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Fruit bars rock diabetic's Easter basket

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Easter is the time for marshmallow ducks, chocolate bunnies and jelly beans - except if you're diabetic, or if you are a Mom who doesn't want your kids to max out on sugar. Sugar-free, guilt-free options tend to be limited. Rescue the day with these sugar-free diabetic-friendly fruit bars. Not only do they satisfy the sweet tooth, they're actually nutritious - 1 bar provides 2 fruit exchanges and 1 fat exchange. The addition of ground nuts and unflavored gelatin also adds a touch of protein, making fruit bars a great after-workout snack as well.

This recipe uses dried apricots, dried tart cherries and golden raisins, but it's fine to combine any dried fruits except for banana chips into the mix. Keep it colorful, and go for some nice sweet and tart combinations for the best flavor mix.

Fruit Candy Bars
1 c. dried apricots
1/2 c. dried tart cherries
1/2 c. golden raisins
1 tbsp. corn starch
1 c. walnut or pecan pieces
1 pkg. unflavored gelatin
1/4 c. water
2 tbsp. freshly grated orange zest
1 tsp vanilla or rum extract, if desired

Place apricots, cherries, raisins and corn starch into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until all dried fruit is chopped and coated with starch. Stir in nut pieces.

Measure water into a microwave-safe bowl; add gelatin and allow to soften for 5 minutes. Place mixture into microwave, heat for 45 seconds and then stir gelatin into the water. Pour gelatin over the fruit mixture and coat thoroughly.

Line an 8" square pan with waxed paper. Turn gelatin coated fruit into the pan, pressing evenly across the bottom. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until mixture is set. Turn out onto cutting board and cut into 12 rectangular pieces. Wrap each piece separately in cling wrap.