Did you know that you can dry cranberries in the oven?  I had no idea.  In fact after last week when my new (used) dehydrator bit the dust I was quite bummed that I wouldn’t be able to dry any fruit.  But due to several factors, I decided to get creative today:

1) I am on this quest to lose 10 lbs by my birthday and I needed budget friendly, quick, fiber rich, minimally processed and tasty snacks (impossible!)

2) we are still eating from the pantry/freezer this month and I have 1/5 bags of cranberries in my freezer from Christmas  with no apparent plan for them

3) I tried LaraBars at the referral of a friend and enjoyed them, however they are pricey!  I found a recipe for homemade Larabars  here and decided to give them a whirl… I had everything on hand except for some dried fruit.

4) AND it is Monday and who couldn’t use a little adventure on a Monday to kick off the week 🙂 So away I went!

First I started off with my package of 13oz of dates that I bought on my very first trip EVER to an Asian store.  Look what $1.99 got me! (Do you know how much fiber are in dates? Seriously!)

I picked those up last week and had some almonds on hand (ps Sams Club=AMAZING deal on Almonds!) Now I just needed dried fruit.  I could go buy some… but what is the fun in that. 🙂  After about a 5 min Google search yesterday I decided that it would be best to dip my whole cranberries in boiling water to split the waxy skin.  Then I was going to bake them at 170* for a while until they got all shriveled.  However, online is said “it shouldn’t take long” so I had no idea what that meant.  I decided to saved the project for this morning when I knew I would be home for several hours.  I spread them all out on a  jelly roll pan, set the time for 1 hr at a time and after 3 hrs in the oven, they looked like this:

I was happy with how they were turning out so I decided to go ahead with the rest of the recipe (I only used the half bag of cranberries in case my experiment didn’t work) and right after lunch I got out my food processor and blended the dates and cranberries together.  Then I bleneded the almonds and cinnamon together and they ended up looking like this:

I was getting excited as my pictures were looking a lot like the site above where the lady had made her own LaraBars.  (Not sure if she dried her own fruit with no dehydrator… that was what was making me nervous!) Anyhow, I mixed it all together and placed 4 mounds of the sticky stuff on cling wrap and tried to mold/shape them into granola bars.  John Boy, however, decided he wanted to help mommy so I was rushed and trying to get things cleaned up before he “helped” too much.  So they look pretty ghetto… but taste AMAZING! 🙂

They are a little stickier than the LaraBars from the store.  I would imagine my cranberries might no have been as dry as they could be.  So I might add more almonds next time.  But I do plan to dry the remaining cranberries and make a huge batch of these to keep in the fridge.  I usually just eat a half of one each afternoon.  Too bad I already ate my half at 1:15 pm today… I’m gonna be hungry by dinner!

Well, that is my crazy experiment for the day and I quite pleased.  Happy to have something new and tasty for my snacks and even happier that I could do it myself!