Vegan Spiced Pumpkin Bars + Is My Diet Vegan? (Clean)

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As Thanksgiving grows closer and the world turns to gold, all of us are probably stocking up on pumpkin purée in preparation for all the delicious fall recipes that all the food blogs are throwing at us.

I fall (no pun intended) under both categories. Yes, I’m stocking up on pumpkin purée, and I’m also throwing a pumpkin recipe at you.

This recipe isn’t so much of a Thanksgiving dinner dessert or anything, but they’re still a great way to put all that pumpkin and pumpkin spice to good use.

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I call them bars because, well, because they’re shaped like bars. In terms of texture and taste, they actually fit better under the ‘scones’ category. Mind you, they’re don’t taste exactly like scones. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of scones – they’re dry and I couldn’t eat one without drowning down a glass of water with it. On the other hand, these pumpkin bar-scone hybrid are wonderfully moist and fluffy thanks to the pumpkin purée.

If you’re super excited about the recipe, feel free to just scroll down now to get to the recipe while I discuss a recent event regarding the seemingly perpetual, controversial topic – veganism.

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So yesterday, I conducted a workshop at my school’s Global Issue Conference. It’s a day combined with International Day, in which we all wear something of our countries, attend three workshops, and have a seriously amazing buffet of international foods (it’s everyone’s favorite part of the day. If you were there, you’d know why). Each year, we have a theme to the conference, and this year was no different -“Equality”. Naturally, the first thing my mind went to was animal equality, and so, I presented a workshop about it.

In the workshop, I outlined the hypocrisy of humankind, and how cruel and unnecessary it is for us to eat meat. If you were to see someone on the street taking a baseball bat to a dog’s head, what would you do? You’d try to stop them, of course, as you’d recognize this as a violation of the dog’s right. As earthlings, we all have two things in common: 1. We all desire to live, 2. We all want to be free of pain. The first, creates an equality between us. We all desire the same thing. However, the second desire of earthlings is broken every time we kill a harmless farm animal, thus resulting in an inequality between all animals – including us. Milk isn’t the best source of calcium, and it’s weakening our bones. 100g of t-bone steak may have a whopping 24g of protein, but that comes along with 16g of fat and 20% of your RDA for cholesterol as well.

I could go on and on and on. In fact, I did go on about this for an hour yesterday – three times, at my workshop. My audience in the first and third workshop were rather passive, but my second workshop – oh, man, there were some damn heated debates going on, which made it my favorite workshop. Being able to answer questions in support of what I believe in is a pretty incredible feeling. However, at both the first and second workshop, there was the question: “Are you a vegan?”

In the second workshop, someone who knew my Instagram account shouted out an answer for me. It was an inaccurate answer. He said, “Yeah! She is!”, and I had to gently tell him that no, I wasn’t.

For the rest of the day, guilt gnawed at me. I called out on the hypocrisy of those who want animals to have equal rights, and still eat meat, yet here I was, doing exactly that. But then I thought about my food labels. Not vegan, but flexitarian, or plant-based.

I claim to eat “plant-based”, and yes, the word has “plant” in it, but it also has “based”, indicating that my diet doesn’t consist 100% of plants. If someone were to tell you to watch a movie that was based off of a book, then you’ll understand that although they may have similar characters, setting, and storyline, this doesn’t mean that they are exactly the same. Therefore, when I say that my diet is plant-based, this implies that the majority of the food I eat are sourced by plants, but not all.

Hearing that, you may claim that I don’t care about the animals as I say that I do, but that’s not necessarily true. There are three main reasons why I don’t go full-on “vegan”, and not one of those reasons has to do with a lack of compassion for the animals.

