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.

BOTTOM LAYER

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.

MIDDLE FILLING

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.

TOP LAYER

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!

 

 

 

Healthy Caesar Salad Dressing

I have to tell you something.

 

I’m having a love affair. I have been on a salad kick lately where I am eating some form of lettuce at almost every meal. I will look at a meal and then throw it on top of a bed of lettuce with some balsamic and call it a day! I am loving the crunch or romaine, the textures of spring mix and the freshness of a peppery arugula. I have even been eating it as my afternoon snack instead of having a piece of fruit or half an avocado – yes, you heard me right. Seems everything I pin on Pinterest is some form of a salad and I continually drool as I am looking at the pictures. This is not the norm for me – although you may think so from reading my blog. Normally I drool over some form of chocolate cake with a creamy, fluffy icing (kind of like this one) or an oozing egg on top of fresh bread with several slices of bacon…but in a classy way…bacon can be classy, right? Totally…could be the baby talking at this point…

Anyways, point is I have been eating a variety of salads. I usually keep it simple for my dressing – using just straight up balsamic vinegar or one like this Dijon lemon dressing. I have wanted to make a creamy dressing but not really feeling the heavy mayo. I could of course make a yogurt based alternative like I have done in the past with this dip but I wanted to try to kick it up a notch in how nutritious this could be with very simple ingredients. Ones that I believe all of you would have in your pantry/fridge. And would it be possible to do plant-based? What?!? AM I blowing your mind right now?!?

Enter pumpkin seeds.

Yup – that’s right. I made a dressing from pumpkin seeds that looks like traditional Caesar salad dressing (I think) and tastes just as good! Are you excited yet?!?! K, that’s alright because I know once you make this dressing you will be like “HOLY HANNAH THIS TASTES FREAKIN’ AWESOME!!!!!”…one of those ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter’ kind of moments – but in this case you can’t believe it’s not eggs.

What makes this healthy? Well, pumpkin seeds are one of the highest plant-based sources of iron – and for women we need all the iron we can get.  Pair this dressing with the fresh lemon juice (high in vitamin C) and your body will easily absorb the iron. Enjoy this nut-free, vegan, healthy Caesar salad dressing! I sure did!

Healthy Caesar Salad Dressing
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup of raw pumpkin seeds
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • juice from 1 whole lemon
  • 1 tsp capers
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • ½ cup filtered water (or more depending on what consistency you want your dressing)
Instructions
  1. In a skillet on medium low heat, slowly toast pumpkin seeds, stirring frequently so they don't burn. About 10mins (feel free to taste test - when they are done they taste richer). Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. In your food processor with the 'S' blade, place pumpkin seeds and remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth and creamy.
  3. Stir in with romaine lettuce and serve with a slice of fresh lemon!

After creating this recipe I got the idea from Healthful Pursuit to use the dressing as a marinade on some turkey I had in the freezer. I was pleasantly surprised at how good this worked on meat! So even if you are not a big fan of salads, you can try this out on some meat and add even more iron to your diet!