It took me a long time to master the word Nanaimo. It was always Nanaimano up until my first visit to Nanaimo, BC in 1995. It is still a running joke in the family. I grew up loving the sweet, creamy dessert of Nanaimo Bars, whether it was the original, mint, or peanut butter variation, I loved them all.
In time, I grew out of this favoritism and started to try out more interesting desserts. However, when I came across this recipe the nostalgic craving set in.
I would like you all to please note, this recipe is not necessarily going to replace the original ultra sugary, buttery classic Nanaimo bar, but the variation in taste + added nutritional value will make this switch much more favourable.
I was pleasantly surprised with this alternative. I dig that this recipe is not as sweet as the original Nanaimo bar, yet it fills all my top requirements in a dessert. Coconut, Nuts, Chocolate. The addition of lentils packs this dessert with protein, iron, zinc and copper. I am telling you it is well worth the try!
The original recipe is found here (this site has some great recipes). I did make a few slight variations which are added in below.
Lentil Nanaimo Bars
For the base:
- 8 pitted Medjool dates
- ¾ cups walnut pieces
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- ¼ cup raw cacao powder or carob powder
- 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
For the filling:
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- ½ cup dry red lentils
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 2 heaping tbsp to ¼ cup melted coconut oil
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
For the topping:
- 1 cup of dark chocolate
- Place your lentils and one cup of water into a small pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer. Stir occasionally for about 12 minutes, until the lentils have broken down and the water is almost completely absorbed.
- While the lentils are cooking, prepare your base. Add the walnut pieces to a food processor and pulse 6-7 times until they are broken down to a rough meal. Add the dates, coconut, raw cacao/carob and coconut oil. Process until the mixture comes together, about one minute. You’ll be able to pinch the dough with your fingers and have it stay together.
- Line a 6 x 6-inch square pan with parchment paper (I used a 9×9 which worked just as well). Dump the base into the pan and press it down as evenly as you can.
- Wipe out the bowl of your food processor with a kitchen towel or paper towel (it shouldn’t be too dirty). Add your one cup of shredded coconut to the bowl and blend for a minute or two, until it breaks down even more finely. Pour your cooked lentils, maple syrup, vanilla, and coconut oil into the processor and blend for 2-3 minutes, until the filling is smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust for sweetness if necessary.
- Pour the filling over the base and spread evenly. Pop the pan into the fridge to harden.
- Gently melt the dark chocolate bar and pour over the base. Chill in the fridge until set.
Keep an open mind with these, if it’s been years since you have had the original Nanaimo, it’ll be hard for you to taste the difference. Hope you enjoy!