Sunday, October 6, 2013

Applesauce Flax Oat Bars with Fruits and Seeds

When it comes to breakfast on-the-go, these bars are the ultimate in portable oatmeal. I was personally sold on this recipe from the first ingredient on the list, healthy and flavorful coconut oil. I first bought coconut oil specifically to make Oatcakes, one of my all-time favorite snacks, but because I don't have familiarity with is as I do other oils, it hasn't gotten nearly the use it should. The rest of ingredients on the list - from the peanut butter, now shown to reduce the risk of breast disease, to the nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and spices - are no slouch either. Raisins, cranberries, pepitas, and sunflower seeds are ingredients that I always have in the pantry, but dried blueberries, cherries, or apricots or any kind of kind of nuts, preferably toasted, would make great substitutions. The applesauce keeps these bars moist and adds a subtle sweetness, but my next experiment with this recipe is sure to be using pumpkin puree instead of part or all of the applesauce. Individual bars freeze well, especially if you bake them in an individual brownie pan, which gives you more brown and crispy edges and makes them more structurally sound. With all the goodness of a loaded bowl of oatmeal, these bars pack flavor and nutrition into a form that's easy to eat anytime, anywhere.

Applesauce Flax Oat Bars with Fruits and Seeds
adapted from The Kitchn
makes 12 bars

1/4 cup melted coconut oil
3 tablespoons smooth peanut or almond butter
3 tablespoons honey, maple syrup, or brown rice syrup
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1 1/4 cups apple sauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups rolled oats (use certified gluten-free oats if necessary)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/ 2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line an 8"x8" baking pan with parchment paper.

2. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the melted coconut oil, peanut butter, and brown rice syrup and stir until melted. Remove from heat. Add the ground flax seeds, apple sauce, and vanilla, and whisk to combine.

3. In a large bowl, combine the oats with the dried fruit, seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.

4. Transfer the mixture to the baking pan, pressing with your hands to create an even surface.

5. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Lift out and cut into 12 pieces.

6. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Wrap individual bars tightly for transporting.

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