no-bake vegan bars

Words and recipe by Mary Lynch

Eating a varied diet is one of the most important pieces of nutritional advice I can give to anybody. However, those with special diets have an added complication, and variety is often overlooked. Being restricted in what you can eat can leave you in an unimaginative and unhealthy rut. If you suffer from coeliac disease or avoid a food for ethical reasons, it’s easy to build up a list of safe foods and never try anything new. Unfamiliar foods can fill people on special diets with fear – all those ingredients on the back of pack that you can’t pronounce tend to put you off. So what’s the solution? Make them yourself!

As someone who isn’t coeliac or vegan, the one thing I really struggle with is healthy snacking. There are so many snacks out there that are full of empty calories (food that give us lots of energy but little or no vitamins and minerals), and you can easily consume more calories, fat and sugar by eating a snack than a main meal. So, I decided to combine the two – healthy snacks suitable for those with special diets.

Here is my favourite super-healthy, raw, no-bake, gluten-free snack bar recipe that you can take in lots of different directions – try mixing it up with whatever dried fruit, nuts or seeds you have at hand. You can chuck them together in a big batch and they’ll last you the whole week. They are super easy, super delicious, and they contain a good combination of carbohydrates and protein that will keep you full until your next meal – so go nuts!  (Sorry.)

no-bake vegan bars

No-bake vegan sticky chocolate fudge bars

I got the idea of this from my friend who makes the most incredible chocolate brownies, and have used a combination of cocoa powder and raw cacao. Cacao is raw chocolate, and is believed to contain more nutrients than cocoa powder because it hasn’t been heated to such high temperatures. Cacao is a great source of magnesium, which helps our muscles to function properly, reduces tiredness and fatigue, and helps us build muscle. Who said chocolate couldn’t be healthy?

Makes 12 bars

Base layer

  • 170g dates
  • 75g cashew nuts
  • 65g cup pecans
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp cocoa nibs

Chocolate topping

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 50g dates
  • 40g pecans or cashew nuts

Method

Soak chia seeds in a bowl with 8 tbsp of water and leave aside. Place all the base layer ingredients in a food processor and blend until combined and sticking together. Press the mixture into the bottom of an inch-deep tray.

Next, place all the topping ingredients in the processor with the chia seeds and most of the water then blend until smooth. Stop to taste the mix, and if you like it a bit sweeter add a little more maple syrup.

Scoop the topping out and smear on top of the base layer, then put the tray in the freezer for at least an hour. Once it’s set it’s ready to cut into portions. You can store it in the fridge and it will last a week, or in freezer if you’ve done a big batch.

Nutrition information: Per serving; 209kcal, 12.7g fat(3.5g saturated), 4.2g protein, 17.6g carbs, 15.6g sugar

Mary Lynch

About the author

Mary Lynch is a registered nutritionist, and the senior nutritionist at Jamie Oliver Ltd. She spends her days advising Jamie and the food team, looking after everything nutrition-related for the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, carrying out nutrition training for staff, and creating resources for the company. Mary grew up in the middle East in Qatar and so her favourite cuisine is Arabic food, but she loves to experiment and create healthier versions of indulgent treats and dishes. She is a massive foodie and gym bunny, and is passionate about creating change.

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no-bake vegan bars

No-bake vegan chocolate fudge bars

By Mary Lynch
  • петя спасова

    healthy…

  • Erin McCloskey

    the cacao you promote in the description does not actually appear in the recipe… is it meant to be substituted or mixed half and half with the cocoa power? thx for the clarification.

    • tanyawilson

      Cacao nibs are in the recipe.

      • Erin McCloskey

        cocoa (not cacao) nibs are in the recipe. the description implies mixing cacao with cocoa powder. just wanting confirmation.

        • Martin

          I think whatever your preference between the two is the answer

  • Rana

    Looks so, so delicious. Can’t wait to try it!

  • Rana

    FYI, “cocoa” and “cacao” are two words for the same thing. Some companies in the raw foods industry have co-opted the more authentic and exotic sounding word “cacao” to distinguish their raw cocoa products.

  • Alesa

    What could be used to make this nut free? GF oats?

  • Dra House

    Please, how can I replace “maple syrup”? Thanks!! :)

    • Deanne

      Golden Syrup or Malasis are good substitutes for Maple Syrup.

    • Pod72

      I’d use agave, coconut nectar or honey.

  • Kathy Maccio Jones

    Do you think this would work with peanuts instead of the tree nuts? My kids have tree nut allergies.

  • Hayley Louise Smith

    Is there any substitution for the nibs? I’d love to make these and have all of the other ingredients (and I have a feeling that it won’t be easy and/or cheap) to get them here in the Netherlands.

    • Carole Kettmann

      My comment was meant as a reply to you;)

      • Hayley Louise Smith

        Thank you Carole!

    • Tonoa

      you can buy them at AH

  • Carole Kettmann

    I just finished a batch without the nibs…I find there’s enough chocolate in the layering…works fine.

  • Meghla Clara

    What is the substitute of cocoa nibs, pecans and chia seeds?

  • Anja

    I am so happy Jamie that jou make a raw food receptie.
    What more can jou make!

  • Holly

    So great that you’re doing vegan recipes! Vegan is the way forward, eating meat and dairy is incredibly unhealthy, bad for the environment and animal welfare!

  • http://happyhealthyholyhome.com/ Chantelle Marie Swayne

    Oh my, these look incredible! These are definitely on the to-make list! I have all the ingredients already!
    Also, thank you for offering more healthy choices! xx

  • Rachel

    For those with nut allergies, would soy nuts or pumpkin/sunflower seeds work (for base layer, topping, or both)?

  • Yussuf Adam

    i am diabetic. how i cut the sugar….

  • Beth Vaupel

    Joining the nut free crowd here…any ideas? Maybe sunflower seeds?

    • Matea

      You could use seeds, tho imo the taste is a bit stronger and ‘healthier’ (cashews have such a neutral taste). Someone mentioned GF oats for base, I think that would be good. Soy nuts or soy nut butter tastes closest to peanuts and can be nice. Can you eat coconut? Shredded for base, and coconut butter (not oil) for top work for me!

  • benji borrowman

    I wonder if I could use prunes or apricots instead of dates. I cant have dates.

  • Matea

    Jamie did vegan! My dream came true :) Love it.

  • Marta Bieńkiewicz

    I have not found cocoa nibs, but even without it absolutely delicious.. I am on a primal diet and this is a real treat!

  • Jeannine Byers

    How many portions

    • jamieoliverdotcom

      This recipe makes 12 bars. Enjoy!