On my phone, I keep a list of potential recipes and blog post ideas I think of on the fly so I can come back to them when I’m needing a little inspiration. Given I’ve had Magic Bars written down for months, it’s about time I finally took a whack at developing my own recipe, don’t you think?
Considering chocolate, coconut and nuts are my favorite food groups, this dessert was truly made for me. And yes, this healthy version with natural, real ingredients still tastes like absolute magic. My boyfriend, Sam, and I can both attest to that!
When I first shared a sneak peek of this recipe on my Instagram, I had several people respond that they called these treats something different – Cowboy Bars, 7 Layer Bars, the list goes on. After some research, I found that Cowboy Cookie Bars are actually slightly different, so I’ll be sure to create a healthier version of those as well soon (now I’m intrigued).
Regardless of what you call them, these bars come together with simple, pantry-staple ingredients you might already have on hand. The crust is made from almond flour, unsweetened coconut, coconut oil, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Together these create a sort of “shortbread” with much more nutrition that the real deal.
Yet what really makes these bars magical, in my opinion, is the toppings. Chocolate chips, unsweetened coconut flakes and chopped pecans are the most perfect combo with a variety of textures and crunch.
To take everything to the next level, I created a healthy alternative to the “caramel” type sauce that’s typical in this dessert. Using coconut milk and a bit of maple syrup in place of sweetened condensed milk makes these bars vegan and free from any unwanted artificial sweeteners.
Sweetened condensed coconut milk is crazy easy to make at home and provides all the creamy richness you want without the dairy or sugar overload.
Given coconut is one of the main ingredients in these Magic Bats, it’s worth mentioning this essential ingredient’s incredible health benefits. Coconut even makes my list of 12 Beauty Foods for Skin & Hair Health thanks to its high levels of vitamins E and K and essential minerals. Plus, it’s high in good saturated fat and antioxidants to might boost heart health, promote fat loss and raise good (HDL) cholesterol.
Likewise, pecans are a powerhouse of nutrition and are included in my roundup of the top nuts we should all be eating. Perhaps surprisingly, pecans have the same cancer-fighting antioxidants as walnuts, as well as a high mineral content, including manganese and copper. They’ve also been associated with lowered “bad” LDL cholesterol and positive triglyceride levels.
As for the chocolate chips, you can certainly use whatever you have on hand, but I always reach for a bag of Lily’s Dark Chocolate Baking Chips. Not only are they vegan and stevia-sweetened, but they also just taste amazing! If you’re looking to really embrace a more nutritious treat, I encourage you to give them a try.
So while you might not have a list of recipes to create on your own phone like I do (or maybe you do!), I encourage you to make a note about these babies for sure.
As if the combination of chocolate, coconut, pecans, a shortbread crust and sticky sauce wasn’t out of this world enough, just give this healthy version a try. Now that’s magic .
- 1 ½ cups almond flour
- ¾ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- ½ cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 can (15 oz) coconut milk
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
- ½ cup pecans, roughly chopped
- ¾ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
Bring to a low simmer and cook down for about 45 minutes, until thickened.
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