Raw Avocado Coconut Nanaimo Bars

avocado nanaimo bars

There is a new cookbook on my shelf and I'm super excited about it. Rawsome Vegan Baking: An Un-cookbook for Raw, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Beautiful and Sinfully Sweet Cookies, Cakes, Bars & Cupcakes by Emily von Euw is all about sweet treats, all raw, gluten-free and vegan. Covered are old classics ranging from cookies, cakes, bars and cupcakes, pies and tarts, puddings and ice cream with a creative twist. Apart from the stunning and drool inducing photos that adorn each page, I was immediately struck by the unique selections that are essentially guilt-free.

Looking at the photos, you would think eating such decadent looking desserts would lead to a spike in your blood sugar, but in fact, the treats and desserts are actually good for you. Dried and fresh fruits and raw nuts are prominently featured and sweeteners, when they are used, are natural ones, such as maple syrup. Another especially appealing aspect of the book is that pretty much all of the basic ingredients are ones that you are likely to have on hand. No need to hunt around for unfamiliar ingredients that you may only use a few times, leaving them only to languish in the cupboard.

The first recipe I tried was one for raw peanut butter cookies from the multiple ones that I bookmarked. Next up was a this one for raw Nanaimo bars. My usual version of this classic treat is served only rarely on special occasions because they are so decadent. Needless to say, this much healthier version appealed to me. My best friend Basil has been hoping for years that I might come up with a variation that was not so laden with processed sugars, and this was just the right alternative.

raw avocado nanaimo bars

I was amazed at how much they actually tasted like the usual custard-filled Nanaimo bar. Creamy avocado is a perfect substitution for custard and the crust, made up of dried fruit and almonds, makes for a perfect cookie-like naturally sweet base. Coconut oil helps bind together the middle layer and the cocoa topping. Sweetened also with maple syrup, you can enjoy this raw rich treat with minimal guilt. These delights literally melt in your mouth. The Nanaimo bars come highly recommended from my kitchen as does this cookbook.

Note: received a copy of this book for possible review. As always, the opinions expressed here are my own.

Raw Avocado Coconut Nanaimo BarsRaw Avocado Coconut Nanaimo Bars
Recipe by
Adapted from Rawsome Vegan Baking: An Un-cookbook for Raw, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Beautiful and Sinfully Sweet Cookies, Cakes, Bars & Cupcakes
Cuisine: Canadian
Published on April 16, 2014

Healthy, raw Nanaimo bars with an avocado and coconut "custard" — as rich as the original but guilt-free

Preparation: 20 minutes

Print this recipePrint this recipe

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 3/4 cup pitted dates
  • 1/3 cup pitted prunes
  • 1 heaping tablespoon cocoa
Middle layer:
  • 2 medium avocados, pitted and peeled
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup fresh young coconut meat
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • a few pinches of sea salt
Top layer:
  • generous 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Line a 9 × 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper.

  • To make the base, blend together all of the ingredients in a food processor until a fairly sticky mass forms that holds together. Transfer to the prepared baking pan and spread evenly. Tear off a sheet of waxed paper, cover the pan and press the base down firmly. Transfer to the refrigerator.

  • To make the middle layer, blend all of the ingredients until smooth. Spread this over the base and return to the refrigerator.

  • For the top layer, mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl with a fork or whisk until smooth. Add a bit more oil if the topping is not of a pourable enough consistency. Pour the mixture over the middle layer, quickly spread it evenly with a spatula, and return to the refrigerator.

  • When the bars are set and firm, cut with a sharp knife and serve. Keep any remainders in the refrigerator, covered.

  • Notes: I made a few modifications to the original recipe — notably, I reduced the quantity of dates and made up the difference with prunes but feel free to use all dates instead. You may also want to sub banana for the coconut meat — if so, store in the freezer as suggested by the author to make ice cream sandwiches. If you can't find young coconut meat, try blending some dried coconut with a bit of water until you have a fairly thick mixture. Feel free to add some peppermint oil to the filling too if you want a minty flavor. The main adaptation I made to the recipe was for the topping — the quantity of ingredients did not yield enough pourable topping for my liking, so I essentially doubled the list of ingredients which is reflected in the recipe shared here.

