In my kitchen, it’s all about efficiency. I know the location of every pan, knife, and cutting board, and I often have a couple different dishes going at once.
Don’t get me wrong. I love to cook, but it takes up a lot of time, especially when you’re committed to eating healthy, homemade meals as much as possible. That’s why I love recipes that can multitask—you end up getting several meals out of just one hour spent in the kitchen.
Toasted coconut bars are the perfect example: sweet enough to enjoy as dessert, hearty enough for an energizing breakfast, and portable enough to eat on-the-go.
Nutritionally, they also check all the boxes. Packed with four forms of coconut—shredded, flakes, oil, and butter—each bar contains tons of healthy fats, aka medium-chain triglycerides (or MCTs). MCTs not only give the body immediate energy, but also help it burn calories more quickly. So before or after a workout, these bars are a no-brainer.
Another thing that’s plentiful in coconut? Dietary fiber. Foods high in fiber fill us up more easily than others, aid digestion, and keep blood sugar from spiking. The dietary fiber in this recipe balances out the natural sweetness from the dates perfectly, giving you all the energy without the eventual sugar crash.
Plus, the base of these bars is made from just toasted cashews and coconut—no gluten or mystery fillers here. Popping them in the oven for a few minutes brings out the nutty sweetness. Just make sure the coconut and cashews are cool before processing, otherwise the bars will end up oily.
Warming nutmeg, cardamom, and vanilla add some extra depth, and lend an almost cookie dough–like flavor. The best part about these sweet treats? They’re Paleo, vegan, gluten-free, and can even be made raw—just skip the toasting.
So what are you waiting for? I’m practically drooling just typing this—in fact, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make a batch of my own!
Yield: 10 bars
Active Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
2 cups, packed, unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup raw cashew nuts
1 cup, packed, medjool dates, pitted (around 12 dates)
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1/4 teaspoon Maldon salt
1/4 cup coconut butter or coconut manna
1 tablespoon coconut oil
Coconut flakes, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
On baking sheet, toast shredded coconut and cashews in oven for 5 minutes, or until golden and fragrant. Let cool.
Place toasted coconut, cashews, dates, spices, and salt in the bowl of food processor and pulse until crumb-sized. Add coconut butter and 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil and process until mixture begins to clump. If too dry, add the additional 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil.
Press the mixture into the pan, compress, and flatten evenly. Press coconut chips onto the batter. Place in freezer for 15 to 20 minutes and then slice into 10 bars, each 4×1-1/4-inch. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.
Hint: Spraying the tin with a little cooking spray helps the paper adhere to the pan.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont
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