I'm keeping this short and sweet today (just like these pumpkin pie bars) because these guys speak for themselves.
I mean, just look at them...
OK, I know, not the most photogenic. What these pumpkin pie bars lack in photo-worthiness they make up for in taste.
Did I mention they have chocolate chips in them, too? And they're easy to make gluten-free? And dairy-free?
Yes ma'am - you better believe it. That's how I roll.
Give me all of the chocolate, none of the gluten.
These are my go-to chocolate chips because they're gluten, dairy and soy free. And dark chocolate so lower in sugar.
The chocolate is optional of course, but who are we kidding... when is chocolate ever optional?
Now let's talk crust.
This part of the recipe is a super simple, easy combo of basic ingredients you can throw together as a base or topping for so many things.
While I was making these pumpkin pie bars I doubled everything to make twice as much so I could freeze some (OK, most) for Thanksgiving. About halfway through I snuck a taster of the crust and OMG, so good. I considered saving it instead and using it like granola on top of fruit, yogurt, you name it.
I use the same combo to make a crumble (like a cobbler) topping. It's so good and easy.
Better Ingredients, Better Bar
You know, I started cooking and baking this way (without all the gluten and dairy and refined sugar) for my health, but as it turns out it's been more than just a health upgrade. I have to say it's been a taste/pleasure/satisfaction upgrade too.
The thing with the "frees" is it forces you to up your quality. And better ingredients mean better food. Simple as that.
It does take some extra thought and effort navigating it all and re-learning how to cook and eat your favorite things. But that's what I'm here for. 😉
To Make it Easier...
Did you know I have an online cooking program with 4 complete, done-for-you weekly meal plans (including breakfast, lunch and dinner) that's almost entirely gluten and dairy free? It's called Dinner in 10 and it's a great place to start if you're working on getting some of these things out of your diet, for whatever reason, or if you're just wanting to eat healthier overall. Try it out with my FREE 3-Day Sample Meal Plan. Download it here.
Pumpkin Pie Bars
Makes: 16 bars
For the crust:
1 cup rolled oats (if gluten-free make sure package says "gluten-free" like these)
½ cup pecans, chopped
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract (I like this one)
½ tsp sea salt
1/2 cup whole-grain flour (can use any kind)
For the filling:
1 can pumpkin puree (the kind that's just pumpkin)
1/3 cup almond butter (the kind that's just almonds)
¼ cup milk (cow, almond, coconut, etc.)
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
½ tsp sea salt
2 tbsp flaxseed meal
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (I like these)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and press a piece of parchment paper (I like this kind) into a 9x9 baking dish (alternatively you can grease the inside of the dish with a little coconut oil).
Combine all of the crust ingredients in a large bowl and stir well until evenly combined. Place crust mixture into baking pan, pressing the crust down into a thin layer covering all sides and corners of the pan evenly.
Rinse out the bowl and start the filling. Combine all the filling ingredients in the bowl and mix until smooth. Pour filling over crust and spread evenly. Bake 30-40 minutes. You’ll know their done when you can stick a toothpick through the center and it comes out almost clean.
Allow to cool a bit; before cutting put the baking dish in the freezer for a few minutes to chill. If using parchment paper, use the sides to lift bars out of the pan and put them on a cutting board to cut. Otherwise cut in the pan.
To cut - slice evenly down the middle. Then again in the middle of each half. Turn dish 90° and do the same thing again.
Top each square with a whole pecans. Enjoy now or store in the fridge for later. You can serve cold or they're also delicious warmed back up in the oven.
Sooo... what did you think?
If you make these, come back and tell us how they turned out in the comments. We'd all love to hear! Thanks!
Want more better-for-you treats?
Get my FREE 10 High Energy Sweets + Treats Recipe eBook.Download it here.
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Megan Adams Brown, CHC, helps people take charge of their health and to start listening to themselves over the latest diet trend to optimize their own wellness, happiness and potential. Her family-friendly meal plans help parents take charge in the kitchen, too. This leads to more vegetables, less junk, and happier, healthier kids and parents. Megan shares kid-approved, allergy-friendly recipes on her blog. To learn more click here.