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Blueberry Cashew Bars

A vegan picnic calls for hummus, pita bread, veggies, sweet potato chips, guacamole, apples and peanut butter — but the missing link is the dessert. To add a sweet something to the menu, I made these blueberry cashew bars that were marketed as cheesecake bars but really take on their own nutty consistency. They are full of flavor and delicious to all, regardless of following a raw or vegan diet.

Blueberry cashew bars

The recipe was adapted from Choosing Raw.

~ 1 1/2 cups walnuts
~ 1 cup raisins
~ 1 cup apricots, cut into bites
~ 1 cup blueberries
~ 1 cup cashews, soaked in water for at least 2 hours and drained
~ 1/3 cup maple syrup

1. To make the bottom layer, place the walnuts, raisins and apricots in a food processor and pulse to break the ingredients down. Process until the mixture is ground up and sticking together when you squeeze a little in your hand.

2. Press the bottom layer into a 9 x 9-inch pan that is lined with aluminum foil, and chill.

3. To make the top layer, process the blueberries, cashews and syrup in a food processor until they’re as smooth as possible, about two minutes. Pour the top layer over the bottom layer in the pan. Use a spatular to smooth the top layer evenly.

4. Refrigerate for at least three hours. Cut into bars and serve.

Makes 15-20 bars.

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Raw Brownies

When you see the name raw brownies, what does that make you think of? I was initially drawn to this recipe when reading The Oprah Magazine because I love chocolate but also because these health movements are all the rage right now. The raw food diet is one of the most extreme in which you can’t eat foods cooked above 104 degrees. Other than the raw food diet, recently gluten-free diets have risen in popularity. Initially gluten-free eaters were only those who suffered from celiac disease. Now some people are choosing to eliminate anything with wheat in it, purely for health benefits.

So when I saw raw I knew it was going to have veggies in it. How do veggies and brownies go together? Simple. Lots of cookies and other baked goods incorporate veggies into their ingredient list such as cookies with zucchini and sweet potatoes. The raw brownies that I made have avocado as their vegetable ingredient.

The recipe was taken from The Oprah Magazine.

Base:
~ 2 cups pecans (or walnuts)
~ 13 oz pitted dates
~ 1/8 tsp coarse sea salt
~ 1/8 tsp orange zest
~ 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
~ 1 avocado, pitted and peeled
~ 1/2 cup cocoa powder

Frosting:
~ 2 avocados, pitted and peeled
~ 1/8 tsp sea salt
~ 1/2 cup cocoa powder
~ 1/2 cup agave nectar, plus more to taste

Note: The original recipe calls for 3 avocados in the frosting. I used two and there was a heaping amount of frosting to cover the brownie base.

1. In a food processor, mix all base ingredients.
2. Press down the mixture of base ingredients in an 8-inch square baking pan.
3. Puree all frosting ingredients in a food processor and spread on base.
4. Cover and freeze at least 3 hours. Cute into 2-inch squares and serve cold.

Because there is no liquid component in the base, mixing the ingredients in a food processor can prove difficult. Instead make sure that the pecans, dates and avocado and broken into small enough pieces to be integrated; then mix by hand in a bowl.

This recipe is good for those who want to have a decadent dessert to serve but don’t have time to prepare it right beforehand. Beware that if you tell people what is in the brownies, they may be resistant to eat them. In reality, the brownies don’t taste like they have avocados in them if the base mixture is integrated well enough. Also be sure to taste the frosting before covering the brownie mixture as extra agave nectar may be required to offset the avocado flavor.

On another note for those who love to eat healthy (even when you’re eating dessert), these are perfect for you. While dessert without fat is sometimes hard to avoid, these brownies have healthy fats from the nuts and the avocado. Indulge because you can feel good about what you’re eating.

Would you try these brownies if you knew the ingredient list? Comment with your answer below!

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