Recipe Redux: Festive Garland Bars

Do you have any recipes that you return to again and again? Maybe you make it every year for a certain holiday, or just on a laidback weekend for a quick meal or snack. I think most of us have at least one tried-and-true recipe we make often, whether it’s one we came up on our own or one from a blog or cookbook.

For me, this would be my festive garland bars. I first saw the recipe on the Whole Foods site about a year ago, and I knew right away that I wanted to veganize them. I did, and I made quite a few changes to the original to make it my own and a much healthier option. I know some people like their treats to be totally indulgent, and that’s completely fine, but I’ve got a huge sweet tooth so I always healthify my treats to make them a better option for a more regular dessert.

I first made the bars over Thanksgiving break last year and loved them. It was my first foray into reintroducing chocolate back into my life after starting recovery from my ED, and it was a big step forward for me. Now if you read my blog like, ever, you’d know that I love dark chocolate and almost never go a day without it in some form. So it was definitely time to return to these bars.

But since last year, I’ve made even more changes to my diet. I usually stick with gluten free grains because they make me feel better and I love the different tastes and textures they provide to baked goods. So I replaced the oat flour I originally used (oat flour can be gluten free, you just have to check to make sure it is certified g-free) with Garden of Life RAW chai protein powder and buckwheat flour, which give it a bit more protein power. I also cut back on the maple syrup and chocolate chips, and cut out the dried cranberries because I didn’t have them on hand. I also scaled down the recipe to make fewer bars because Thanksgiving break is just around the corner and I didn’t want to pack too much extra food when I go home. It turned out to be a delicious experiment–just as yummy as I remember them, and a little bit healthier to boot!

This year’s version of my fave dessert recipe.

Festive Garland Bars Take Two (vegan, gluten-free)

3 tbsp buckwheat flour (can sub other gluten free flours)

1 scoop Garden of Life RAW vanilla chai protein powder (can use other protein powders, but this gives it a festive taste)

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tbsp cacao nibs (can use more, this was all I had!)

1 tbsp dark chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life mini chips)

2 tbsp grade B maple syrup

1/3 cup pumpkin puree

handful Whole Foods kettle corn

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, protein powder, baking powder and salt. Stir in cacao nibs until combined. In another bowl, stir together maple syrup and pumpkin until smooth. Add dry ingredients to wet and add in a splash of almond milk if needed. Pour batter into a 7X5 baking dish and bake for 20 minutes, or until springy to touch. In a microwave safe bowl, heat chocolate chips until melted. Pour chocolate over cooled bars and press kettle corn into chocolate. Let the melted chocolate set and then cut into 6 bars.

Have you ever reinvented an old favorite recipe? How do you feel about healthifying desserts?

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6 thoughts on “Recipe Redux: Festive Garland Bars

  1. I definitely have tried-and-true recipes that I keep coming back to, but sometimes I wish I didn’t because it can really prevent me from trying new things. As for healthifying desserts, I think they have their time and place, and they used to be the only kind I would eat, but lately I’ve preferred treating myself to real dessert, especially because I find that I don’t have to eat so much of it to feel satisfied.

    • You are so right about real vs. healthified desserts. I still tend to gravitate towards the healthified ones because I have a big sweet tooth and like to have a “dessert” every night without it being over the top indulgent, but whenever I have a real dessert, I always enjoy it more!

  2. That sounds really good. I’ve never veganized anything but I need to. I have a couple of cookie recipes I feel need to be veganized. They’re already delicious, and in my experience vegan food just tastes the best.

    • Vegan cookies are so good! I’ve made some a couple times and also made them gluten free and they weren’t quite the same as other cookies but still amazing. I still need to figure out how to make a vegan cookie as great as the ones they sell at Whole Foods!

  3. Those look so decadent! I absolutely love really intense dark chocolaty things šŸ™‚ I’ve never tried baking with cocao nibs before, so I’m a bit nervous, but I have a feeling they would be delicious in certain recipes…

    • Cacao nibs are a great sub for chocolate chips if you want a more intense chocolate taste! I would recommend buying a sweetened kind (I use Navitas Naturals cacao sweet nibs) to try out your first time baking with them because they’re a little more like semi-sweet dark chocolate.

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