New Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bars Recipe

Freshly frosted gluten-free pumpkin bars with a secret ingredient.

Turning, Turning, To Simple Gifts

Tuning in to the particular (and fleeting) pleasures of each changing season as we ride the wheel of the year may be my favorite spiritual practice. A practice that requires one simple thing. Attention. Which turns out to be not so simple, inevitably. Because life is anything but simple, with its whitewater rush of mind numbing distractions that demand less and less of our soul and more and more of our mental focus on exterior minutia. Micro decisions. Cleaning out our email in-box. Catching up with Facebook feeds and Twitter streams and Google+. Texting about grocery lists. Scanning streaming video options for one decent romantic comedy (I have- on too many occasions to count- spent a full hour gaping, borderline comatose, at an LCD screen, scrolling title after title, only to arrive at the sane conclusion that you know what? I'd rather read a book). Thousands (millions?) of choices may glitter and ooze their high definition glow but I find I am not feeling the abundance.

I am less and less enamored with more.

I know. It's showing. My age. My childhood brain was wired for mud and bird calls, blackberry thickets and butterscotch pine. Hours spent reading in a grove of birch trees dug their neural groove. The wild luxuries of inner connection, rather than social networking. And TIME. That plastic, misunderstood, precious commodity that shape-shifts experience from an endless afternoon of liquid daylight into a heart clutching warp speed tumble of confusion. Decades become tiny sandwiches of memory you can barely taste anymore.

Weeks blink by with alarming velocity.

And here we are again.

In pumpkin season.

And so. I stop. And notice the way the late day sun drops low and shimmers golden in the treeline. The crows are gathering earlier. Glossy black and strutting with authority. The smell of burnished leaves scuttling across a wet Cape sidewalk is the same smell I inhaled on a road trip in Vermont fifteen years ago, standing on a wooden bridge above a clear shallow creek while our sons balanced on the slick rocks below us, fishing for smooth round stones.

Do they remember this? Do they remember the same hours I do, in the sand on Skaket Beach? Do they ever have a sudden itch to feed their senses with the scents and sounds of a freshwater riverbed, a sun warmed tide pool? Do they crave a winding path through apple trees? Were their brains hardwired for this connection, too?

I ponder this as I stir a new pumpkin batter.

And breathe in the scents of ginger and cinnamon, listening to the leafy rustle of an almond flour bag as I fold up the cellophane and pinch it closed with a clothespin.

Fall brings us many pleasures- and pumpkin bars are at the top of my list.

Karina's New Pumpkin Bar Recipe

Originally published October 2011.

These high fiber, protein rich pumpkin bars are too delicious for breakfast. They may even be too decadent for afternoon tea. Because, yes, I used brown sugar. And yes, I frosted them with a dairy-free vegan cream cheese icing. I couldn't help myself.


1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup Ancient Harvest quinoa flakes
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 1/2 cup organic light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 large organic free range eggs or Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 cup cooked pumpkin puree
1/2 cup organic coconut oil
2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, spices and salt. Make a well in the center and add in the eggs, pumpkin, coconut oil and vanilla extract. Beat for two minutes until the batter becomes smooth and slightly sticky. Add in the walnuts by hand and stir.

Scoop the batter into the pan and spread evenly, smoothing out the top with wet fingers. Bake on the center rack for 25 to 35 minutes, until the center is firm to the touch. Cool on a wire rack.

Frost when cooled with Vegan Cream Cheese Icing, recipe follows.

Note to dairy lovers- if you prefer dairy cream cheese- knock yourself out. It's all good.

Vegan Cream Cheese Icing

Vegan cream cheese tends to be softer than its moo-cow sister, so if you prefer using dairy cream cheese, try the lighter whipped style.

For the icing:

2 cups powdered sugar, more if needed
1/2 cup vegan cream cheese
2-3 teaspoons vanilla, as needed

Pour the powdered sugar into a mixing bowl and add the cream cheese. Start beating to combine the cream cheese and sugar. Add the vanilla extract a teaspoon at a time, and beat until the icing is smooth. If the icing is too stiff add a teaspoon of vanilla rice milk. If the icing gets too thin, add more sugar and beat.

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For substitution help, please see my guide to baking with substitutions here.



  1. Oh they look soooo good. You gotta stop it with the non-dairy creamcheese stuff--I live outside the US where it is impossible to get, and it just makes me so homesick! Pumpkins I can get, though. Maybe I will try a bit of lemon in my icing recipe for that tangy couterpoint.

  2. I too yearn for that simplicity, that deep connection that intertwines us all to the earth and the spirit. Your writing so beautifully captures my own sentiments about this season! I don't think it shows age, but rather wisdom. And being 25 with the same views should drive that point home :0) Thank you for your lovely insights once again!

  3. Love these pumpkin bars, but even more, I love this post, and couldn't agree with you more. My son's football season, which required 2+ hour, 3 x/wk practices and 1 game each week, just ended, so today, after school, my kids and I had nothing to do but walk to the neighborhood pharmacy for Halloween treats, then saunter on home, saying Hi to neighbors on the way, just enjoying a gorgeous afternoon. These simple days are truly the best! Happy Halloween!

