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Trail Treats: Pistachio Halva Bars

Halva (Halwa) is often a very sugary treat that can be made many ways but is often based on sesame/honey and a boiled syrup (think candy making). Which while delicious isn’t something I can justify in our current way of eating. But I got inspired that maybe I could make a bar treat that was inspired by it but remain less processed.

I played with it and made a mostly raw batch, cut into bars. I also opted in for brown sesame seeds rather than the more common white hulled seeds. It gives a deep robust flavor, especially when paired with maple syrup. Use what you prefer, if you are not used to whole sesame seeds I recommend going with white (also sold as ‘raw’). And should you love really robust, try finding black sesame seeds. They have an amazing flavor (black sesame oil is a real treat!)

And feel free to play with the sweetener, use what you like as well. Raw honey is the traditional choice.

Pistachio Halva Bars


  • 2 cups brown sesame seeds or hulled white sesame seeds
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup or raw honey
  • ¼ cup shelled pistachio nuts, finely chopped (roasted or not, salted or plain)
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • ¼ tsp or to taste ground cinnamon


Grind the sesame seeds to a flour-like texture in a spice or coffee grinder.


You need your grinder to be clean. Grind through it a handful of raw rice and dump out, the rice removes the scent left behind from spices.

Why a spice or coffee grinder and not a high-powered device such as a Vitamix blender? Simply put, sesame seeds are over 50% oil. They will turn to a butter before you know it. And more so, the more powerful the device, the higher the heat output. And that means the seeds will warm up.

Grind a small amount, dump into a large mixing bowl, then grind a bit more, and repeat. A couple of tablespoons is plenty.

If your grinder gets heated up , stop and let it cool. You want flour, not sesame butter.

Once done, stir in half the maple syrup, salt and cinnamon. For ease put on a pair of food grade gloves and mix with fingers. Keep adding teh maple syrup, until the mixture sticks together, and is as sweet as you desire.

Line a bread pan with plastic wrap, pack the mixture in, smooth out and wrap the excess plastic over. Press down firmly to pack.

Refrigerate for a couple of hours, unwrap and cut into bars. Wrap each bar tightly, store in the refrigerator until trail time.

Due to the high fat content, these bars carry best in the cooler months. They can also be rolled into balls and flattened into “cookies” and wrapped.


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