Elisa Watson
Makes 18 bars

Dessert doesn’t always have to be a luxury reserved for special occasions—especially if you’re treating yourself to healthy sweets. The Healthy Convert ($13, amazon.com), a new cookbook by Nicole Maree (the genius behind Kayla Itsines’ The Bikini Body recipes), is packed with mouthwatering, diet-friendly dessert recipes. After years of dealing with digestion issues and food intolerances, Maree has finally mastered the art of converting her favorite treats into allergy-friendly alternatives. She shares her tried-and-true tips, offering plenty of creative substitutes to seemingly essential kitchen staples like sugar, eggs, and oil—the book even dedicates an entire chapter to must-have ingredients to create her health-packed desserts. As Maree would say, no one ever needs to miss out!

Just because a dessert is dairy and gluten-free, it doesn’t mean it can't indulge your sweet tooth and this strawberry blonde bar recipe is a perfect example of that. Using sweet replacements like coconut, malt syrup, and dates, Maree’s version of this tasty dessert is sure to please any type of crowd.

Read on to find out how you can enjoy this deliciousness, minus the guilt.

Strawberry Blonde Bars

How to Make It

Put the cashew nuts for the filling in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak for 30 minutes.
Line the base and sides of a 20 cm x 20 cm x 7 cm deep (8 in × 8 in × 2 3/4 in) square springform cake tin with baking paper, allowing the sides to overhang. Set aside.
Blend the base ingredients and 30 ml (1 fl oz) water in your food processor until the mixture starts to come together. Press the mixture firmly into the base of your prepared tin. Freeze while you prepare the filling.
Drain and rinse the cashew nuts very well. Blend the cashew nuts, rice malt syrup, coconut oil, coconut cream, lemon juice and vanilla in your food processor until silky smooth and well combined.
Remove half the filling from the food processor and set aside. Add the strawberries to the food processor and blend until smooth. Pour the strawberry filling over the base and freeze for 1.5 hours.
Once set, pour the remaining filling over the strawberry layer. Freeze for 1 hour.
Before serving, sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Carefully remove from the cake tin and discard the baking paper.
Cut into bars using a warm, sharp knife. Garnish each bar with a drizzle of melted coconut butter and chopped macadamia nuts. Decorate with a halved strawberry to serve.
Store the remaining bars in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month.
FILLING300 g (10 1/2 oz) raw cashew nuts180 ml (6 fl oz) rice malt syrup60 g (2 oz) coconut oil400 ml (13 1/2 fl oz) tinned coconut cream60 ml (2 fl oz / 1/4 cup) freshly squeezed lemon juice1 teaspoon vanilla extract180 g (6 1/2 oz) fresh strawberries, hulled
GARNISH100 g (3 1/2 oz) coconut butter, melted9 fresh strawberries, halved20 g (3/4 oz) macadamia nuts, chopped

Chef's Notes

You can use maple syrup in place of rice malt syrup.

Cookbook Source

Recipe excerpted with permission from The Healthy Convert by Nicole Maree, published by Hardie Grant Books September 2017, RRP $19.99 hardcover.

You May Like