I’d told Theo last week that we were going to stop eating his favorite kid food bar (oat-based, but has added sugar! Organic cane sugar is still sugar, dudes, and it shouldn’t be your second ingredient in a kid’s bar). Fortunately, he’s been loving helping us in the kitchen, so when I said we would find a recipe and make his bars together, he was very excited.
Today we finally sat down together to find a recipe (he insisted on helping, which meant looking through a few of my cookbooks). Sadly, every recipe in my books (or initial perusal in the usual places I check online) was extremely sugary. Even though they weren’t adding processed sugar, they still used a fair amount of maple syrup, agave syrup, or brown rice syrup. Some called for dates, but way too many. I didn’t want Theo maxing out with so much sugar after having just one food bar. Especially since these bars had become our easy, on-the-go snack to grab.
I finally found one recipe that was already vegan and had pretty low sugar when I entered the main ingredients into a nutrition calculator online. I didn’t have a couple of the ingredients, but a few recipe replacements and additions and we were ready to go.
It’s very rewarding when you modify a recipe and it still works. This is based on the 4-Ingredient Banana Oat Bars recipe from the kitchn, and you’ll notice this is no longer 4 ingredients, but still quite easy and fast to pull together. But if you like bananas and have them and dates on hand, you should totally make their recipe. :D
I didn’t have bananas on hand (and have to admit that I don’t like them much), but I did have applesauce. And we didn’t have dates, but did have raisins (golden, in this case, but any dried fruit would probably do fine). A quick entry of the ingredients on a nutrition calculator online showed that these only have 6g of sugar in them (per bar – 1/9 of the total recipe), which is not from added sugar, simply from the applesauce, raisins, and a little from the vanilla extract. Compared to the 12g, 20g, or even 30 grams in some other recipes, I’d say this is a win!
Without further ado, here’s my modified recipe.
Apple Oat Bars
Makes 9 squares ∙ Source: modified from a Banana Oat Bars version from Thekitchn.com
1 tbsp flaxseed meal (ground flax seed)
2.5 tbsp water
1 cup applesauce, unsweetened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon, plus more to top
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup golden raisins, soaked and chopped (forgot to soak – how is this?)
1/4 cup chopped nuts — such as walnuts, hazelnuts, or pecans
Grated nutmeg or cinnamon
Prep the flax egg by combining the freshly ground flaxseed with the water. Whisk or stir and set aside. Ensure it has had at least 5 minutes to thicken before adding in at the end.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9- x9-inch square baking dish with olive oil or spray.
In a medium mixing bowl, add the applesauce and vanilla and stir to combine. Add cinnamon and salt, and the flax egg (if it’s been long enough, otherwise wait and add in at the end).
Add the oats, dates, and nuts (and flax egg, if not yet included), and stir to combine.
Pat the thick mixture evenly into the baking pan. Sprinkle the top with nutmeg or cinnamon (but not too much).
Bake for 30 minutes or until edges are crisp.
Let cool. Store leftover bars at room temperature for about 5 days. (These should freeze pretty well, too, but haven’t tried this yet.)