I’m really proud of this recipe. I’ve served these delicious lime bars to vegans, non-vegans, and people who don’t even know what “vegan” means. Everybody loves them. I’ve secretly smiled to myself as people who would never dream of eating tofu scarf down second and third bars. Healthy they are, but sinful they taste.
My first few batches were a bit anemic looking, so I started brainstorming ways to brighten up their color. Synthetic food coloring wouldn’t do…the chemicals in those dyes have been linked to too many scary health problems. It would have to be something natural.
When I saw the bright green dinosaur kale in our farm share this week I knew I had to try it. And that’s the secret ingredient in my vegan lime bars. Kale juice. It adds no detectable flavor to the scrumptious confections but it both brightens up the color and amps up the health factor. I imagine spinach juice would work well too.
Of course, moderation is key (couldn’t cut out the sugar or the calories), but sans butter, egg yolks and white flour, you can feel a little better about indulging in these vibrant tasting bars. The antioxidant boosting shot of kale juice is an added bonus!
These bars are dense and rich, so you can cut them pretty small – 2 inch squares should do it.
Secret Vegan Lime Bars
makes 16 small bars
1/2 C coconut oil (in solid or liquid state)
1/4 C raw sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/2 spelt flour
1/2 C nigari tofu (from Trader Joe’s in the antiseptic package) or silken tofu
3/4 C raw sugar
2 T lime zest
1/4 C fresh lime juice
1 tsp fresh kale juice
1/2 tsp agar powder (not flakes)
- preheat oven to 350 degrees
- spray an 8×8 glass baking dish with PAM. Line with parchment paper and then spray the parchment with PAM. Set aside.
- in a large bowl, stir together the crust ingredients. Mixture will be dry and crumbly but should hold together when squeezed.
- using your fingers, press the crust into the lined baking dish. Bake crust for 20 minutes.
- to extract the kale juice, you can use a juicer or you can pulverize the kale leaves in a food processor and then squeeze out the juice through a fine mesh sieve. (see photo above) Make sure to save the pulp – you can add it to pesto or use it in baking for extra nutrients and fiber.
- remove the excess liquid from the tofu by pressing it with your fingers into a paper towel lined sieve.
- in a food processor, blend all the filling ingredients together until smooth.
- pour the filling into the baked crust. Put it back in the oven for about 25 minutes. Bars are done when bubbly and just beginning to brown around the edges.
- allow the bars to cool FULLY before trying to cut them. They will not set until they have fully cooled. You can place them in the refrigerator or freezer to speed up the process.
- Once bars are completely cool, the filling should be firm and gel-like. Grasping the parchment paper, lift the whole slab out of the pan and set on a cutting board. Remove the parchment (it may be stuck at the corners). Using a large knife, cut into squares.