Nanaimo Bars (Gluten-free, dairy-free & refined sugar-free)

Desserts and other baked goods are an inevitable part of the holiday festivities. And as delicious as that can be, it can make it really tough to stick to your healthy eating goals. 

How does a healthy holiday treat sound? Something that delivers on taste and doesn't throw your goals out the window.

Over the next few weeks, I'll  be offering you simple, healthy and decadent recipes that are holiday friendly. I love bringing stuff like this to holiday parties and family gatherings - that way I can ensure there's something I feel good about indulging in. 

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Nanaimo Bars (Gluten-free, dairy-free & refined sugar-free)


1 cup Medjool dates (roughly 9), pitted
3 Tbsp raw cacao powder
1 1/2 cup shredded coconut flakes, divided
3.5 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/4 tsp sea salt

1 cup raw cashews (ideally soaked 2 hours)
3 Tbsp coconut fat*
1.5 Tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
splash of water, as needed

*I just scoop the fat from canned coconut milk (save the rest of the fat and liquid for another dish, perhaps these coconut curried noodles?!)

scant 1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life brand)
2 tsp coconut oil



  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper.
  3. Combine all crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture feels sticky to the touch
  4. Press crust mixture into the bottom of the the pan and spread evenly. 
  5. Bake for 15 minutes and let the crust cool completely before you add the filling. I usually place mine on a cooling rack.


  1. If soaking your cashews first, drain and rinse. 
  2. Combine all ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth (you don't want any cashew chunks in the filling). But be careful not to over process, or the filling will be too sticky to work with.


  1. In a double boiler, melt down the chocolate chips with 2 tsp of coconut oil (this will add some sheen to your chocolate). 
  2. Stir chocolate frequently until it's completely meltedCool slightly.
  3. Spread evenly over filling and gently spread to cover evenly.
  4. Chill 2 hours before slicing into bars.

Although you can certainly store these in the refrigerator, I prefer to freeze mine (in a sealed container) and take them out just prior to serving - I think the texture is better.

Enjoy! Because the holidays can still be healthfully decadent 😜

Let's talk! What are your favourite holiday goodies to bake up? 

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