The kid in all of us reminisces about Chewy Granola Bars, Pop Tarts, and other hand-held sweet treats that were passed off for healthy snacks and/or breakfasts, right? I mean… who are we kidding? Are two S’mores Pop Tarts really part of a healthy breakfast, as advertised?
I love sweet. I love baked goods. I love the accessibility of having things like Chewy Granola Bars on hand when I need a snack or an on-the-go breakfast that will go nicely with tea or coffee. I don’t love preservatives. I don’t love factory-cooked foods.
At least, not anymore.
I found a fantastic recipe online for granola bars and although I didn’t have any nuts or dried fruits to add to the mix, adding lots of grainy, high-fiber goodness did just fine in the end. I’ll definitely be making these again, but with more mix-ins next time!
Regardless, I made these really POP! with flavor by making my own raspberry syrup in place of the maple syrup or agave the original recipe calls for. Any fruit or berry will do!
I always have a soft spot for recipes that are just basic — not mandatory ingredients… just the framework for a dish that can be adjusted for and catered to everyone’s individual likings. As a friend of mine just told me today, it’s always best to teach skills, not a recipe!
Vegan Raspberry Oat Bars
Inspired by Healthy. Happy. Life.’s “Kitchen Sink Granola Bars”.
Makes 8 bars.
For the bars themselves…
- 2 cups oats
- 2 tbsp oil (I used virgin coconut oil)
- 1/2 cup ground flax (or wheat germ)
- 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup reserved unsweetened coconut (I used macaroon sized flakes, but you can use whichever you’d like, depending on your preferred consistency)
- 1/4 cup sugar (I used organic granulated, but you can use turbinado, sucanat, or even a liquid like agave or maple)
- 3/4 cup liquid sweetener (I made my own raspberry syrup – see the recipe below)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened, salt-free nut butter (I used almond)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- Any mix-ins you’d like, such as nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, goji berries, cacao nibs, dried fruit, pretzel bits, etc. I just didn’t have any on hand!
For the raspberry syrup…
- 1 cup raspberries, washed (I used fresh organic, but you can use frozen if you’d like)
- 2 tbsp liquid sweetener (maple, agave, etc.)
Make the syrup by putting both ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. When the raspberries begin to break down and the liquid bubbles, lower to medium-low and stir.
Break down the raspberries by using the back of a wooden spoon or spatula. Once all of the berries are broken down, remove from heat.
I ended up with exactly 3/4 cup, as the recipe calls for, but if you are short, just add a bit more liquid sweetener to it until it reaches 3/4 cup.
Set the sauce aside.
Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper on all sides and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Put the oil of your choice in a large pan over medium-high heat. When the oil gets warm, add the oats, flax (or wheat germ), and 1/2 cup of coconut to the pan. Stir every 30 seconds or so until the mixture becomes fragrant, set aside.
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, add the sugar, liquid sweetener (this would be the raspberry sauce, if you made it), vanilla, cinnamon, and nut butter. Stir until combined. Add the oat mixture and mix with a spatula until combined.
Put the mixture into the baking dish. Top with the remaining coconut flakes (and any other toppings you want, really!) and push in so they won’t fall off of the bars when they’re done.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges are golden. Using the parchment paper, lift the slab from the pan and onto a cooling rack. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into 8 portions with a very sharp non-serrated knife.
These can be stored at room temperature in a tupperware for a few days, or as long as 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Delicious and very, very good for you! In just one bar you get tons of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and just enough sweetness to make it almost cookie-like!
The best way to eat these, you ask?
Slightly warm, with some almond milk!