Nanaimo bars definitely aren’t the first food that comes to mind when I think of weight loss – they aren’t even on the radar. But by Zuzana Fajkusova and Nikki Lefler don’t believe in deprivation. In fact, their recent book, Vegan Weight Loss Manifesto, has a whole section for indulgences! It includes the raw Nanaimo bars recipe below.
The first third of this attractive book covers nutrition, fitness, and creating healthy rituals. It’s a road map that leads you to an enticing collection of recipes with full color photos.
As a heads up, some of the information in Vegan Weight Loss Manifesto throws you to more resources on their website. You do have to sign up to gain access (and submit a credit card), but it is free to access for up to eight weeks. After your free trial is up, you can opt to continue or not. And of course, all of the information and recipes in the book are still in your hands. These raw Nanaimo bars are just a sample of the deliciousness you will find inside.
These raw Nanaimo bars do contain some very decadent ingredients, but Zuzana and Nikki say they are worth the splurge. They boast this recipe as a healthy treat that curbs sweet cravings and supports cardiovascular health. And this is why they chose to include this particular sweet in Vegan Weight Loss Manifesto.
As we are two proud Canadians, this dessert spread wouldn’t be complete without Nanaimo bars. Layers of chewy coconut, creamy custard and sweet chocolate come together in this classic BC treat that’s truly a fan favorite from coast to coast. We gave this famed Canadian dessert, traditionally made with loads of butter and sugar, a healthy vegan makeover.
Special Diet Notes: Raw Nanaimo Bars
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian.
- 1 cup (75 g) unsweetened shredded coconut
- ½ cup (75 g) pitted dates
- ½ cup (50 g) dried cranberries
- ½ cup (85 g) almonds, soaked for 12 hours or overnight
- ¼ cup (28 g) raw cacao powder
- 2 cups (222 g) raw cashews, soaked 4 to 6 hours or overnight
- ¼ cup (60 ml) maple syrup
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) melted coconut oil
- 4 tbsp (60 ml) lemon juice
- 2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla extract
- 1 (100 g) 80 to 85% dark vegan chocolate bar (preferably raw)
- 2 tbsp (28 g) coconut oil
- 3 tbsp (34 g) cacao nibs
- For the bottom layer, coat a small square cake pan with coconut oil or line it with parchment paper.
- Add all of the bottom layer ingredients to a food processor fitted with the S blade. Process until the mixture is broken down and begins to stick together. Scrape down the sides of the food processor as needed.
- Press the crust into the bottom of your prepared pan using a spatula. Place the dish in the refrigerator.
- For the middle layer, rinse the soaked cashews and blend all of the middle layer ingredients in a clean food processor until you have a smooth cream filling, about 8 to 10 minutes. Spread the cream evenly on the top of the base and put the dish back into the refrigerator.
- For the top layer, place the vegan dark chocolate and coconut oil in a small pot and melt over low heat. Make sure you keep mixing as it melts so it doesn’t burn.
- Pour the chocolate layer over the middle layer and finally, sprinkle with cacao nibs.
- Return the pan to the refrigerator. Allow the chocolate and the bars to firm up for about 3 hours or overnight before slicing.
- Keep bars in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.