Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Protein Nanaimo Bars

I remember the first time I had a Nanaimo Bar. It was the mint one...you know, with the green filling? It looked like a Reptar Bar in real life, what beats that when you are 9?

I don't think any other dessert even came close to mint Nanaimo bars. It was such a special treat that I only got during very rare occasions and I always dreamt of those bars in the long moments between their appearances.

If you have never had a Nanaimo bar (you are missing out...but it's okay because I got your back!) it's a layered bar dessert with a chocolate coconut fudgey brownie type base with a middle layer of a thick custard and topped with chocolate ganache. It's absolutely unreal and comes in many variations but I chose to stick to the traditional cream middle for my first attempt!

So, well these may not be mint -- but don't worry...I am working on it! And I must say...these are pretty unreal.

So... can you forgive me?

Not even if I give you...a NANAIMO {PROTEIN} BAR?!?!??!

All is forgiven? Oh thank goodness!

These are a healthy, protein-ified version of the holiday classic -- which did you know was named after the place it was founded in Nanaimo, British Columbia?

It's true.

All the best things are Canadian, aren't they? Nanaimo bars, poutine, maple syrup --the beaver? ALL THE BEST THINGS.

These bars are a sinfully moist bar topped with a vanilla cream in the middle and finally covered in a dark chocolate ganache. And they have lots of healthy delicious things in them! These. Are. AMAZING.

It's not rational or nice to keep these from you, it's just not. So please, read the recipe and get to making some CANADA, CANADA!

Protein Nanaimo Bars 

Yields 32 Small Bars 

Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, High Protein 


Base/Bottom Layer

  • 1 1/3 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup chocolate brown rice protein powder
  • 1/3 cup peanut flour (or more oat flour)
  • 2-3 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds or other finely chopped nuts  
  • 1/2 cup peanut or almond butter
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or honey 
  • 5-10 drops of liquid Stevia (I used Now Foods English Toffee Flavour)
  • 1/3 cup almond milk

White Cream Middle Layer

  • 1/3 cup dairy or non-dairy cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder of choice
  • 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 5 drops liquid Stevia (like Now Foods Vanilla Stevia Drops)

Chocolate/Top Layer 

  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips or any dark chocolate broken into small pieces 
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil 


Base Layer 
  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix together until combined
  2. In a small saucepan, combine extracts and flavourings, peanut butter and maple syrup/honey until you have a uniform liquid
  3. Add liquid to dry mixture and combine, adding almond milk until a large ball of dough forms. If mixture crumbles, add small amounts of almond milk until dough forms
  4. Press mixture firmly into an 8x8 square pan lined with plastic wrap or aluminum foil 
  5. Set in fridge 30- 60 minutes before adding next layer

Middle Cream Layer

  1. Combine all ingredients until smooth and a whipped texture, adding a touch of maple syrup or honey if mixture does not spread easily 
  2. Evenly spread cheesecake layer over base
  3. Set in fridge at least 30 minutes before adding chocolate layer

Chocolate Layer

  1. Melt chocolate chips in microwave until fully melted
  2. Stir in coconut oil until chocolate becomes thin and liquidy
  3. Spread in an even layer over cheesecake layer
  4. If desired add chocolate chips, nuts, other toppings while chocolate is still wet
  5. Allow to set in fridge for at least an hour before serving 
  6. Cut into 16 bars and serve! Keep leftovers refrigerated (if you have any!) 

*Serving tip: Wipe the knife you use to cut the bars with a damp, warm washcloth to minimize breaks -- I didn't mind that mine did, but you can definitely try to avoid it if the breaks in the chocolate bother you! Taking it out 5-10 minutes before serving will also help soften the chocolate so it does not snap or crack when you cut it!*

They are so lovely, even before you cut them! Another fun tip? For a smooth top, after you spread your melted chocolate ganache on your bars give the pan a tap on the counter to get a nice flat layer! 

I even like the scraggly edges!

I got 32 bars out of the 8x8 pan. A little goes a long way and I wanted to keep the traditional Nanaimo bar shape!

I did make two batches of these. The first batch had less cream, was topped with chocolate chips and did not have coconut or walnuts in the base. The recipe worked out just fine but I posted the second version which I preferred much more!

These are the most deceptive healthy treat in the UNIVERSE...Dare I even say, galaxy?

The base is a fudgey and brownie like chocolate base with hints of cocoa and coconut coming through. The cream layer is so smooth and silky that it perfectly contrasts the dark chocolatey base.

And in true Nanaimo fashion, it is topped with a beautiful chocolate layer.

You can see the chocolate chip version below -- it still tastes AWESOME... So awesome I knocked the entire container on the floor when I was taking pictures for the blog.

Floor Nanaimo's are not my favourite kind....

I sobbed like a baby while my mom helped me pick up all my treats off of the floor. I wish I could say that was the first time I ever cried over my treats but that would be a lie. 9/10 times I cry at some point in the process, shaking my wooden spoon angrily at the sky asking the protein powers that be why they have forsaken me.

At that point my mom comes in because she is sweet with a heart of gold and then I cry and scream and wave my arms frantically sobbing about chocolate chips and interject her calming words with bursts of the  'the - the - the - the *insert baked item here* fellllllllllll and and and I - I RUINED EVERYTHING!!!!!'

I am not a zen baker. Not in the slightest.

So if you loved Nanaimo bars, still love Nanaimo bars, love Canada or just plain love moist and delicious creamy treats without the sugar and processed ingredients....then please... make these protein Nanaimo bars!

Even if you drop them on the floor -- there is always floor Nanaimos and while they are not my favourite they are still prettyyyyy good!

I brought these to work and brought some to family who I knew would appreciate it and everyone LOVED these. I am actually shocked at how decadent they taste. So chocolatey and creamy. Really really really delicious. 

If you do make them I would love to see them! You can follow me on social media (all links in the side bar) and send me a picture! I get very excited at the mere THOUGHT of someone trying my goodies. I really do appreciate the support!

Happy Floor Cooking!


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