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!




Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Dairy-Free Pancakes

WOW – am I excited about this simple recipe! I have had several weeks where recipes (baking ones in particular) have not been turning out. One Saturday morning I woke up, sauntered into the kitchen with my little man Q and decided to make pancakes.  Realizing we were out of our normal Bulk Barn mix and that to get more of it would require a 6 hour drive (that’s right, there is no Bulk Barn in Vancouver!), I thought I would wing it and try to make my own.

I discovered a new brand of brown rice flour that I believe made a huge difference in how the pancakes turned out. Now, I am not a person to favour brands. If I can get a product that I feel is comparable to a name brand, at a lower price, I will. If you haven’t noticed, I like to get the best bang for my buck! Unfortunately, gluten-free has its price. You’re never going to find a 2.5kg bag of nutritious gluten-free flour for $4.49. It’s just not going to happen! But when I saw Cuisine Soleil at the store, I thought it was a reasonable price for a 1kg bag of organic brown rice flour at $7.99. Compared to the East food is more expensive here, so prices may vary in your province. Also, I like that this is a Canadian company so I felt good about buying it.  The taste and texture were far superior to any other brand I have worked with – and I use a lot of brown rice flour! I’m looking forward to trying their All Purpose GF Flour blend for baking and getting their Buckwheat for another pancake option. Anyways, if you haven’t already checked them out, they have a store locator on their site to help you find a retailer.

These little cakes turned out soft and fluffy, did not crumble and were totally satisfying for a weekend treat! Top them with fruit and some maple syrup (the real stuff of course) and you’ve got a happy tummy – without any uncomfortable side effects. SO easy! When you try them, let me know how they turn out!

Ever discovered a product at the store that surprised you in quality for value?

Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Dairy-Free Pancakes
  • ¾ cup non-dairy milk (I used almond)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp grape seed oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca starch
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum
  • ¼ tsp salt
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients.
  2. In a smaller bowl, mix together all dry ingredients.
  3. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, whisking together. Let mixture sit for 2-5 mins to the side while the ingredients thicken.
  4. On medium heat, lightly grease frying pan with oil (like coconut) and in batches, scoop pancake mixture on to heated pan. When pancakes start to bubble, flip over.
  5. Serve right away, good and warm with fresh fruit, nuts and maple syrup. Makes about 10 medium sized pancakes. Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for 2-3 days in a sealed container.