First let me get this disclaimer off my chest, and then you can proceed with/alter this recipe as you choose: *That blustery fall day you decide to hone in on your food blogger skills and develop the BEST.DANG.PUMPKIN.BARS.EVER. ..they are light, fluffy, delicious, and super healthy, so you broadcast the pics and recipe from here to kingdom come all over the internet.. and then 8 hours later, after sitting covered on a warm oven all day, you dive in for round two and these delicious bars now look like Kale/Spinach bars with super-appetizing deep green veining..Because Chemistry. Turns out Sun Butter and Baking Soda do some weird $#!* when they are put together..It has to do with Chlorogenic Acid (a wonderful antioxidant that makes up chlorophyll in plants) combining with the base in the baking soda to create a crazy green pigment throughout the baked goods..it tastes the same, just looks kind of Spinachy (is that a word????)….Argh..After just watching the 2nd Presidential debate tonight, and needing a sweet fix to make everything better, the green splotchy glory was the next kick in the pants that I didn’t even know I needed!!!! Welcome to my world 🙂 Hahahaha #UnintendedConsequences ..But, I have to say, I’ve made these bars with almond butter as well, and I just really enjoy the mild flavor of the sunbutter, so proceed with whichever color palette you desire 😉
So anyway, back to my original, enlightened, deliciously inspired blog:
Is it just me, or do the Autumn winds awaken a primal urge to fire up the oven, fill our homes with the smells of baking apples, pumpkins, and cinnamon, and delve in face first with a frenzied mission to add on some fluff to our cold-weather waist lines? Ok…maybe the first two, the fluff just kinda follows as an after effect.
Well, I literally worked my tookus off this summer, trying to eat clean, and I’d even worked up to 5 miles of run/walk/hiking/…(ok sometimes wheezing and crawling) a few times a week, and I had lost about 15 lbs of god-forsaken “fluff”, finally!!! Now, after feeling kinda lousy all month, and having to start all over again with running down hill for a half mile and still feeling like I may be a walking heart attack for the adjacent 12 hours, I have resolved to fight the Pumpkin Spice call of the wild to begin hibernation/insulation-building mode that has been my normal autumnal m.o.
These amazingly filling, slightly sweet Pumpkin Spice, Fruit & Nut Harvest Bars are the perfect coping mechanism to get your week off to a healthy, satiated start. They are grain & dairy free, low in added sweeteners, and are chock full of healthy fiber and protein. One 300 calorie bar left me satisfied until about 2 pm this afternoon. And yes, maybe, just maybe, they look even more delicious on my Spice Flower Tableware (ha! I never promised this blog would be absent of shameless Artistic plugs 😉 )
It is very hard for me to abide by the strict rules of a recipe..I’m the kinda hippie chic that rebels against staying in the lines, or maybe it’s just that I never quite remember what I put in to my favorite dish last week, so every version is a little bit of culinary adventure..However, for you, this morning, I made a point to be very exact and document what I put into these nutritious bars (sub in: basicallly everything including the kitchen sink). But if you are a free spirit like me, feel free to make deletions, substitutions, etc…I may even offer a few suggestions down below. This version is vegetarian, grain-free, dairy-free, and paleo friendly. I would classify it as clean, but would never presume to know just how “clean” your eating is…All I know is “clean” living can be a LOT of pressure in this fanatical world..so, this is my best, busy mama-has-lots-of $#!*-to-do-everyday version of clean.. so goodness knows if it’s good enough for you, but today, it sure is good enough for me and mine (oops, sorry for the mini rant).
Guilt-Free Pumpkin Spice Harvest Fruit & Nut Bars
- 3 tbsp coconut oil (for greasing pan and crumble topping)
- 1.5 cups pumpkin puree
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 4 eggs
- 2/3 cup Stevia Baking mix
- 1 cup Sun Butter or Almond Butter *see disclaimer 😉
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 1/4 cup ground Flax
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 1 1/4 cup Almond flour (divided between mixture and topping)
- 1.5 tsp baking soda
- 3 tsp good cinamon (divided between mixture and topping)
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1.5 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup diced apple (I prefer Granny Smith or Honeycrisp)
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 2/3 cup chopped pecans
- 1/3 cup roasted, hulled pumpkin seeds (salted or unsalted, up to you)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Grease 13×9″ glass baking dish with 1 tbsp of coconut oil
- In a large mixing bowl combine 1.5 cups of pumpkin puree, 1 cup of Thai Coconut Milk, 4 beaten eggs, 2/3rd cup Stevia in the Raw Baking Mix (here’s where you could substitute in 3/4 cups of maple or agave syrup if you prefer a different natural sweetener), 1 cup Sun Butter (you can also use almond butter or natural peanut butter), 1 tsp. Vanilla, stir well until the nut butter is well mixed into the wet ingredients.
- In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients: 1/4 cup ground flax seed, 1/4 cup chia seeds (both of these are optional, but they add amazing fiber, protein, and satiating powers to the bar for extra energy.) 1/2 cup almond flour, 1.5 tsp baking soda, 2 tsp of good cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and 1 tsp of kosher salt. Mix well and then stir into the wet ingredients bowl.
- Now here’s where you can tear out your kitchen sink and choose to throw it in as well…The possibilites of nuts and dried fruit are endless (I’m thinking dried cherries, cranberries, or apricots for the next go-a-round). But this time, I diced up 2 small Honeycrisp apples (about 1 cup small diced apple), 1 cup golden raisins, and 1 cup unsweetened organic coconut flakes. Fold in to the batter until well mixed.
- Pour mixture into greased baking dish
- In another small bowl I made a crumble topping: 3/4 cup almond flour, 2/3 cups finely chopped pecans, 1/3 cup roasted, hulled pumpkin seeds, a pinch of kosher salt (about 1/2 tsp), 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 2 tbs coconut oil. (If you aren’t a fanatic about grain-free, you could substitute in 3/4 cups of quick steel cut oats for the almond flour for a rich crunchy crumble)..I mixed these ingredients together with a fork until it became a nice crumble, and then sprinkled over the pumpkin mixture in the baking dish.
- Bake for 35-38 minutes until crumble top is golden, and the center is firm.
- Freeze left over bars.
- Makes 20-24 generous sized bars. The larger bars have about 300 calories, 7 g of Fiber, 21 g healthy Fat, 8 g of Protein, & only 13 g of natural Sugars.
- One last free-bird, hippie chic, fly by the seat of her pants disclaimer, after letting these delicious bars sit warm, covered on her counter, this afternoon: Holy Mother of Pinterest, Batman…so the delicious fluffy bars started getting dark forest green patches in them this evening… I researched it and the baking soda has a chemical reaction with the sun butter, causing a green color change(it’s because of an amazing antioxidant in the Sunbutter, Chlorogenic acid, think Chlorophyll, which reacts with the base in the baking soda to change color, still delicious, just looks a little too leafy, haha!…you may want to use almond butter instead, even though the Sun Butter adds a very nice nutty, mild flavor!! It’s up to you! As an artist, I personally think golds, oranges, and dark greens look FABULOUS for Fall!! Yikes 🙂
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