I’ve been thinking for awhile about creating a healthy(ish) holiday dessert option that would still evoke some of the spirit of the holiday season. Ideally, I wanted to create something using traditional Christmas colors, but without resorting to any artificial coloring or non-edibles to get the job done. I have also been thinking of creating an all-raw variation of my Avocado-Lime Tart. As the filling of that tart was raw to begin with, I figured it would make sense to make an entirely raw version for those who prefer to eat that way.
And so, these all-raw Avocado-Citrus bars were born. They marry the idea of a Christmas-themed treat with an all-raw tart. The light, minty green coloring of the filling combined with the strawberries on top makes a lovely pairing. And even though I used the same filling as in my avocado-lime tart, I changed the name to Avocado-“citrus” bars — because it’s my blog, and I can do stuff like that.
I tested these bars on Gennaro and a friend of his who was over the night I made them — both of whom gave their approval and urged me to post these. Sometimes I can be such a perfectionist when it comes to my recipes that I’m not sure when to stop tweaking things. So it’s sometimes nice to be told something is really good as-is, so I don’t have to think about it too much.
While these bars are raw and made from whole foods ingredients, I will warn that they are still not necessarily low in fat (and by “not necessarily”, I mean they’re not). But, I’m sure we all have our rule bends when it comes to holiday eating. Mine are that I still try and make sure I’m getting a meal in with fresh fruits and veggies (even if it’s just breakfast) and that I keep balance throughout the rest of the day. If I eat a little more than I should — I have “big eyes” syndrome and sometimes try to force my stomach to accommodate my eyes — or eat a little less healthy than I would like, I know that it’s only for a day or two. No need to beat myself up! And when I can, I try to contribute my own holiday options that I can feel good about.
Personally, while I would not eat these bars every day, I would still prefer them to something made with heavily processed, oil-based ingredients such as shortening or fake butters. Plus, these bars are sweetened with just dates and stevia! So there should be no blood sugar spike and crash that comes with eating sugary foods.
These bars are not only vegan and gluten-free (of course), but also raw and grain-free. Enjoy!
Raw Avocado-Citrus Bars with Strawberries:
Makes: 9-12 bars, depending on size
Note: It’s helpful to have parchment paper on hand for making this, as it makes it very easy to lift these from the baking dish and cut to serve.
1 1/2 cups raw walnuts
1 1/2 cups pitted dates
1/2 cup dried, shredded coconut (unsweetened)
Filling Ingredients (same as filling from my avocado-lime tart):
2 ripe hass avocados (room temperature)
1 ½ cups raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours, drained and rinsed
½ cup fresh lime juice
zest of one lime
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon NuNaturals liquid stevia
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Fresh strawberries (a little less than one carton) washed and thinly sliced
To make crust: Process crust ingredients in a food processor until small clumps form. Press crust ingredients into a parchment-lined 8×8′ or similar-sized baking dish. I use the back of a large measuring cup to help press everything in evenly.
To Make Filling: Puree all ingredients in a Vitamix or other high-powered blender until completely smooth. Pour over prepared crust.
To Finish: Arrange sliced strawberries over top, overlapping a little bit. Doesn’t have to be perfect, but should cover top fairly well.
To Set: Freeze bars for about 2 hours prior to serving. Let thaw slightly if they are too hard to slice (about 5-10 minutes). Lift bars from baking dish by picking up parchment paper from the sides prior to slicing. I used a very large knife to cut these, pulling the knife down from the top to make all the squares at once. This helps to ensure the strawberries stay in place. If you need to freeze for longer, I would suggest making sure you thaw in the refrigerator for a few hours prior to serving. I would not recommend freezing these for long periods of time. Right out of the freezer, these can be eaten with hands. If they are thawed for longer and start to soften, I suggest using a fork and plate. They’re still good!