  • Be sure to store any remainders in the refrigerator. You may also want to pop them in the freezer for a few hours before cutting them with a sharp knife.

Makes 12 to 16 bars

raw nanaimo bars

Other raw treats you are sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Raw Peanut Butter Cookies
Quinoa Nut and Fruit Protein Bars
Cocoa Fruit Energy Bites
Cocoa Almond Brownie Bites


janet @ the taste space said...

Woah! I love the sparkling green filling, Lisa. With all the positive reviews, I really want to check out this cookbook. As you know, I love the ease of raw treats. :)

Melissa said...

thanks for the chance to win! my favorite good-for-you sweet would have to be Emily's choco mint almond bars. so good! i really want that book.

Unknown said...

I'm drooling! Those look soooo tasty! My favorite good-for-you treat is raw cocao maca truffles....what can I say, I'm a chocoholic!

Unknown said...

I absolutely love Em's blog! One of my favourite good for you raw treats is medjool dates stuffed with nut butter. I'm currently on a macadamia almond butter kick....so yummy, I'm eating it out of the jar right now :)

Anonymous said...

These look amazing! I love Nanaimo Bars and never would have thought to put avocado in them. Thanks for sharing!!

Maddie (Hungry Curious) said...

Can't wait to try these! I love love eating peanut butter stuffed dates! So easy and they taste like raw PB cookies!

alcatmom said...

Wow! So many delicious recipes! Any of the ones with ginger would be awesome. Avocado in desserts - who would have thunk it! Yummy.

Unknown said...

Raw avocado in a bar, there's a revelation! Wonderful x

Joanne said...

I do love the idea of experimenting with raw treats! These bars look excellent! So tasty you wouldn't miss the dairy, eggs, or cooking!

Michelle said...

My new favourite desserts are raw. The book sounds amazing.

Jess said...

Ooh, I love Nanaimo bars. I would love to try a healthier version. My favorite treat, though, is anything combining chocolate and caramel.

Light Food Desire said...

This treat sounds yumlicious, bookmarked to try! My favorite good for you sweet treat is date and walnut cookies.

Unknown said...

Wow, that looks amazing! I love your Indian vegetarian recipes, but I appreciate an occasional diversion, especially when you post a healthy raw vegan dessert since I used to be a raw vegan for 3 years. My favorite raw vegan desserts are cheesecake and tiramisu.

Sonya said...

So looking forward to making this recipe for an upcoming baby shower. I am sure it will be all the rage. My favorite good for you sweet treat is So Delicious Dairy free Cultured Coconut in Vanilla flavor.

Andrea said...

I love date coconut bars. They are so soft and creamy, they're almost like eating cookie dough! This book looks amazing. I've made a couple of the recipes you've posted and I'd love to win a copy.

Anonymous said...

Wow !! yummy looking treat Lisa !! Never knew avocado could be used in a sweet. WOuld love to receive a copy of Emily's cookbook. My favorite good for you sweet treat would be Arrowroot and nuts Halwa. It consists of arrowroot powder mixed in jaggery syrup and stirred into a Halwa consistency and topped with nuts.

RD said...

Thank you for the giveaway! I will be making your date tahini bars this weekend - sound so scrumptious and healthy!

My favorite sweet to indulge in are these no-bake granola bars with dates, honey, peanut-butter, almonds and oats.

rika@vm said...

Thanks for the awesome giveaway, I really want this cookbook! I followed and liked your Facebook page (I go by Rika...). I love all sorts of raw cakes and pies, especially cheesecakes and caramel-based desserts, miam!

rika@vm said...

My e-mail can be found @ my contact page on my blog.

Shaheen said...

You have convinced me now, this book is on my wish list. Thank you Lisa.