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Cranberry Coconut Star Anise Bar (raw, vegan, gluten-free)

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Cranberry-Coconut-Star-Anise-Bar1Looking for a hearty bar that isn’t too sweet and filled with exotic flavors?  Good!  Because I am about to share a recipe with you.   There is a beautiful medley of flavors taking place here… cranberry, coconut and star anise.  Star anise being my favorite!

There is more to the star anise than just being the prettiest spice in the rack.  Its flower-shaped pods add essential flavoring to popular dishes from several cultures.  There are about a handful of spices that I just LOVE to inhale and star anise is one of them… hold in that inhaled breath and the scent coats your throat, leaving a therapeutic calm.  I think we all could use a dose of therapeutic calm, don’t you?

If you can’t get a hold of star anise you could try using anise seed with an added pinch of allspice, although its flavor is different, it can give the bars a pungent, sweet kick and an exotic flair.  Add allspice powder in trace amounts; too much could ruin the bars.

As another alternative, use 1-2 teaspoons of crushed anise seed.  Anise seed is closely related to star anise seed and has a very similar flavor. However, its flavor is much weaker, so you should use about twice as much anise as a substitute for star anise.

Fennel seeds are another good option.  They contain anethole, dianethole and photoanethole, the three same compounds also found in anise, star anise and licorice.  You will need to use twice as much fennel seed as you would of star anise.

And for one last idea for a substitution (gotta give me points for trying)  Chinese five-spice powder, which contains cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper and ground fennel seeds.

And if for some crazy reason you are not to hip to the flavor star anise, skip it all together.  Personally, I loved the flavor combination of the cranberries, coconut and star anise. :)   I tend to find it in my local grocery stores, down the spice aisle or it may be stocked with Mexican foods, near the dried chilies but another great place to check is an Asian supermarket.

When purchasing star anise, look for whole pieces that aren’t broken.  At home, store in a sealed container in a cool dark place.  Properly stored, star anise will last for several months.  Discard once the flavor fades.

Star-Anise1Ingredients: yields 11 bars

  • 2 cups cashews, soak & dehydrate
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon
  • 2-4 star anise, ground (1-2 tsp)
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 cup medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/4 cup raw coconut butter, softened
  • 1 Tbsp raw agave nectar or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup diced dried cranberries


  1. Place the cashews in the food processor, fitted with the “S” blade and process to a small corn meal size.   Place in a small bowl.
  2. Place the coconut into the food process and process it to a fine powder.
  3. Add the cashews back into the machine along with the cinnamon, star anise, and salt.  Pulse together.
  4. Add the dates, coconut butter and agave nectar.  Process until the batter is sticking together.  Note ~ if the dates are really dry, rehydrate them in warm water to help soften.  Discard the soak water and place the dates in the machine.
  5. Add the cranberries and pulse in.
  6. Press the bars into a pan and cut into desired shapes and sizes.  Wrap the bars individually and store in the refrigerator or freezer.
  7. Or dehydrate for 1 hour at 145 degrees (F) for 1 hour, then reduce to 115 (F) and continue drying for about 4-6 hours.  Just long enough to firm up the outside of the bar.  This is what I did.  I also pressed the bars into extra shredded coconut.  This is optional but a nice visual effect.

The Institute of Culinary Ingredients™

  • To learn more about maple syrup by clicking (here).
  • Click (here) for my thoughts on raw agave nectar.
  • Dates are an amazing ingredient for raw food recipes,  click (here) to read why.
  • Why do I specify Ceylon cinnamon?  Click (here) to learn why.
  • What is Himalayan pink salt and does it really matter?  Click (here) to read more about it.
  • Is coconut butter the same as coconut oil?  Click (here) to find out.

Culinary Explanations:

  • Why do I start the dehydrator at 145 degrees (F).  Click (here) to learn the reason behind this.
  • When working with fresh ingredients it is important to taste test as you build a recipe.  Learn why (here).


One of the greatest joys when creating raw food recipes is experimenting with different ingredients… a practice that I highly encourage.  Daily I get questions regarding substitutions.  Of course we all might have different dietary needs and tastes which could necessitate altering a recipe.    I love to share with you what I create for myself, my husband, friends and family.  I spend a lot of time selecting the right ingredients with a particular goal in mind, looking to build a certain flavor and texture.
So as you experiment with substitutions, remember they are what they sound like, they are substitutes for the preferred item.  Generally they are not going to behave, taste, or have the same texture as the suggested ingredient.   Some may work, and others may not and I can’t promise what the results will be unless I’ve tried them myself.   So have fun, don’t be afraid,  and remember, substituting is how I discovered many of my unique dishes.



