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!




Grief and Date Squares (A Gluten-Free,Updated Version!)

Gluten-Free Vegan Date Square

I mentioned in my last post that there had been a lot of crazy things that had happened in my 6 week postpartum period.  One thing that I have been dealing with, is the loss of my Grandmother. A woman who influenced almost every decision in my life – from the way I part my hair, to the man I chose to live my life with and how I make stuffing for a turkey. She was a woman who I wish all women had someone like her in their lives. Because my Grandmother always made me feel good when I saw her and supported me through and through. She was so much of an influence on me that I named my most recent child after her.

Gluten-Free Vegan Date Square

My Grandmother would be the first person I would call when I had new and exciting news. It is hard for me to think that I can no longer pick up the phone and call her and tell her some good news. I don’t think I’ve ever felt grief like this before. Last year when we lost our dog, I did feel grief for a short period, but not like this. It is that feeling in your throat where you want to clear it all the time, in fear that you may break into tears if you don’t. The simplest thing can trigger it – a song on the radio, a flower at a park, or a glance at your children’s smiles.

So what do I do when the grief begins to take over my day? How am I to cope with this emotion that I have never really experienced before? I have two children that I am responsible for taking care of. My fear is that the grief would take over my day – making each day harder to get through and eventually lead to depression. Some people may cope by delving into work or a bottle of wine. Since I’m on maternity leave and breastfeeding, those are not options for me. But don’t get me wrong, I have consumed a lot more chocolate lately… However, I am trying to recognize the emotions I’m feeling as they come in the day. When the day is hard to get through, or I begin to feel terribly home sick, I reach out to my family and friends for conversation. It may be a quick talk to my husband or a text message to my sister to help me. Usually the conversation ends with a happy memory of my Grandmother which allows me to feel some comfort knowing that she lived a long life and was able to experience all that she did. And how lucky am I to have had a woman in my life who was such a positive influence? She made each of my brothers and sisters and me feel special in an individually unique way. I am go grateful to have had that.

Gluten-Free Vegan Date Square

This recipe was originally posted here on Roll With It on December 3 of 2012 during the ’12 Days of Naughty made Nice!’. It is the number one post that brings people to my site from a google search. When I was dealing with gestational diabetes, there were several recipes that I adjusted so I could still eat some sweets without spiking my sugars. My gluten-free, vegan date square was one of them. I changed what I used to sweeten the squares and what was use to bind them. These changes added more fiber and lowered the carbohydrate amount making them even nicer! Better in nutrition AND in texture. So, you are welcome!

Gluten-Free, Vegan, Date Squares
Updated from original recipe posted on December 3rd, 2012.
  • 1½ cup dates, pitted & diced
  • 1 cup water
  • pinch of sea salt
  • zest of ½ lemon, juice of 1 whole lemon
  • 6 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • ½ cup of walnuts, blended in food processor until crumbly
  • 1¾ cup quick oats (gluten-free)
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds soaked in ½ cup water for at least 5mins
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  1. Combine the dates, water, sea salt lemon zest and juice in a sauce pan over medium high heat. Heat for about 10 mins until soft and paste-like. Set aside in bowl and let cool before using.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine coconut oil, walnuts, brown rice flour, oats, coconut sugar, soaked chia seeds & baking soda to make the crumb.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Line an 8″ x 8″ pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with some coconut oil. Take half of the crumb mixture and press into pan. Layer on the cooled date paste. Cover with remaining crumb mixture.
  5. Bake in oven for 35-45 mins. Let cool before cutting into squares. Can be stored in the freezer for several weeks or in the refrigerator for one week.