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Raw, Gluten-Free Nanaimo Bars


It is Christmas season, of course, so please forgive my divergence from strictly "healthy" fare... one could argue that I have used high anti- oxidants (raw cacao powder), enzyme-dense sweetening (raw honey), and organic extra virgin coconut oil (among all the other organic ingredients) and therefore, this is a healthy little morsel-- but we both know that that is stretching it a bit!  But it is DELICIOUS and I am guessing that it is healthier than the non-vegan version, and definitely there is no gluten in this recipe.  Scroll down for the history of the Nanaimo bar.  Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!


I used a recipe for raw Nanaimo bars found at the (former) RawBC site, but I like raw honey better than agave, and I didn't have almonds, so used walnuts.  I soaked both the Macadamia nuts and the Walnuts.  The base layer is my least favourite, maybe because I am not particularly fond of Macadamia nuts?  If I were to do it over, I would use all almonds for the base, and I am converting the recipe to just almonds as I transcribe.  Otherwise, this is a treat suited to a Queen (or a visiting mother-in-law).  A teeny-tiny little square satisfies any sweet-tooth.


Layer One: 

1 1/2 c walnuts 
1/3 c shredded coconut 
6-8 dates, pitted 
1 T raw honey
1 T raw cacao powder (optional) 


Process the nuts into crumbs and add the coconut, dates, honey (and raw cacao) until dough starts sticking together. Press it into a 8 inch square pan. 

Layer Two: 

1 c Cashew butter (approx. 1 1/2 C. cashews- soak 8 hours ahead of time) 
3 T Extra Virgin Coconut oil (NOT melted) 
3 T raw honey 
1/2 vanilla bean (seeds) or organic vanilla extract to taste


Process cashews in a food processor with s-blade until turning into butter. If butter is too thick, add some water (about 1/4 c) until it is nice and smooth. Add honey, vanilla (or seeds) and coconut oil last. Pour the mixture over the crust and place it in the fridge or the freezer to set. 

Layer Three: 

1/2 c Extra Virgin coconut oil (melted on low heat in a jar which sits in a pot of water) 
1/2 c raw cacao powder 
3 T raw Honey 
1/2 vanilla bean (seeds) or organic vanilla extract to taste

Mix everything in a bowl and stir until smooth with wood wisk (do not stir too much). Let it cool for about 10 minutes, then pour over the crust and cream layer. Place in the fridge or freezer to set again.  


History of the Nanaimo Bar


In the 1950s, that Golden Era for all North American stay-at-home-moms, Mabel Jenkins from Cowichan Bay on Vancouver Island, B.C., submitted a recipe for squares to a fundraising cookery book.  The recipe was celebrated throughout the province.  Eventually, the 3-layer bar made its way to a number of coffee shops up and down the Commercial Street in Nanaimo.  Americans eating them dubbed them "Nanaimo Bars".  (Nuh- Nī'-Mow) Recipes for very similar desserts have surfaced from all over North America and Europe but thanks to the coffee chains of Tim Horton's and Starbucks, the Nanaimo tag lives on. 

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