  1. Family traditions/culture/accessibility. I live in China, my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents (I assume) are Chinese. If I still lived in the Netherlands, then this may not be as much of an issue, but here in China, vegetarianism isn’t too common, and veganism? Practically unheard of. Then again, this makes sense, as, among multiple other reasons, the Chinese diet doesn’t consist of a lot of meat in the first place. Nonetheless, this makes it difficult for me to access some ingredients that may be common elsewhere. For instance – I only know of one single shop in this entire city that sells coconut oil. Coconut oil is a substitution for butter in tons of vegan recipes. Naturally, there’s nowhere for me to get vegan butter, either, or vegan meat. In addition, my family is incredibly disapproving of vegetarianism. They do believe that we need to eat a variety of foods in order to intake all nutrients, and that includes meat. Fortunately, this, being my main hurdle, allows me to eat vegan foods for breakfast (which I always make for myself), and whenever I have options to choose vegan foods during non-Chinese dinners/lunches.
  2. Experiences. Food is such an important part to our cultures and lives, and I strictly do not believe that diet should interfere with the experiences that life offers us. Now, I don’t mean that as killing a cow is a once-in-a-lifetime experience! No. Let me give you an example, yesterday, during the Global Issues Conference/International Day, there was some damn good food. I avoided meat where I could, but in all the excitement, there was no way that I was going to point at a cookie and ask for its ingredients, or to stop myself from grabbing a bitterballen from the Dutch food table just because it does contain meat. I put all of my food beliefs aside because I didn’t want it to ruin one of my favorite school events.
  3. Baking. This one pretty much ties back into my first point. Ingredients for many vegan foods aren’t nearly as readily accessible here in Beijing as they are in many other vegan-friendly cities. Thus, I have to use what I’m given, because (tying back into my second point), I don’t want to limit my baking. As you can tell from this blog, baking is one of the single most important parts of my life. It’s where I find peace and comfort, and it’s something that I’m incredibly passionate about and love doing, and sometimes, I have to make do with what I have.

I want to reiterate that I do choose vegan when I can, but if you can relate to any one, or perhaps even all, of the points that I made, understand that you don’t have to feel guilty for believing in something that perhaps you aren’t able to fully commit to. Take things one step at a time. I’ve almost completely cut milk and cheese out of my diet, and consume the other dairy and meat at minimal amounts.

To conclude, no, I’m not a vegan, yes, I love animals, yes, I avoid animal products, and yes, I encourage you to do the same. Oh, and yes, these spiced pumpkin bars are vegan and delicious and you should go make some right now.

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Vegan Spiced Pumpkin Bars

Makes 8 bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 5 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
  • 3 tablespoons soy or almond milk
  • 4 tablespoons applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 175 degrees Celsius or 350 Fahrenheit
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, salt, flaxseed, and coconut sugar until combined
  3. Add in the pumpkin purée, milk, applesauce, and vanilla extract and fold together until just combined
  4. Transfer the mixture into a greased 8-inch square baking tin and bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
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Cookie Dough Banana Blondies (Clean)

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HI GUYS!

It’s been like half a month since I last posted a recipe, oops? The IB hit me in the face, not giving me time to post anything, and then even when the work lessened, I’d fallen out of the cycle of posting.

Anyways, moving on…COOKIE DOUGH BLONDIES!

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These aren’t exactly like regular blondes. They aren’t dense and loaded with sugar and butter, but they’re lighter, both in texture and ingredients.

 

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And of course, they’re studded with chocolate chips, which just make them a million times better.

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Cookie Dough Banana Blondies

Makes 16 squares

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup unrefined coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon powdered stevia
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 small ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, coconut sugar, powdered stevia, baking powder, and salt
  3. In another smaller bowl, whisk together the mashed banana, coconut oil, and eggs
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold together until just combined
  5. Fold in chocolate chips
  6. Transfer batter into a greased 8 or 9 inch square baking tin and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean
  7. Allow to cool before cutting into squares

Chocolate-Covered Mint Avocado Banana Ice Cream Squares (Clean)

~ These healthy, gluten-free, vegan chocolate-covered mint ice cream squares are super easy to make and perfect for cooling down or just to have as a low-calorie treat. ~

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I’m sharing another recipe from my free ebook! They’re chocolate-covered mint avocado banana ice cream squares, and they are so good (and healthy)! Absolutely perfect for the summer heat.

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I don’t know about you, but everywhere I’ve been this summer has been super hot. I’ve already shared a recipe for this quick and easy no-churn biscoff cookie butter ice cream, but that’s different from this recipe. That’s an ice cream recipe, and it’s not vegan or healthy or snack-shaped anything. This one? This one is.

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It’s made up of a regular date base with dates and almonds and a bit of cacao powder, but the filling is the really amazing part. You guys all probably know about nice cream now – frozen bananas puréed into a soft-serve ice cream. In this recipe, I added a bit of coconut oil so that when it freezes, it resembles regular ice cream more than soft-serve.

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Oh, and you know how I love watching chocolate set over nice cream? Yeah, this is 10x better. With the layer of chocolate at the perfect thickness, the chocolate satisfyingly breaks when you bite into it, and you’ll basically think that you’re biting into mint chocolate chip ice cream bar – but without any of the guilt.

