PB&J Sandwich Bars with Oat, Maple, Cashew Cookies. A Healthy Dessert.
Ingredients: Frozen organic berries, agar agar (to make berry jam solidify slightly), maple syrup (to sweeten the oat cookies, jam, and PB mousse), natural unsweetened peanut butter, GMO-free silken tofu (for the pb mousse filling), soaked cashews and oats (for the raw crust/cookies).
First make the berry jam by heating the defrosted berries in a pot.
Add 2 tbsp of maple syrup to sweeten it slightly, and balance the tartness.
Whisk in 2 tbsp of agar agar powder. Stir for a minute, then turn off the heat and let it cool slightly. You can add the agar powder to 2 tbsp of water separately in a bowl and then stir this in, but I find there’s enough liquid in the melted berries/maple syrup to absorb the powder. Agar is a seaweed based thickener, the healthiest plant-based option, instead of using gelatin or starches.
In a blender or food processor, mix the berry mixture until smooth.
Set aside while you make the cashew/oat crust!
Rinse the soaked cashews, and mix in a high powered blender or food processor, along with 4 tbsp of maple syrup.
Then add in the oats, a small pinch of salt and pulse until a dough is formed.
Press the cashew/oat dough into a lined pan, and let it harden in the freezer or fridge.
On to the silken tofu & peanut butter mousse filling!
Add the box of silken tofu, peanut butter, and maple syrup to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
Refrigerate the mousse.
Remove the crust from the freezer, and slice into smaller pieces, to create a top and bottom for the bars.
Spread the PB mousse on one cookie.
Then top with jam add another square of cookie.
Inspired by the childhood classic, this PB&J dessert is made from nutritious whole-food ingredients, with minimal added sugars from maple syrup only. Packed with plant-based protein, fiber-rich complex carbohydrates, good fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants!
- Frozen organic berries
- Agar agar powder
- Maple syrup
- Natural smooth peanut butter
- GMO-free silken tofu
- Cashews, soaked in water
- Rolled oats, blended into a chunky flour
- Make the berry jam by heating up the berries in a pot. Add 2 tbsp of maple syrup and stir. Then whisk in 2 tbsp of agar agar powder. Stir for a minute until it dissolves, keep whisking. Then turn off the heat and let it cool and thicken.
- In a blender or food processor, mix the berry mixture until smooth. Set aside in the fridge to let is solidify.
- Make the cashew/oat dough by rinsing the soaked cashews, and grinding them in a food processor, along with 4 tbsp of maple syrup. Set aside. Then add the oats and pulse into a rough flour. Add the cashews/maple mixture back in to the food processor, and combine the two until a dough is formed. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may be able to mix both the cashews and oats at the same time, but for even consistency I did it in 2 stages. Press the cashew/oat dough into a plastic wrap lined pan, and let it solidify in the fridge.
- Make the PB/tofu mousse by mixing the silken tofu, peanut butter, and maple syrup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside in the fridge to solidify.
- Remove the oat/cashew cookie crust from the fridge, and slice into smaller pieces, creating a tops and bottoms for the bites. Layer one side of the cookie with PB mousse, then the jam, and top with another layer of crust. Keep chilled in the fridge before serving. The PB mousse and jam will ooze out of the bars slightly when you eat them, but I think this makes for a more enjoyable experience!
– Peanuts aka groundnuts are actually a legume, part of the Fabaceae family along with beans and peas. Like all legumes, peanuts are packed with plant-based protein, and other essential macro and micro nutrients. 100 grams of raw peanuts contains 25 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber. They are also a source of unsaturated healthy monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and omega fats. Peanuts contain Vitamin E, B vitamins, calcium, manganese, magnesium, and zinc.
– Silken tofu (organic/GMO-free) is packed with plant-based protein, iron and calcium.
– Cashews are a complete protein source, offering all 9 essential amino acids. They are also a source of healthy monounsaturated fats and omega fats, fiber, calcium, magnesium, and fiber.
– Oats provide fiber-rich complex carbohydrates, protein, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and B vitamins.
– Raspberries are a good source of Vitamin C, K, B vitamins, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and fiber. Strawberries are one of the best sources of Vitamin C! they also contains vitamin K, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and plenty of fiber. Berries are also packed with antioxidants such as polyphenols, phenolic acids, and flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Berries are lower glycemic fruits, so they won’t spike your blood sugar levels.
– People often ask about the nutritional difference between frozen vs. fresh berries, assuming that frozen is less healthy than fresh, but this is not always the case. When in season, local berries that have been freshly harvested are ideal, both nutritionally and flavour wise. However when a fruit is out of season, the frozen varieties will provide more vitamins (especially vitamin C) than the imported ‘fresh’ stuff, as vitamins are depleted with exposure to light, temperature, and time. Imported berries are typically harvested before being fully ripe, given the long distances they travel. Frozen berries however, are frozen immediately after being picked, which preserves their nutrients AND flavour. According to the research, there is no statistically significant differences between antioxidant levels in fresh vs. frozen berries, so you will not lose those benefits when eating frozen fruit. Also, frozen berries are usually cheaper than fresh when out of season, even the organic varieties! This is key considering that strawberries and other soft-skinned fruits are at the top of the ‘dirty dozen’ list’ – foods that have high levels of pesticide/chemical residues.
– Agar agar comes from algae/seaweed, serving as a fantastic plant-based alternative to gelatine. It is activated when dissolved in boiling water/liquid, acting as an affective thickener . It also acts like bran or flax on the gut, supporting regular elimination. Commonly used in Thai desserts, the ‘Telephone’ is my favourite brand of Agar, which can be found at Asian markets, China town, or online here.
– Maple syrup is my liquid sweetener of choice, as this is lowest glycemic product of all liquid sweeteners. It is produced locally, and even offers some minerals. Otherwise, I suggest used date paste (see my recipe HERE) which is the ultimate whole-food sweetener.