I walked into my local Whole Foods Market today with the intentions of only purchasing the ingredients for tonight’s dinner (Pad Thai!). Immediately, my eyes were hit with the sights of fall. Whole Foods’s head of marketing is really a genius. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t like the fall, so obviously putting a huge variety of gourds, squashes, yams right in the entrance is going to evoke warm, happy emotions in all of the customers’ minds. It worked. In a heartbeat I had grabbed a can of pumpkin. I decided tonight would be the night I got to try out the recipe I’ve been staring at for days.
Vegan Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars
I found this recipe a few days ago and I couldn’t get it out of my mind since. Every Autumn, I get obsessed with pumpkin flavors. Unfortunately, the most delicious pumpkin flavors are usually found in baked goods. Also popular in baked goods are fat and sugar, so there’s typically a limit on how much pumpkin can be consumed per season.
Naturally, this recipe got me so excited. It’s vegan. It doesn’t have any sugar or butter in it (if you use agave instead of brown sugar). It’s made using flax seeds! How fricken’ cool is that?!
I love making things from scratch, so I refused to take a shortcut by buying pre-made pumpkin pie spice mix, and instead I mixed it myself.
- 3 tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp. ground ginger
- 2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
Mix all spices together and store in an airtight container. Makes about 5 tbsp.
Vegan Pumpkin Bars
(recipe from this website)
- 1/2 cup spelt flour (or white flour, oat flour, etc.)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 egg of choice (flax, chia,1 tsp energ. If necessary, you can omit completely.)
- 3 tbsp brown sugar (or agave nectar–this will make the bars more cake-like)
- 2 packets NuNaturals stevia (or 2 more tbsp sugar)
- 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (or cooked, pureed pumpkin)
- 2 tbsp nondairy milk
- 2 tbsp oil (coconut oil or vegetable)
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine dry ingredients, then add in wet. Spread into an oiled 8×8 pan and cook for 20 minutes. Let the pan cool for at least ten minutes before cutting and frosting the squares. Also, the flavors seem to intensify and these taste even sweeter the next day.
Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
(recipe can be found here)
- 1/4 cup silken-firm tofu
- 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp vegan cream cheese
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- stevia or other sweetener to taste
Blend the tofu until smooth, then add the other ingredients and blend again.
For the milk, I chose original-flavor almond milk, and picked coconut oil instead of vegetable. I used spelt flour, and chose to use flax for my egg. I never realized you could use flax as an egg substitute! It’s so good for you! All you have to do is mix 1 tbsp flax seed with 4 tbsp water and voilà! I also decided to use the agave nectar instead of brown sugar. It really did make the bars very cake-like.
Overall, I really enjoyed them. I didn’t expect them to be very sweet, and I expected that they’d have a weird healthy taste to them (I’m sure you know the taste I’m referring to!). They really surprised me, though! They were cake-like but moist, and had a very calm pumpkin spice flavor. The frosting was healthy-tasting, though, but went nicely with the bars. It’s a taste I could really get used to.
I made my mom eat one without telling her what they were. She didn’t like it from the start. When I explained to her what they were all about, she was impressed that they were so healthy for a dessert. Her final verdict was “They’re okay. Definitely not my favorite. But they’re okay.” She’s not a very experimental eater, so that was actually a pretty decent review. She even had a second one. Personally, I was really impressed by them and really rather enjoyed them. I’ll definitely be looking in to making more recipes like this! And want to know the best part of baking vegan? You can lick the bowl worry-free!