Since becoming vegan, one of my biggest food philosophies has been, “Make your food work for you.”

To me, this means consistently choosing and creating healthy meals, snacks, and desserts that go beyond just satisfying a craving. As an extremely active vegan who performs rigorous workouts 5-6 times per week, I don’t really believe in counting calories. I do, however, believe that every calorie should count.

I truly hope you love these bars. They’re decadent, satisfying, easy to make, and full of health benefits. They play on a classic craving – peanut butter and chocolate – but incorporate superfoods and adaptogens to take that craving to the next level. All of the ingredients serve a positive purpose, but the power players include:

  • Goji Berries
  • Maca Powder
  • Cinnamon 
  • Chia Seeds
  • Raw Nut Butters
  • Coconut Sugar

Goji berries have medicinal roots in ancient China and are well-known today for being an incredible source of antioxidants and phytonutrients. They have a high concentration of protein (about 1g per tablespoon) and they contain 11 out of the 18 essential amino acids. Additionally, they’re high in vitamin A, C, B2, beta-carotene, selenium, potassium, iron, and calcium, and they’ve been known to help elevate energy levels, boost athletic performance, and naturally treat diabetes.

Similarly, maca powder is also rich in antioxidants and has been known to enhance energy, stamina, mood, and memory. As an adaptogen, maca can also help your body’s stress response and balance your hormones. How cool is that?

Cinnamon, which many of us probably overlook and take for granted, is a powerful anti-inflammatory that can help relieve muscle soreness, allergies, and more. It’s also a natural anti-microbial, antibiotic, anti-fungal, and antiviral agent, which means it can help boost your immunity and fight infections and viruses.

Chia seeds, which are a great source of omega 3 fats, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and protein, add to these bars by working with the raw almond butter (high in protein, vitamin E, magnesium, riboflavin, manganese, phosphorus, and more) to complement the nutritional properties of peanut butter. Peanut butter has a pretty bad rep due to its high content of omega 6 fats. Omega 6 fats, which possess inflammatory qualities, have a negative effect when consumed in high amounts. However, when consumed with anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats, like those naturally found in raw almond butter and chia seeds, this effect is suppressed. *Breathes a sigh of relief.*

Lastly, coconut sugar deserves to be spotlighted because it contains inulin, which has the ability to stimulate the growth of intestinal bifidobacteria, commonly found in probiotics. Coupled with the high amount of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in these bars, the inulin in coconut sugar can help provide an overall boost to your immune system. Also, fun fact, coconut sugar may help slow glucose absorption, which can make it a better sugar choice for diabetics.

So whether you’re looking to satisfy a craving, incorporate a healthier dessert into your lineup, or you just love a good post-workout treat, I hope these bars become your new go-to and inspire you to make every part of your nutrition (indulgences especially) *work* for you.

Now let’s get to the recipe, shall we?

Prep Time: 30 minutes | Chill Time: 15 minutes | Total Time: 45 minutes | Makes: 9 bars

Ingredients:

Base Layer

  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup raw almond butter
  • 1/2 cup raw peanut butter
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. maca powder (I like Navitas Organics)
  • 2 1/4 cups quick oats (certified gluten-free, if necessary)
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds

Chocolate Layer

  • 3/4 cup vegan chocolate (I like the Enjoy Life! brand)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil

Toppings

  • 1/2 cup goji berries
  • Sea salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Add coconut sugar, maple syrup, melted coconut oil, almond butter, peanut butter, and vanilla to a large mixing bowl. Whisk until combined.
  2. Next add the ground cinnamon and maca powder. Whisk until combined.
  3. Using a spatula, stir in the oats and the chia seeds.
  4. Add the base mixture to a 9×9 inch baking pan. Press the mixture firmly and evenly into the pan using the spatula or your hands. Transfer the pan to the freezer to set.
  5. In a small saucepan over medium-low to low heat, add the vegan chocolate and 1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil. Using a spatula, continually stir the mixture until it has completely melted.
  6. Take the base mixture out of the freezer and pour the chocolate on top. Spread the chocolate evenly with a spatula until the base mixture is completely covered, then sprinkle the goji berries on top before transferring the pan back to the freezer.
  7. Let the bars set in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, then take out of the freezer and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Questions, comments, or thoughts on this recipe? Leave a comment below! 

 

3 comments on “VEGAN + GLUTEN-FREE PEANUT BUTTER GLOW BARS”

  1. These are SO quick to make — and so delish! Even my dairy-loving boyfriend was into them 🙂 Thank you!

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