YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Chocolate-Pecan Bars (df, gf, vegan, no bake)

My friend Lia brought these to book club a couple weeks ago. OMG. You should make them. Technically they are meant to be dessert, but they would be great for breakfast, too. I would bring them to folks young and old. A reunion of friends. A picnic. A gathering of neighbors. A special meal. An ordinary one.

Food like this creates all kinds of moments, like moments in time and moments of gratitude. It’s a personal reminder that food is meant to nourish not just the body, but the heart and soul as well. And the best is when our food does all three at the same time. Thank you, Lia.

Date-Pecan Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted, natural almond butter
  • 1 ½ cups unsalted pecan halves, divided
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 5-7 pitted Medjool dates (1/2 cup packed)

Chocolate Layer

  • ½ cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup PLUS 1 Tbsp. natural almond butter, unsalted

Topping

  • ¼ cup pecans, chopped

Directions

  1. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, greased foil, or wax paper. Set aside.
  2. To prepare the date-pecan layer, add dates and almond butter to a food processor. Blend approx. one minute until sticky and crumbly, like chunks of wet sand or dough. Scrape down the sides of the processor intermittently, as needed, between processing.
  3. Add 1 cup pecans, vanilla, and salt to food processor. Blend continuously until pecans are fully incorporated and mixture is soft and crumbly. When the mixture holds together when pinched, it’s ready. Add remaining pecans, and pulse only a few times until pecans are just barely incorporated, with medium-small pieces still visible.
  4. Pour the contents into the prepared baking pan. Press gently with a spatula, and smooth into an even, tightly-packed layer.
  5. To prepare the chocolate mixture, add chocolate chips and (¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp.) of almond butter to the top of a double boiler, or heat in a microwave (in a microwave-safe bowl) in 20-second increments until soft and melted. Stir until smooth.
  6. Pour chocolate mixture over date-pecan layer. Smooth into an even layer using a rubber spatula. Sprinkle evenly with chopped pecans, and press gently into the chocolate.
  7. Freeze for 20-30 minutes. Remove from freezer and slice into 16 generous bars or 20 bite-size pieces.

Thank you to Beaming Baker for a prior version of this recipe.


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Yoga-Inspired Recipes

During the recent holidays past, I was given the gift of a yoga calendar by my beloved friend Lee. Tearing off a page every morning has now become an especially joyful and expectant way to start my days. Most of the pages are filled with beautiful messages (some of which are so very special that they get pinned to the cork board the next day), or sometimes a special yoga-position-of-the-week. Very occasionally, I find an inspirational recipe. What I find most awesome is all the different kinds of spices, and the fact that roasting them brings out infinitely more complex flavor profiles. Here, below, are the recipes I’ve enjoyed most of all (so far). Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Peach Pie

A few years ago, a friend of mine got interested in the raw food movement. When she said it changed her life, I thought to myself, “Okay, lots of people say stuff like that.” But I saw the difference. She became more relaxed, energetic, vibrant. She felt better, and I could see it. Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: If You’ve Never Made Charoset…

I’ll be whipping up a second batch of this truly extraordinary charoset (kha-ROE-set) for dinner tomorrow night. In addition to the good old-fashioned, European-style, apples-and-walnuts charoset I make every year, I’ve been rotating through a series of Middle Eastern-style, dried-fruit charoset recipes every year for at least a couple of decades. But I never found one I liked enough to make it again until this year, when I served a bowl of this charoset, which was passed around and around the table until it had been almost emptied! Continue reading