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Not only does are these guilt-free, but they’re nutritious, especially thanks to the super healthy fruit – avocado! Bananas are great, too, but avocados, man. I love them. You can’t taste them in this recipe, which is good for people who don’t like the taste of avocado (???). Either way, at first glance, avocados appear to be a fruit disguised as a vegetable that should be avoided at all cost. It is true that these green fruits are high in calories, but this is only because they are made up of fats – healthy fats. They’re also prized for their high nutrition value and their wonderful textures. Avocados have more potassium than bananas, and are loaded with fiber. In fact, a serving of 100g contains 14% of the recommended daily allowance, as well as 26% of the recommended daily allowance for Vitamin K. Also, avocados stand apart from other fruits because unlike most fruits, avocados are incredibly low in sugar, with only approximately 0.4g of sugar per whole avocado.

Interesting? I have one of these little about-the-ingredient paragraphs with every single one of my recipes in my free ebook, so go download it!

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Chocolate-Covered Mint Avocado Banana Ice Cream Squares

(From Health-ified Chocolate)

Makes 15 squares

Ingredients

Chocolate Almond Base

  • 1 cup medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 0-2 tsp water, as needed

Ice Cream Filling

  • 1 avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 medium, ripe bananas
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5-10 drops peppermint extract, depending on how strong you want the mint flavor to be
  • Pinch of salt

Chocolate Glaze

  • 3 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

Method

  1. For the chocolate almond base, add all the ingredients into a food processor and process until the mixture sticks together, adding water as needed
  2. Press mixture into a 8x8inch or 20x20cm baking pan lined with parchment paper
  3. For the ice cream filling, add all ingredients into a food processor and process until the mixture and blend until smooth
  4. Spread an even layer of the ice cream filling over the base and freeze while making the chocolate glaze
  5.  Mix all the ingredients for the chocolate glaze together until smooth
  6. Pour the chocolate glaze over the ice cream layer
  7. Freeze the squares for at least 5 hours, until firm
  8. After freezing, allow the squares to thaw at room temperature for about 20 minutes, before cutting into squares using a hot knife
  9. Serve. Keep leftovers stored in the freezer

 

Skinny Fudgy-Cakey Beetroot Brownie Bites (Cheat)

Summer vacation is my favorite time of year. If you’re not on vacation right now, I am so sorry.

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What have I been doing this summer? Partying – in my kitchen. I did watch Jurassic World the other day, though. Chris Pratt is lyfe ❤

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About the title – because this recipe does have butter and flour and whatnot, I couldn’t classify it as a ‘clean’ recipe, but it is a lightened-up version and each brownie is small, making it a perfect small snack that wouldn’t fatten anyone up – hence the ‘skinny’ part. Each brownie bite is less than 100 calories, too! Nutrition info is at the end of this post.

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Let’s talk brownies. I’d say that most people like fudgy brownies as opposed to cakey brownies. When someone asks me, I say fudgy, but personally, I don’t think that brownies fall under two simple categories.

I used to associate “cakey brownies” with the texture of chocolate cake, which I assume a lot of people do, and I’d associate “fudgy brownies” with just the average brownie. As much as I love sweets, some brownie recipes out there make me cringe at how insanely fudgy they are, with a single bite having enough calories to last the day.

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So let me try to describe these brownies. They’re soft, fluffy, moist, flavorful, and bite-sized. They are neither “fudgy” nor “cakey”, but a delicious hybrid of both.

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*This recipe is vegan-ize-able. Replace the butter with Earth Balance and the egg with a chia/flax egg

**To make the beetroot purée, just stick the beetroots (unpeeled) in a big pot of boiling water until they’re soft, peel them, and purée them in a food processor. If you have leftovers, you can use it to naturally dye all your food pretty and pink, or use it to make my many recipes that use beetroot purée

Fudgy-Cakey Beetroot Brownie Bites

Adapted from Boards and Knives

Makes 36 bite-sized brownies

Ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons (120g) unsalted butter*
  • 150g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 cup beetroot purée**
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg*
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Powdered sugar (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a double boiler, microwave (at intervals), or directly in a saucepan, melt the butter
  3. Gently stir the chocolate pieces into the bowl/saucepan with the butter until melted
  4. Remove from heat if using double boiler or saucepan, and stir in the beetroot purée, vanilla extract, sugar, and salt. When the mixture has mostly cooled, stir in the egg as well
  5. Fold in the flour and baking powder until combined. Do not over-mix
  6. Transfer the mixture into a greased or lined 8×8 (inch) cake tin and spread the batter so that it fills the cake tin properly
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly before cutting into bite-sized pieces and sifting on powdered sugar if desired
Nutrition Facts
Servings 36.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 87
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4 g 7 %
Saturated Fat 3 g 14 %
Monounsaturated Fat 1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 12 mg 4 %
Sodium 145 mg 6 %
Potassium 19 mg 1 %
Total Carbohydrate 11 g 4 %
Dietary Fiber 0 g 2 %
Sugars 7 g
Protein 1 g 2 %
Vitamin A 2 %
Vitamin C 0 %
Calcium 1 %
Iron 1 %

