Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars / by lee tilghman

It's here... it's pumpkin season, everybody. With Thanksgiving around the corner and as we finally say a (short) goodbye to summer in LA, I couldn't help but re-make one of my all time favorite dishes: pumpkin cheesecake.  But of course, not just any pumpkin cheesecake. I had to make a healthy, plant based, and whole food version!

These bars are 100% vegan and raw. The crust is made from dates, nuts, and coconut, and the filling is a delicious blend of plants. The warming spices fill your heart and stomach up with joy. Because they are vegan and made with whole ingredients, you will feel more satisfied and filled up - and these aren't just a dessert, they are a great mid morning snack or breakfast to-go! They are best enjoyed thawed out on the counter 10-15 minutes before eating.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Ingredients:

Filling:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup frozen avocado
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 medium sized organic raw carrots, peeled
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free yogurt of your choice (there are so many types, try almond milk yogurt, soy yogurt, coconut yogurt, or greek yogurt if you are not a vegan) *Alternatively, if you are 100% raw, you can sub for 1/4 cup of any raw milk of your choice, such as hazelnut milk, almond milk, etc.
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • optional: 1 packet Sprout Living Protein Powder

Crust:

  • 1 cup pitted medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup walnuts

Instructions:

  1. For the crust, place your dates, shredded coconut, almonds and walnuts in a food processor or blender. Blend or process until a sticky dough-like consistency is achieved. The dough should be able to stick together when you pinch it between your fingers.
  2. Lay 4 strips of parchment paper along the outside of a baking tin. I used a 9"x4" tin for these bars, but feel free to use any size you'd like. Place dough onto tin and press down with your fingers until the dough is evenly distributed along the bottom of the pan. Save 2 tbsp of crust to top your bars with. Place your crust tin in the freezer for 30 minutes to set. 
  3. Place all of your filling ingredients into the blender and set on high for 3-4 minutes. Turn off the blender occasionally here to make sure you are getting all of your ingredients down into the blades and blended thoroughly. Once you have a thick, creamy-like batter, pour it over the set crust and take a spatula to smooth things out. 
  4. Before placing in the freezer, add your toppings! You can use granola, nuts, shredded coconut, cacao nibs, Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter, and some of the leftover crust here. 
  5. To eat, let the bar sit out on the counter for 10 minutes to soften before you enjoy.