Pistachio Nanaimo Bars: A St. Patty’s Day Surprise (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

Ok friends, in my last post I mentioned I was going to share with you a few new ways to make your food more nutrient dense and kid friendly so you can feel good about eating it and serving it to your family. Now, don’t be scared. No, seriously, don’t because this recipe may have vegetables in it but you would never know. SERIOUSLY! YOU WOULD NEVER KNOW! Sorry, don’t mean to yell at you but I’m so excited! This is one tasty Nanaimo bar treat! And there are two cups of raw spinach in it.

Pistachio Nanaimo Bars with Spinach

Yup, you heard me right. Two cups of raw spinach. Now, I don’t normally “hide” vegetables in our every day meals because I want my kids to know what they are eating. My kids eat a lot of veggies but for some reason I cannot get  Little Q to eat dark leafy greens unless pulverized in my Kale Smoothie or baked into a Kale Chip. I think it is a texture thing and I know I am not the only mom who has this problem. Now, I have one more recipe up my sleeve that gets a little more greens into the diet! MUAHAHAHAHA

Pistachio Nanaimo Bars with Spinach

Enter from stage right these divine Pistachio Nanaimo Bars! These bars are based off my first vegan, gluten-free Nanaimo bar recipe which I make a Christmas time.  The original version is mint flavour, which you can certainly do here in place of the vanilla for the middle layer, I just wanted to make something different then what I had done before. What I like about this version is I decided not to bake the bottom layer (mainly because I have become more lazy now that I am a mother of two) and they turned out just as good if not better than the original! Seriously, you need to make these and use St. Patty’s Day as an excuse – that’s what I did! Who knows, I may just start throwing spinach into random things just to see how it turns out!

Pistachio Nanaimo Bars with Spinach

Pistachio Nanaimo Bars (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

Lightly adapted from my original Vegan Gluten-Free Nanaimo Bar recipe.


1/2 cup raw pistachios, shells taken off and roughly chopped

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup brown rice flour

3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

2 tbsp tapioca starch

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/3 cup coconut oil

2 tbsp chia seeds soaked in 1/2 cup water for 5mins

Line an 8″ x 8″ pan with parchment paper. Mix above ingredients in one bowl until well blended. Press the mixture into the bottom of the lined pan into an even layer using the back of a spoon to ensure that the mixture is well compressed. Set aside while you make the remaining layers.


1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for a minimum 3 hrs

2 cups loosely packed raw spinach (I used organic baby spinach)

2 tsp vanilla (if choosing mint flavour instead, omit vanilla & substitute 1/2 tsp pure peppermint extract)

2 tbsp coconut sugar

1/2 cup water (approx.)

Place filling ingredients in food processor with the ‘S’ blade and blend until smooth and creamy adding more water if necessary to attain this texture. Pour evenly over bottom layer and set aside.


For best results use Cara’s Raw Chocolate Bars recipe from Fork and Beans

1/2 cup coconut oil

6 heaping tbsp cocoa powder

4 tbsp maple syrup

pinch of sea salt

Heat in small saucepan over low heat and pour over middle filling once all ingredients have melted together. Set aside and let cool in fridge slightly before scoring the bars then put back into fridge to fully set. When set, cut bars into squares and serve. Keep in fridge for 1 week. Enjoy this healthy treat!




Quinoa, Blueberry & Buckwheat Waffles – Gluten-Free & Sugar-Free

Quinoa Blueberry & Buckwheat Waffles

‘Never say never’ and ‘don’t be so quick to judge’ are two things I have quickly learned as a parent. You never know what the situation is with a parent and child is and why they use certain parenting methods. Or as I like to call them, my methods of manipulation (which mostly revolve around the use of chocolate and potty training…). But all joking aside, there are some parents who are desperate to get their kids to eat anything whether it is the most nutrient dense food for them or not.  What do I mean my nutrient dense? This term means you are choosing foods that have the most bang for it’s buck – a balance of fiber, protein, carbohydrates & macronutrients. In other words, you are looking at foods for their nutrient content and getting the most out of that.

Quinoa Blueberry & Buckwheat Waffles

So, how do we do that without feeling like we are getting nothing but lentils, hemp seeds and spinach? Especially when all we want to do on a Sunday morning is eat waffles and bacon? Well, instead of buying the pre-made waffles from the store made with processed enriched white flour, which will simply add calories to your Sunday brunch instead of good nutrients, why not try making these Quinoa Blueberry & Buckwheat Waffles?! Full of protein, essential amino acids, fiber and magnesium – all things our bodies need more of, this is a small change that your kids will eat and you can feel good about. My inspiration for these waffles came from the breakfast cookies that Leanne has been cooking up over a Healthful Pursuit like these Gingerbread Quinoa Breakfast Cookies.

Quinoa Blueberry & Buckwheat Waffles

A few notes, hints and tips on this recipe:

1. Buckwheat is not a wheat and is gluten-free. It is the fruit of a plant that is related to rhubarb. This is my first time cooking with this and I am very pleased with the way it turned out. I chose a light buckwheat flour as sometimes the taste of buckwheat can be overwhelming – it’s very nutty. I also thought it would be more pleasant to a child’s taste buds. Not only is it high in protein, it is full of magnesium, which aids in the absorption of vitamins and nutrients. It also helps with muscle cramping (Epsom bath anyone?) so great for women at that certain time of the month.

2. Do not substitute another gluten-free flour for this recipe and expect it to turn out. I tried several and they did not cook through out. Think mushy waffles instead of crispy, light flaky ones. If you are not gluten-free but want to try this and don’t have buckwheat on hand, whole wheat flour should work, although I have not tried it.

3. Save time and cook your quinoa the night before. If you’ve forgotten to, cook it and cool it down quickly in the freezer for a few minutes.

4. This is sweetened with applesauce instead of using any sugar. You are welcome!

5. Make a double batch and freeze one batch putting parchment paper between each waffle for easy separation. This makes a quick breakfast for the kids through the week and you simply need to toast in toaster.

STAY TUNED! My next few posts will have ways you may never had imagined of adding nutrients to your food AND it tastes good! Subscribe to my blog by clicking on the button at the top right of the page. You can also follow me on Facebook, twitter and Pinterest! Share if you like what I dishing out! I thank you for it!

Quinoa, Blueberry & Buckwheat Waffles - Gluten-Free & Sugar-Free
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups milk of your choice (dairy or non-dairy)
  • ½ cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil, or other liquid vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour (I used light, which is slightly less nutty tasting)
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries (optional)
  1. Preheat your waffle iron to low heat according to the manual's instructions.
  2. In a high powered blender, place eggs, milk, apple sauce, pure vanilla & coconut oil and blend until well mixed.
  3. Add quinoa to the blender and blend until quinoa is no longer visible. On my blender the setting is 'liquify' and only takes 60 seconds. Yours may be different.
  4. Add buckwheat, baking powder and sea salt and blend until well mixed. Batter should be nice and thick now.
  5. Pour batter into heated waffle iron adding 5-6 blueberries to each waffle before closing the lid. For best results, cook slow and low for about 5 - 8 mins until the waffles are golden. Carefully remove waffles from iron and serve immediately with you favourite fruit and maple syrup on top. Repeat the cooking portion until batter is gone. Makes approx 12 large waffles.
  6. Freeze any unused waffles by layering parchment paper between each waffle and sealing in tight bag. Toast to reheat when desired.