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14 thoughts on “Cranberry Coconut Star Anise Bar (raw, vegan, gluten-free)

  1. Claudia says:

    I am not wearing my glasses, so I may have missed it, but how many cranberries do the bars call for?

    • amie-sue says:

      Hello Claudia… I used 1/4 cup, thanks for pointing that out so I could fix it. :) Your eyes are just fine! Have a wonderful week, amie sue

  2. RenayB says:

    Good Morning Amie Sue! I hope you’ve been well. It;s been a while since I’ve written, but I follow you everyday on Facebook! All of your recipes make it so easy for me to stay inspired in the kitchen! Many of my friends and family members are now following you on FB as well and they are discovering through you that raw vegan foods can be simply marvelous! Thank you so much for all that you share with us. Thanks again for another beautiful and simple recipe! I think I will make this one before I leave for work this morning!

    • amie-sue says:

      Good morning RenayB,

      Always a pleasure to hear from you. :) All is well on my end… keeping busy and struggling in staying out of trouble. hehe Thank you for your kind words this morning. What a way to start the day! I appreciate that you share my site with others. You are so sweet. Stay inspired and have a blessed day, amie sue

      • RenayB says:

        I made these and just had to report back on how wonderful they were! The flavors – perfectly matched and enticingly delicious, the texture – perfect. The recipe was so simple, it inspired me to start looking at the ways you blend your flavors to invite new ingredients into my personal raw food trials. They went so fast because I shared them with my non-raw family and friends. (Between us, I may hide the second batch!) Thank you again for sharing your gift!

  3. Erin says:


  4. Bonnie says:

    Just wondering why you soak and dehydrated the cashews? and can you use fresh cranberries instead of dried? trying to stay away from white sugar.ty bonnie

    • amie-sue says:

      Hello Bonnie,

      I soak the cashews to help reduce the phytic acid in them, which will help with digestion. I then dehydrate them so I can create a “flour” with them which helps in the binding process. You can use fresh cranberries, just be sure to taste test the batter to see if more sweetener needs to be added. I didn’t use any white sugars in this recipes. The cranberries I use are organic and don’t have any sugars on them.

      Have a great day ! amie sue

  5. Kathy says:

    I am so grateful to get this recipe, I enjoy these flavors so much and can only imagine how delicious these will be. I know they will taste as good as they look, I love how beautifully you wrapped them. You are so brilliant and always make the extra effort to present all your cuisine so beautifully, really makes everything so extra special and so luxurious. Thank you.

    • amie-sue says:

      Thank you Kathy… your message this morning really touched me. :) I am so grateful that raw foods came into my life. It has created a new “art” medium for me to work with and causes me to grow daily. Have a blessed and wonderful day! amie sue

  6. Tara says:


    I would love to make this, but I live in Saudi Arabia. It is hard to get some ingredients. I was wondering if it is possible to substitute the coconut butter??

    I also wanted to sincerely thank you for blessing my life with your many wonderful recipes!!!

  7. Constance says:

    Hey Amie couple quik questions for you
    first how long do I soak the cashews?
    second are you doing your own cranberries or are you buying and if you are buying can I get the product name I keep trying to find organic unsweetened yada yada yada and cant find anything out there so far
    thanks for the help
    I love star anise I will throw it all over things in the holidays just because it looks so pretty

    • amie-sue says:

      Good morning dear Constance :)

      Always soak the cashews for least 2+ hours.

      I don’t always make my own cranberries so like you, I search for the best quality ones I can find that aren’t loaded with sugars, etc. This company makes them without anything added. http://www.shorelinefruit.com/cart/14/unsweetened-dried-fruit/dried-unsweetened-cranberries—1-lb At one time I bought a huge bag of dried, organic, plain cranberries but I will be darned if I can find the vendor name. I know that I found it on-line. But it was so time ago and I have them stored in the fridge for freshness. I have been looking for the past 15 minutes and can’t find the email from ordering it. If I do, I will keep you posted.

      I LOVE star anise and fennel seeds… heaven! Have a happy day, amie sue

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