Reduced Fat Nanaimo Bars
Happy Canada Day, eh!
As a true, born-and-raised Canadian I thought I would make a classic dessert from the country currently above me here in the US.  It might not have maple syrup in it, but it sure is Canadian  ;)
Reduced Fat Nanaimo Bars
We call this dessert, “Nanaimo Bars!”  Strange name, right?  Well, it might ring a bell because this isn’t the first time I’ve made it…  I made Nanaimo Bars last February but I decided to revisit my recipe.  Even though my bars were absolutely friggin delicious and were gobbled up in less than five seconds minutes flat, I got some flak from a commenter saying, “Nanaimo Bars they are not.”
*sad face*
Reduced Fat Nanaimo Bars
But I totally agreed with him, the “crust” was a no-bake base made of not-so-authentic ingredients (like coconut butter, coconut milk, chocolate and oats).  At the time I hadn’t made my healthy homemade graham cracker recipe yet and didn’t want to purchase crackers from the store that were full of refined sugars, starches and processed flours.  I was also living at a high altitude so I wouldn’t be able to post a recipe that everyone could make (that means the majority of you who live at sea-level!) because baking at different altitudes has an effect on the baking temperature and measurements…  such a hassle, but that’s the science of baking for ya.  The filling in my older recipe was suuuper delicious, but it was a tad bit gooey.  Once again, not so authentic.  Oh, and then my chocolate topping layer was “too thick.”  Like that’s a crime.  Let’s sue everyone who likes a little extra chocolate on their desserts!!
Just kidding, I’m totally not mad!  If the layer of chocolate was supposed to be thinner, I will make it thinner.  But to fit in some extra chocolate (because that’s what every chocoholic thinks about doing to their food) I would just eat the Nanaimo Bar with a glass of chocolate almond milk  ;D
Reduced Fat Nanaimo Bars
Focus on the good things in life and make these Nanaimo Bars — a soft graham cracker crust infused with chocolate and coconut, a filling with a sweet vanilla flavor and a topping of rich dark chocolate — Because a decadent (yet healthy) dessert is what turns an “OK” day into a “holy-crap-freakin’-AMAZING” day.

Nanaimo Bars [revisited]

Yield: 9 large or 16 small


  • 1+1/2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs (I used homemade)
  • 60g (1 cup) Reduced Fat Shredded Coconut
  • 20g (1/4 cup) Regular Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 246g (1 cup) Unsweetened Applesauce
  • 1 tsp Butter Extract
  • 1/2 cup Chopped Almonds, Pecans or Walnuts (optional, I omitted)
  • Filling:**
  • 3/4 cup - 1 tbs Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • 64g (1/4 cup) Neutral Nut Butter (like cashew or almond, I used raw Brazil nut)
  • 2 tsp Stevia Extract
  • 1 tsp Butter Extract
  • 126g (6 scoops) Vanilla Brown Rice Protein Powder (I used SunWarrior)
  • 24g (3 tbs) Bird's Custard Powder (more protein powder might replace this if you don't have it)
  • Topping:
  • 3.5oz 85% Cacao Chocolate (or chocolate of choice)
  • 1 tsp Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Stevia Extract


    For the Crust:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line an 8" brownie pan with parchment paper both ways.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, coconut, cocoa powder and salt.
  3. Stir in the applesauce and butter extract, then the optional nuts (mixture should be soft yet thick cookie dough)
  4. Press mixture into the prepared pan and flatten. Dock the crust every inch or so, bake for ~22 minutes, or until firm to touch. Let sit on the counter while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
  5. For the Filling:
  6. In a large bowl, whisk together the almond milk, nut butter and extracts.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together the protein powder and custard powder. Dump into the wet ingredients and fold together (mixture should be very thick, like cookie dough)
  8. Scoop over the slightly warm crust and flatten.
  9. For the Topping:
  10. Add the chocolate to a small, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring between each one, until melted.
  11. Stir in the coconut oil, then stir in the stevia extract.
  12. Pour over the filling layer and tap the pan so that the chocolate spreads to all the corners of the pan. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours, or until chocolate is just set.
  13. Take the pan out of the fridge and slice into bars.


**Another great filling option is my Vanilla Protein Fondant Recipe made with whey protein instead of rice protein. It is easier to work with, but I no longer use whey protein because I am sensitive to dairy.

**If you don't have the custard powder, this is the filling I used the other time I made these bars: -3/4 cup Light Coconut Milk, canned -2 tbs Coconut Oil, melted -1+1/2 tsp Stevia Extract -126g (6 scoops) Vanilla Brown Rice Protein Powder -180g (1+1/2 cups) Powdered Erythritol

This recipe is: low fat, low sugar, high fiber, high protein, gluten free, vegan!

healthy dessert blog  healthy dessert blog

What a difference, eh?  (I had to fit another “eh” in this post SOMEWHERE!)  The Desserts with Benefits Nanaimo Bars are nearly half the calories of the typical bars you would find in Canada.  Not to mention, mine are lower fat and made up of healthy fats (no butter or cream in these babies), and far lower in carbs and sugar.  The typical Nanaimo Bar out there has about 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons of sugar per bar.  That is crazy.

So make the “healthified” Nanaimo Bars and you can grab a second serving.  These are the most delicious guilt-free treat ever… like, in the entire world!

Reduced Fat Nanaimo Bars
Chompity chomp chomp
Reduced Fat Nanaimo Bars
See the amazingness?  It’s like magic.  And you need it in your life ASAP  (Canadian or not)
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Labels: Applesauce, Bars-Blondies-and-Brownies, Brown-Rice-Protein, Chocolate, Coconut-Flakes, Coconut-Milk, Coconut-Oil, Eggless, Erythritol, Gluten-Free, High-Fiber, High-Protein, Low-Fat, Low-Sugar, Nutrition-Label, Vegan

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Comments (8)

  1. VERA LIMA: July 1, 2013

    This looks great. YUMMY!!
    Congrats in your post. I will try to make it this week.

  2. sophie: July 2, 2013

    girl, i prefer your first ones ;)

  3. sophie: July 2, 2013

    You write that you no longer use whey protein, because you are sensitive to dairy.

    I just wanted to tell you (and I know that everyone is different), but I too am sensitive to dairy, but only casein and lactose, I can have isolated whey.

    Maybe somethin you’ll experiment with one day.
    After all, whey is so good for the liver and detox…

  4. sophie: July 2, 2013

    sorry to bother you again…how many grams is the 1.5 cups of graham cracker crumbs?

  5. dessertswithbenefits: July 2, 2013

    Sophie- For some reason I have totally fine with yogurt but I CANNOT have milk… I’ve done a bit of research on why but I’ll definitely try to find out if whey is okay with me. Thank you so much for sharing that with me, I don’t feel so alone anymore! :)
    And 1.5 cups of graham cracker crumbs weighed 176g for me (I used my gluten free/vegan graham cracker crumbs for these bars)

  6. These look so good! I have yet to make Nanaimo Bars. I had never heard of them until just a few months ago. They look irresistible! What is bird’s custard powder?

  7. dessertswithbenefits: July 9, 2013

    Annie- Bird’s is just a brand, I have found it at many grocery stores, including Whole Foods. It is mostly just starch. Custard powder is commonly used in Nanaimo Bars, however I didn’t really taste it at all! If you don’t want to buy it I would just use more protein powder :)
    If you make these I hope you LOOOOVE them!

  8. January 13, 2014

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