Well, here it is. My very FIRST raw, vegan dessert. Ever. I have been wanting to try this out for a while. So many tasty recipes floating around that are plant based and require no hot oven. It’s already heating up here in the Midwest, today’s high will be 85 degrees. And it’s May. So basically, I wanted to find a healthy(ish) dessert that won’t require me getting hot and sweaty in the kitchen. These Raw Vegan Coconut “Golden Milk” Bars helped me achieve just that.
Golden Milk Magic
One of my favorite drinks that I have started making this past year was Golden Milk. It’s a turmeric spiced milk beverage, usually served warm and consumed often times before bed. My Golden Milk usually includes a nice blend of turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and sweetened with vanilla and honey. I also like to add coconut oil to add some richness. Sip slowly, and I’m in heaven.
Turmeric has so many health benefits. Acclaimed for its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects, this root vegetable is a super-food. A close kin to ginger, turmeric is most often found dried and powdered. Curcumin, the medicinal compound found in turmeric, cannot be absorbed easily, but black pepper actually helps the absorption by 2000%! (1). Hence, why I like to make a paste of turmeric powder and black pepper with water.
It’s easy, just mix equal parts turmeric and water (1/4 cup to 1/4 cup) and add about 1 tsp crack black pepper per 1/4 cup of turmeric. Heat and stir on the stove over med-low heat for a few minutes. Add more water if necessary then transfer to container and store in the fridge up to 3 weeks. Pull out of the fridge to make your Golden Milk whenever you like.
So Raw and So Clean, Clean
The raw food diet has been a food trend for the past decade, but has been around for much longer. Made popular by celebrities advocating the lifestyle of only eating (mostly) plant based foods that haven’t been scorched by any heat. The theory is that raw ingredients maintain their nutrients, while cooked items burn out much of their vitamins, minerals, and natural enzymes. Cooked food also tends to have a more acidic pH, which is a breeding ground for disease (5). Raw food, therefore, is ideal because it is easy to digest, easy on the body, and the nutrients are still intact.
While there is still some debate about this style of foods, there are many proposed benefits:
- increased energy
- better sleep
- weight loss
- prevention or improved diabetes
- improved immunity
- enhanced memory and cognition
Still, it isn’t necessary to eat all raw all the time. But the more raw foods, the better. Even just a goal of one raw meal per day would be helpful. However, most raw diet advocates strongly recommend 75% of food consumed everyday be raw in order to experience the full benefits (5).
If you have read some of my other posts, you may have stumbled upon my recipe for vegan sour cream which also uses raw cashews as a base. Surprisingly, when you soak cashews in water and then blend them in a blender, it produces a creamy, thick, dairy-like texture with a rich flavor. Perfect for a cream bar, such as this Golden Milk Bar.
Another key component of our recipe is coconut. Coconut oil, coconut milk, shredded coconut. We use a lot of coconut in this recipe. But with good reason! Coconut is tasty, rich, and very healthy. Coconut products are great for the immune system, anti-bacterial, high in vitamins and nutrients, and have anti-oxidant properties (3).
Finally, our crust is made of dates, a natural source of sugar, and walnuts, and excellent source of omega 3. The dates might naturally be high in sugar, but due to their fiber content, they are a nutritious source of energy (4). Blending these two ingredients, in addition to some coconut oil and shredded coconut, give us a delicious, nutritious, raw vegan crust.
Listen, I can’t say this dessert was the easiest to make. But don’t let that deter you! Many of the most delicious meals I have ever made were a bit more time and labor intensive. This raw vegan dessert is no exception. True, there may be multiple steps to this dessert, most of the time is actual passive, waiting for something to soak or freeze.
The first steps are easy. For the cashews, to save on time, I soaked them in very hot water for about an hour, maybe a little more. Nothing fancy, just stick them in a mason jar and cover with a lid. The other alternative is to leave them to soak overnight in room temperature or even cold water. This is up to you. I will note, when I soaked the cashews overnight previously, it did end up producing a less grainy product.
Now, the use of a food processor and a blender help make this recipe easier. Processing the nuts, dates, coconut, and oil to make the crust took no time at all, maybe 1 minute. Measuring out a piece of parchment paper to place in the baking dish makes it easier to get the bars out of the pan later. And pressing in the crust with a spatula, you can ensure the crust gets even and firm. Popping the crust in the freezer helps to give us a nice chilled based to place the filling.
The filling is made in the blender, giving us the opportunity to make sure the cashews get blended well enough to be creamy, not grainy. Keep checking your texture. Keep scraping down the sides and blending until it is creamy, like cream cheese. Finally, the dessert needs to be frozen to be firm enough to handle and eat. When leaving it in the freezer for an extended period, pull out bars to warm up for 15 minutes before serving. Perfect dessert to make a day or 2 in advanced and then serve.