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Citrus Polenta Bars With Maple Roasted Pecans [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

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These polenta bars are great for a party appetizer or meal spread. To make the bars, polenta is cooked in coconut milk with maple syrup and orange juice. Fresh rosemary and thyme and a pinch of ground nutmeg help to round out the sweetness. The pecan topping is perfectly crunchy and sweet. You can even get away with serving these bars as part of a breakfast or brunch spread because they aren’t overly sweet and the ingredients are relatively wholesome.

Citrus Polenta Bars With Maple Roasted Pecans [Vegan, Gluten-Free]


For the Bars:

  • 3/4 cup polenta (corn meal)
  • 1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • A pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Pecans:

  • 3/4 cup whole pecans
  • 1 heaped tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Coarse sea salt or fleur de sel, to taste


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease an 8×8-inch square pan with coconut oil, then line it with parchment paper leaving an overhang for easy removal of the bars once they are baked.
  2. Put the coconut milk, maple syrup, juice of the orange, and a pinch of salt in a pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the mixture comes to a boil, whisk in the polenta, vanilla, nutmeg, herbs, and orange zest. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Whisk the polenta continuously for 5-10 minutes until it has thickened significantly. Pour the polenta into your prepared pan and smooth out the top with a spatula. Set it aside while you make the pecans.
  3. In a small pan set over medium heat, combine the coconut oil and syrup. Once the oil has melted, add the pecans. Toss the pecans occasionally as the syrup mixture begins to bubble and thicken. When the syrup mixture is the consistency of honey, add a good pinch of coarse sea salt then toss the pecans once more before removing the pan from the heat. Spread the pecans in an even layer over the polenta making sure to press them in a bit to help them adhere.
  4. Bake the bars at 400°F for 25 minutes until the pecans are deeply golden and the polenta has pulled away from the sides of the pan. Cool the bars completely before slicing. Store leftovers covered at room temperature for 1-2 days, or five days covered in the refrigerator. Makes 9 to 16 bars depending on how small you slice them.





It is my personal journey to not only share what I eat as a vegan but to portray the vegan diet as one of inclusion, not exclusion. When I’m not photographing food and developing recipes for Sweet Miscellany, I’m working towards becoming a holistic health coach and yoga instructor and exploring my hometown of Houston, Texas.



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