No Bake Nanaimo Bars

Decadent, delightful, and delicious! Bet you can’t eat just one!

Nanaimo bars: Canada’s contribution to the culinary scene. Traditionally a Nanaimo bar is composed of a chocolate walnut graham cracker and coconut bar base, a custard middle layer, and a bittersweet chocolate coating.  Nanaimo bars were a big treat growing up, and would appear once every five Christmas’. Although one of my favourites, I would always leave the custard on the plate and the crunchy chocolate top annoyed me when it meant that the delicious bottom got smooched into the custard when biting in. So I decided to change all of this, and make these healthy, decadent Nanaimo bars that far surpass the original!

My creative criteria were as follows:

1) Due to the heat wave, absolutely no cooking! This means no oven, no stovetop. As a result, these Nanaimo bars are 100% raw!
2) No coconut to bind the base
3) Ditch the custard, and make the top less crunchy (but no less chocolaty!)
4) Make the bars as nutrient rich as possible, in case of a power bar emergency (or guilt complex for eating half the pan!)

I was successful on all four counts. The stove stayed off, no coconut was used in production, and the custard was ditched for a banana soft-serve pudding. The topping is a no-bake ganache that retains the bittersweet chocolate flavour but allows you to bite into every delicious morsel of bar. Finally, with my substitutions the bar is roughly equivalent in nutrition to a Larabar, complete with the appropriate protein:glucose ratio for the perfect post-workout snack. The bars themselves don’t take long to make, and with the chill time between layers you have the opportunity to clean the food processor, if you are so inclined. So dig into these decadent bars with zero guilt and enjoy this modified Canadiana treat!

Recipe notes: This recipe can easily be made gluten free if you use gluten free oats. Also, due to size variations of dates this recipe has only been tested with dried dates. 60g. dried dates is roughly one cup, but 60g. Medjool dates may only be 1-2. Finally, I keep all my bananas in the freezer for banana soft serve creations. I’m sure the filling layer would work with fresh bananas, but you may have to chill the layer longer to allow the filling to set.

Filling flavour suggestions: Although the one below is similar to the classic custard, why not mix and match flavours? Any soft serve flavour would work here. Top choices would be adding 1-2 tbsp. peanut butter, or a fruit medley mix – let these bars be your canvas!

No-Bake Nanaimo Bars

Base:
1 cup rolled oats, divided
60g. dates (~15 dried) *if dried, soaked in 1 cup water, reserve liquid
1 cup almonds
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. cinnamon

Directions:
1) In food processor, pulse ¾ cup oats until flour consistency
2) Add almonds and cocoa powder. Process until crumbly
3) Add dates, vanilla, and cinnamon. Process until dough forms. *If using dried dates, add reserved soaking water as required
4) Add remaining ¼ cup oats. Pulse to combine
5) Press into greased 9×13” pan. Chill in freezer.

Filling:
5 tbsp. almond milk or soy yogurt (or other non-dairy milk and yogurt offerings)
¾ cup frozen banana, sliced
¼ tsp. vanilla
pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Directions:
1) In food processor, process all ingredients until smooth.
2) Spread on top of base. Freeze.

Chocolate Ganache:
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
½ tsp. ground flaxseed

Directions:
1) In food processor, process all ingredients until smooth.
2) Pour over filling. Freeze.

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