  4. You just inspired me to get off the computer and go take a walk. My brain has been feeling foggedy flickety goopy a little mouse running around drunk. I need to get away from all this technology and just breathe in the air!

  5. Karina,
    I don't even cook much but I was inspired to make both your GF Southwestern Pumpkin chowder AND your GF pear apple crisp and talk about easy and delish! You make gluten free fun and you are a poet to boot. I'm a fan.

  6. These look amazing! Going to have to try them.

  7. karina, this looks fabulous! i just made a gf pumpkin bars recipe, but haven't quite perfected it yet. i love how you used quinoa flakes - it helps bind and give such great texture to gf baking!

  8. What a lovely recipe, with great inspiration to slow down and take time to stop and smell the pumpkins :)

  9. oooh
    this Gluten Free woman is PRINTING

    Thank you.


  10. I can't wait to try this recipe, thanks!

    I find myself like you, finding that life is moving too fast, and try to remind myself everyday to stop and smell the roses. I wish my two adolescents would do the same, they seem to have temporarily forgotten to look around themselves.

  11. Your writing and your cooking are both fabulous. And I do hope this new post means you're feeling better!

  12. I have been thoroughly enjoying all your pumpkin recipes (everyone in my home loved the cupcakes) but I've had to substitute sweet potato puree in place of pumpkin because of my newly discovered, completely awful pumpkin allergy. I never knew I was allergic before I was diagnosed with celiacs because I always felt sick whenever I ate anything - so it was hard to tell.

    Your blog has helped me infinitely more that even cutting out gluten did - I don't feel so alone in my dietary experiments. I'm also a very recently converted vegetarian to meat eater and I think that was even harder than cutting out gluten (among many other things). My year long journey and struggle continues into another year, but somehow, it seems a lot better with your blog.

    Thank you.

  13. Wow...thats a lovely bar recipe. Super tempting :)

  14. The photography is wonderful! The texture of the bars is sure to be satisfying, especially with the creamy topping.... I would need to replace the quinoa flower. Should I just double up on one of the other flowers? Thanks!

  15. Oh sorry -just saw your substitution guidelines! I will go and check that out.

  16. Do you have any... ANY idea how much you are loved and appreciated???
    Karina - I surely hope so.
    You are SUCH an inspiration... not just the food you make... but the attitude you take.

  17. Karina, it's like you read my mind, I have been thinking about making pumpkin bars with creamcheese frosting! i love carrot cake and one of my favorite thing about the fall is the excuse to have spiced pumpkin deserts! i cant wait to try!

  18. I rarely leave comments on your blog but you have to know: Oh my God, I so looooove all the pumpkin recipes you've posted lately... Thanks!!!

  19. Love your blog Karina - I awarded you the Liebster blog award.
    Also, I made your pumpkin pie for thanksgiving ( - had a few mishaps but it was still wonderful.

  20. I just discovered your blog but it is already into my favourites!!! I have to go to work now but I can see a lot of reading for me as soon as i come back. Thank you so much, I recently developed a gluten alergy and I am quite new in all the gluten free diet, so you are like present from the Gods to me.

  21. Karina - thank you for another fabulous recipe. I made these the other day and the whole family LOVES them!

  22. These look lovely! I have been directed to start living Gluten Free recently and am having the darnedest time finding gluten free recipes that taste good. Most don't taste very good at all!

    I'm going to have to try these! YUM!

  23. Hot damn! I just made some pumpkin cupcakes with vegan cream, but these actually look healthier! Thank you, quinoa :)

  24. these look fabulous! I am going to make them for my friend who is a gluten free goddess as well ;) thanks for the recipe!

  25. I made these today and let me just say, they are awesome! I wasn't sure if they were going to turn out as my batter was so thick. I was afraid they would be too dry, but they are very moist! My husband said it is his favorite od my GF treats so far.

  26. I love the Internet and postings like these! With more allergies than options, this is the perfect blog for me. Keep up the good work.

  27. Hi Karina,
    Thank you so much for all of the wonderful GF/DF recipes! You are a saint for sharing your wisdom.

    Question, how horrible would it be to substitute minced garlic for powdered garlic?

    Thanks again!


  28. Thank you all for the lovely comments. xox

    Amanda- I say whatever floats your boat. Sometimes a milder garlic is easier on the tummy. So go for it.


  29. Great recipe. Just tried a piece and I had to wrap them up before I was tempted to eat the whole pan.

  30. Great recipe! I used sweet potato instead of pumpkin and they were great. Thanks for sharing!

  31. Saw this recipe yesterday and had to try it. We baked them tonight and I AM BLOWN WAY!!!!! I couldn't believe it. You can not tell these are vegan or gluten free for that matter. I'm so Thankful I have this wonderful recipe to get us through the holidays with. Being allergic to cloves, it is really had to find seasonal pumpkin recipes with out it in it. This was perfectly balanced and I did not have to remove anything!

  32. Anonymous14:17



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Wishing you a delicious and beautiful day!

Karina - Gluten-Free Goddess xox