From Blissful Basil by Ashley Melillo (BenBella Books, 2016)

I’ve seen The Godfather more times than I can count. Around the time, I was just starting high school, it became a New Year’s Day tradition to watch the three-hour movie while consuming a comforting Italian feast with family. Although I’m not down with the violence in the film, the one thing I can agree with is the above line—taken apart from the fact that the character that made the statement had just shot someone, of course. Anger, guns, and violence? Leave it behind. Let’s eat sweet Italian dessert with a plant-passionate twist instead.

Leave the gun. Take the cannoli. — The Godfather



  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 2/3 cup packed and pitted Medjool dates
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • 1 cup raw shelled pistachios
  • 1 cup packed and pitted Medjool dates


  • 2 tablespoons raw cacao nibs
  • 1 tablespoon crushed raw pistachios


For the Cannoli Filling

  1. Soak the cashews and dates in hot water for 30 minutes to soften; drain.
  2. Add the soaked cashews and dates, filtered water, lemon juice, almond extract, and cinnamon to a food processor. Process for 6–8 minutes, or until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. The texture should resemble a thick frosting.

For the Pistachio Crust

  1. Line a 5 × 10-inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. Add the pistachios and dates to a food processor, pulse 10 times, and then process until the mixture begins to clump together, adding more dates if needed. It should stick together when pressed between your fingers.
  3. Scoop the crust mixture into the lined pan and use your hands to press and compact it into an even layer.

Makes: 12 bars,1 hour + GF

Keepin’ It Raw? No Problem | To keep this dessert raw, swap out the almond extract for pure almond oil.
No Need to Keep It Raw? | Feel free to substitute roasted, unsalted pistachios for the raw pistachios and chopped vegan dark chocolate for the raw cacao nibs.



Unlock your full potential for a healthier life!

Join our Inspire Health community today and subscribe to our newsletter for expert insights, empowering tips, and exclusive offers. Don’t miss out on your chance to be inspired. 

recommended for you