Sugar-free Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies (Clean)

Holy moly, these are amazing. The best part? They’re 100% sweetened with dates. I’ve always doubted date-sweetened recipes. I’ve never been the biggest fan of dates. While everyone else was raving on about dates being the most delicious snack, I sat back and enjoyed my bananas and almonds. Anyways, if you take a closer look at the ingredients, you’ll notice that this recipe is gluten-free and vegan as well. Win!

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(C’mon, you can’t go wrong with this cookie dough look-alike!)

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By the way, this recipe is absolutely PERFECT if you want to try making my two-ingredient vegan meringues. Both recipes require a can of chickpeas. However, to make this recipe, you’ll need the chickpeas. For the meringues, you’ll need the water from the can (don’t believe me? Go see for yourself!). So yeah, no waste. Win! (Again!)

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If you’re wondering what I did with the meringue mixture here, I simply didn’t bake the meringue batter. In my meringue recipe, I stated to bake the meringue. However, in this case, if you want to eat the meringue and blondies together, then just don’t bake the mixture (there’s no egg whites, so it’s safe!) and pipe the mixture onto the blondies. It’s kinda like a marshmallow fluff and it’s so yummy!

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I swear, this recipe couldn’t get much more perfect. They don’t look like they’re insanely delicious, but they are. My mom didn’t eat any on the day that I made them. The next day, she had one, and she couldn’t stop eating them (same with me). They’re incredibly addicting and super snack-able.

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Caramel Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies

Adapted from Nadia’s Healthy Kitchen

Makes 15 blondies

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (400g) chickpeas, drained (SAVE THE WATER IN THE CAN!)
  • 1 cup (165g) medjool dates (or other dates, soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes and drained)
  • 1/4 (4 tbsp) cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 (55g) cup oat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup (55g) chocolate chips
  • Vegan meringue (you can pipe this onto the blondies instead of baking them, so it acts as marshmallow fluff as opposed to baked meringues)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a food processor, process the chickpeas, dates, coconut oil, and vanilla extract
  3. Add in the oat flour, baking powder, and salt, and pulse to combine until the dough resembles a cookie dough
  4. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and stir in the chocolate chips
  5. Press the mixture into a lined or greased baking pan (approx. 8 inches)
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes
  7. Allow to cool, and pipe on your marshmallow fluff!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies (Clean)

So I realized that I’ve never made a clean-eating brownie. I’ve made the raw kind that’s mostly made up of dates, but to be honest, those aren’t my favorites. I needed a healthy brownie recipe. A good one. I found one.

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Doesn’t it look gorgeous too? My peanut butter swirls came out a little weird, but oh my god they tasted soo good!

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I’ve already mentioned that my family doesn’t love all the clean treats I whip up. They loved this so much! Even my brother!

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My mom couldn’t believe that these were perfectly healthy. Seriously. She ate so many of them. Not as many as I did, but still.

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She asked me if she could give some to her friends. Of course I agreed. Needless to say, her friends loved them too.

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Are you dying for the recipe now? You should be. If I were you, I would be.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

(Adapted from Lin)

Makes one square 8-inch brownie

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups oats
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbs coconut sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 super ripe bananas
  • 4 medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup crunchy/smooth natural peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp coconut cream or soy yoghurt (I used coconut cream)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  2. In a food processor, process the oats, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and coconut sugar until it has become a flour
  3. Add the banana, dates, peanut butter, coconut cream, and vanilla and pulse until you get a thick batter
  4. Fold in chocolate chunks
  5. Line an 8 inch brownie pan with parchment paper, or grease lightly
  6. Pour the brownie batter into the pan and even out
  7. Gently melt the peanut butter and coconut oil over low heat until melted and combined
  8. Spoon blobs of the peanut butter mixture over the brownie batter and use a knife to swirl it around
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean or with moist crumbs, but not raw batter
  10. Let cool completely
  11. Cut into 16 squares and serve