raw vegan cranberry bliss bars

A reader told me about these Cranberry Bliss Bars that Starbucks sells. She said I should make them healthy - so here you go! I actually didn't know what a Bliss Bar was - I don't go into Starbucks unless I need to get a cup of water or pee - so I had to check it out on their website. According to their description, it is a vanilla cake topped with cream cheese frosting, dried cranberries and an orange drizzle.

Sounds delicious, but I felt bloated just by looking at the ingredients list: 

"Enriched flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), brown sugar, white pastel (sugar, palm kernel & palm oils, whey, nonfat milk, soya lecithin, titanium dioxide [as color], natural flavor, vanilla), cream cheese (pasteurized cream & milk, milk proteins, natural acids, salt, xanthan, carob bean gum & guar gum), cranberries (cranberries, sugar, sunflower oil), unsalted butter (cream [from milk]), eggs, canola oil, sugar (sucrose, cornstarch), ginger (ginger, sugar), water, salt, coconut oil, orange peel (orange peel, sugar, orange oil), maltitol, palm oil, vanilla, cornstarch, baking powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, cornstarch, monocalcium phosphate), baking soda."

AH!? WHAT!? Why is there a paragraph of refined and concentrated sugars, oils and chemicals where a short list of ingredients should be? Oh wait. Those ARE the ingredients. If the cost of indulgence is consuming "sodium acid pyrophosphate" - I'd rather just not indulge. 

But luckily you don't have to eat titanium dioxide to enjoy the sweeter side of life, thanks to biological diversity and the kindness of the plant kingdom. I am ALL FOR indulging, I just think we can do it without killing the planet (palm oil... yikes) or breaking out in acne (hey, sugar and dairy). Agree? 

Let's create whole food treats that we can feel proud of eating; for ourselves, our earth and our animal buddies! These healthified (it's a word, okay) bars are chock-full of fibre, protein, and healthy fats. They are pretty dense though, so I'm guessing you'll just need one. I had one for breakfast and it gave me loads of energy for the day. If you want more than that - go for it. Then have a dance party to stay sexy. 

cranberry bliss bars: makes 8 large triangles

Blondie cake base:
1 cup oats
1 cup buckwheat groats
1 cup dates
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)

Sweet cream cheese icing:
1 cup cashews
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (more or less)
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
1/3 cup agave nectar (or 1/2 cup dates)

White orange drizzle & cranberries:
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil (or cacao butter)
3 tablespoons orange juice 
1/4 teaspoon stevia, if desired (to sweeten and thicken)
1/4 cup dried cranberries 
1 teaspoon orange zest

To make the base: pulse the oats and groats (LOL) in your food processor until they become a rough flour. Add the dates and vanilla and process until it forms a ball. Press into the bottom of a lined baking pan. Set aside, or if you want it to be more like baked cake - dehydrate for a couple hours or use your oven at its lowest temperature. 

To make the cream cheese icing: blend all ingredients until smooth. It's more flavourful if you let it sit a day or two but using it right away is fine too. It's gonna be delicious either way. Spread this over your cake. 

To make the drizzle: blend the melted coconut oil and orange juice together. Add stevia if you want. Sprinkle the dried cranberries and orange zest onto your cake then drizzle on the drizzle. Let it set for a few hours in the fridge. Then enjoy!