This past weekend I had big plans for my “recipes to experiment with” list. I hadn’t had a weekend at home with nothing to do in a while and I was itching to create some deliciousness. As I created each new recipe, I started to question if I truly have the “right” interests/hobbies in life. Each one was a fail, one after the other; under seasoned pumpkin curry soup, date caramel apples that didn’t set up right, and running out of ingredients I swore I had on hand. My ultimate moment of questioning came when I excitedly offered my hubby some cheese-less beer cheese soup (I know, I know…cheese is in the name…I get it) and asked for his input. I knew it needed some tweaking but thought I was on the path to an amazing discovery. Trying to be helpful and offer input, he suggested, “trying to use a different kind of cheese”.
I was ready to throw in the towel. I had waited all week for this day. I brought extra cash to the farmer’s market to get some seasonal goods, stocked up on staples at the grocery store, and woke up extra early to spend some extra time in the kitchen; to not have one good outcome from it all was not ok with me. I decided to give it one last effort and came out with these:
wholesome pumpkin bars with cream cheese-less cream cheese frosting.
I got the amazing frosting recipe from Love and Lemons. I clearly have a lot to learn from her. She was able to make the frosting taste like the real thing without actually including the main ingredient. Genius!
These bars have a lot to offer. Believe it or not they are packed with nutrition: oats, pumpkin puree, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, a touch of natural sweetener; what more could a girl want? Although the frosting makes them a-m-a-z-i-n-g, I have enjoyed them sans frosting as a quick, on-the-go snack. They freeze well, too, and only use one bowl to make! Oh, and depending on your dietary restrictions, they are vegan (so dairy and egg free by default) and gluten-free, if you use gluten free oats! Honestly, I don’t know why you guys are still reading. You should be preheating your oven and getting out your mixing bowl and measuring cups…
Makes 9 bars (8×8 inch pan)
2 cups rolled oats
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup maple syrup (add an additional 2 tablespoons if you like things sweeter)
1/2 cup cashew cream (1/2 cup cashews processed with 2 1/2 tablespoons almond milk; you might be able to use a nut butter but I did not test it)
1/4 cup uncrystallized candied ginger, cut into quarter inch pieces (I found mine at Trader Joe’s; other dried fruit would work as well)
Frosting (from Love and Lemons)
1/2 cup macadamia nuts (soaked for 2 hours, drained and rinsed)
1/2 cup cashews (soaked for 2 hours, drained and rinsed)
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8×8 pan with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine oats, flaxseed, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and pumpkin seeds.
3. Add pumpkin puree, canola oil, maple syrup, and cashew cream. Mix well to combine.
4. Fold in uncrystallized candied ginger.
5. Spread batter into prepared baking pan. Bake for 25 minutes until lightly browned.
6. To make the frosting, combine all frosting ingredients in a high speed blender. Start blender on low and gradually increase to high. Blend until smooth.
7 . Cool the bars on a cooling rack. Wait until bars are completely cooled to add frosting.