Pumpkin and Chocolate Chip Bars (Healthy, gluten-free and vegan)

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It’s that time of year when everything is coming up pumpkin!  I couldn’t resist trying out this recipe from Jamie Vespa over at Dishing Out Health.  I only slightly modified it by adding some millet flour to give it more substance and also a little more leavening. 

I had an overflow of winter squash and pumpkin, so I have been looking for different ways to use it.  You can most certainly use canned pumpkin here, but if you are like me and have a need to use some pumpkins or squash, here’s how to prepare it. 

  1. It’s best to select smallish pumpkins (unless they are Cinderella pumpkins or Fairytale pumpkins which have amazingly sweet, dark orange flesh that works great here).  The large Jack-O-Lantern type pumpkins are not worth all the effort for cooking with, trust me.  I may have tried once.  I have used sugar pumpkins, acorn squash, kabocha squash, butternut squash, Fairytale pumpkins and Cinderella pumpkins with good results.  Any extra you are not using for your recipe can be frozen in 1 or 2-cup amounts in freezer containers or bags for future uses – like smoothies or cakes or pumpkin pie or pumpkin soup!
  2. Cut your squash or pumpkin in half  (or quarters, if it is bigger) and remove the seeds and pulp.  No need to be super thorough here. A little extra pulp will be just fine. 
  3. Save the seeds, if you like, to make roasted pepitas!  Easiest way to free the seeds from their pulpy chains, is to put them in a bowl of water and use your hands to separate. They come free much easier this way.
  4. Place pumpkin pieces on baking sheet(s) anyway you like.  I have done it both cut side down or skin side down, doesn’t matter really. Roast at 350º F for about 45 minutes or until fork tender. 
  5. Let cool a bit, then remove the skin. It comes off pretty easily once baked. Place as much of the flesh in your food processor as you can (or you can just mash extra well with fork or masher) and process until smooth. Put into a bowl.  Repeat with more pumpkin until you have processed it all.  Note – If the puree is overly watery, you should strain it through cheesecloth or over a fine mesh strainer to get rid of some of the liquid.  Mine was fairly dry so I actually added a couple of tablespoons of water to help it along. 
  6. At this point you are ready to use your pumpkin in your recipe, or store in fridge or freezer.  It should keep in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for 6 months or more.  

Now, back to the bars… just a few notes.

I use a nice generous tablespoon (or maybe slightly more?) of Pumpkin Pie Spice. You can certainly go ahead and buy some, but I have a recipe for making it yourself if you don’t want to run out to the store.  Hopefully, you have most of the spices in your pantry, but if you are missing one or two, don’t worry.  It will still work.

I prepared these bars both with eggs and without (using flax eggs).  They both turned out well, but the eggless one didn’t rise quite as much.  Still lovely and delicious. No one will know the difference!

If you are baking for someone who is dairy-sensitive, like some in my family, be sure to use vegan chocolate chips.

If you make these little wonders, please let me know how it worked out for you.  I love to hear from you!

 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars (vegan and gluten-free)

Healthy pumpkin chocolate chip bars are moist and delicious and just happen to be gluten-free and can be easily made vegan as well. Bars for the masses!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dessert bars, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, snack bars
Servings: 12
Author: Kiki Simpson, Healthy Sexy Kitchen

Ingredients

  • ½ cup pumpkin puree be generous!
  • cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup nut butter I used cashew. Be generous with your measurement here!
  • 2 large eggs or flax eggs for vegan (see notes below)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (60g) almond flour
  • ¼ cup (40g) millet flour
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice Check out the Notes for link to my pumpkin spice recipe.
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt if using unsalted nut butter, increase to ½ tsp
  • ½ cup chocolate chips of choice plus more for placing on top

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line an 8x8-inch (20x20-cm) baking dish with a cut sheet of parchment paper that is cut to fit the bottom in one direction and overhangs the sides in the other direction. Lightly grease with oil or spray.
  • In a large bow, combine the pumpkin, maple, nut butter, eggs (or flax eggs), and vanilla. Stir or whisk to combine well.
  • In a separate medium bowl, combine almond flour, millet flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk together.
  • Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir just until combined. Using a rubber or silicone spatula, fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish. Place extra chocolate chips over the top as desired.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean (try to avoid chocolate chips when testing). Let cool in the baking dish for 30 minutes. Use the overhanging parchment to remove bars from the pan and let cool completely before slicing into bars.

Notes

It's easy to make your own Pumpkin Pie Spice.  Check out my recipe HERE.
To make it Vegan
Replace the 2 large eggs with flax eggs.  Combine 2 tablespoons finely ground flax meal with 6 tablespoons water. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. Use just like eggs. 
Use vegan chocolate chips.
How to store
These bars can be stored at room temperature for about 2 days, then they should be refrigerated after. Of course, they can be refrigerated as soon as completely cooled. They should last up to a week stored this way.  Wrap bars in plastic wrap, foil or in an air-tight container.
You can freeze these bars for up to 2 months.  Transfer sliced bars to freezer storage bags or containers. 

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