are Larabars Whole30?
Updated: Jan 26
It can certainly be confusing when looking for a quick paleo snack, especially if you're on a strict Whole30.
The short answer to everything Whole30 is, "Check the label."
This mantra will get you far when weighing whether something is Whole30 compliant.
For instance, when it comes to Larabars, a brand of fruit and nut bars you have likely seen at your local grocery store, many of their delicious flavors are completely compliant, while some contain outlawed ingredients like cane sugar or vanilla extract in the semisweet chocolate chips.
Vanilla extract is a concern because it is typically alcohol-based, and the Whole30 calls for a strict exclusion of alcohol. Added sugar of any kind and even calorie-free sweeteners are outlawed as well. Whole-food sugar sources like dates or other fruits are allowed. Peanuts also present a problem because, among other things, they are technically a legume, not a nut, and legumes are off limits on the Whole30.
Non-compliant bars include:
Peanut Butter Cookie
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
Peanut Butter & Jelly
Peanut Butter Banana
Strawberry Chocolate Chip
Almond Butter Chocolate Chip
Chocolate Hazelnut Swirl
Chocolate Peanut Caramel Truffle
Chocolate Raspberry Truffle
Coconut Chocolate Chip
Chocolate Chip Brownie
Chocolate Coconut Chew
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
You get the idea.
However, there are many Larabar flavors that are perfectly compliant:
Key Lime Pie
Coconut Cream Pie
Cinnamon Raisin Cookie
These wholesome bars are filled with great things like pitted dates, almonds, cashews and sea salt and can be a great emergency food to throw into your gym bag when you need something to munch on in a pinch.
There is, however, another consideration when it comes to Whole30 compliance:
Does this snack tame or ignite your sugar dragon?
If you have a raging sugar monster inside you, one of the main benefits of a Whole30 diet will be taming that beast. Unfortunately, sometimes even compliant foods can enable sugar cravings. Apple Pie Larabars, for instance, have 18 grams of sugar per serving. So if you find you're reaching for Larabar snack bars just because you crave a sweet treat, you're unlikely to reap all the benefits the Whole30 has to offer.
Remember when it comes to Whole30-friendly snacks, you're always better off reaching for whole foods like raw veggies. Almond butter and celery sticks make an awesome cravings-buster.
If you're looking for more of a meal replacement bar, RXBARs can be a great option in an emergency. Similar to Larabars, their main ingredients are dates and nuts, but with the addition of egg whites, RXBARS are more complete protein sources. Additionally, the chocolate used in RXBARs' chocolate flavors is unsweetened with no added ingredients, so the main thing to avoid in a traditional RXBAR would be any peanut-containing flavors. RXBAR also makes single-serve nut butters that are Whole30-friendly and lower in sugar than the bars.
Another kind of wholesome bar you may have heard of is Kind Bars. In general, Kind Bars are lower in overall sugar than Larabars or RXBARS (as low as 5g/bar), but they do contain added sweeteners, which makes them non-compliant for a Whole30.
If you would like to try your hand at "homemade lara bars," you will need the following:
nuts (such as cashews, walnuts, etc.)
pitted dates/dried fruits of choice (unsweetened for Whole30)
additions like flax seeds, hemp seeds, or spices if desired
a food processor
parchment paper to line a baking dish (for shaping before cutting)
I find that a 4:1 ratio of fruit to nuts gives the most Larabar-esque results, but keep in mind that this is a really sugar-laden ratio. When it comes to the dried fruit, I like to use at least half dates regardless of the flavor profile I'm going for because of their rich, brown sugar flavor. Also be warned that I have killed a food processor making bars like this before, so consider steps you can take to make it easier on your processor, like thawing any frozen nuts and pre-chopping all ingredients a bit beforehand. Also be sure to check dates for hidden pits! Once you have achieved a semi-cohesive mass in the processor, press the mixture into a baking dish lined with parchment paper and flatten into any even layer. Cut the bars apart using a greased knife, and enjoy!