Berries And Cream Oatmeal Bars
If you’ve been reading along as I’ve been sharing recipes here at Alpha Mom, you’ve likely begun to notice that I use a lot of the same ingredients over and over again. It’s not your imagination; I do use coconut oil and chia and various protein powders in a variety of concoctions. I know what tastes good (and—perhaps more important—what my kids will accept as tasty) and where I can hide protein, and I have no problem using my standard additions over and over.
The good news is that if you liked my banana-oatmeal breakfast cookie recipe, you’ll probably like this one, too. And the better news is that even if you didn’t care for that one, you might like this one, instead (even though it uses a lot of the same ingredients).
What I wanted, here, was a chewy granola bar that’s packed with protein. I looked at this recipe from Honest Cooking and felt like it was close, but not quite right. And I knew that my favorite granola recipe (from Michael Ruhlman; make this one if you haven’t, because it’s delicious) could be tweaked with some added protein. Surely between these two concoctions, a moist, fruity bar could be born that tasted like a cookie instead of something good for you. It took some experimentation, but I think we have a winner—these babies straddle the line between granola bar and bar cookie, and are packed with enough protein to make them a guilt-free treat.
Ingredients for Berries & Cream Oatmeal Bars
2.5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup almond meal
3/4 cup sunflower seeds (I used roasted/salted ones)
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup sweetened coconut shreds
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries, sliced
1 TBL vanilla extract
1/2 cup whey protein powder (I used white chocolate flavor)
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
Recipe Directions for Berries & Cream Oatmeal Bars
Preheat your oven to 350. Line a 9×12″ baking pan with parchment paper, then oil the parchment.
In a large bowl, mix together the first seven ingredients (everything from the oats to the dried cherries), making sure everything is distributed evenly. Set this bowl aside.
In your blender, combine the remaining ingredients (from the strawberries to the brown sugar) and mix until it looks like you just made a fruit smoothie (you kind of did). Add this wet mixture to the dry ingredients in your bowl and stir well to completely incorporate.
Scoop the mixture into your pan, then use a spatula to press it down as much as possible. Fill out the corners, smooth the top, and press, press, press! Once it’s ready, bake for 30-35 minutes. You want the edges to be browned and the center to no longer look wet.
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then use the parchment paper to lift out the slab of bars so that you can continue cooling on a wire rack. I found out the hard way that they’ll be much easier to cut if you let them cool completely (even better if you refrigerate for a bit), though if you make a mess cutting them while still warm, well, then you have to eat the pieces that fall off. And hey, that’s yummy.
The number of bars you get from this recipe depends on how big you cut them, but I made 24 hearty squares from my pan.
Variations and Notes
I liked this combination a lot (the sweet of the strawberry and creaminess of the protein powder with the tart cherries), and I happened to have the ingredients on hand, so it was perfect for me. But this recipe can be used as a template; use bananas or pumpkin for the fruit in the blender, if you prefer. If you don’t have or don’t like dried cherries, use raisins, or dates, or chocolate chips. It’s easy to customize. Similarly, I had the white chocolate whey powder on hand, but let’s be honest, that one pretty much tastes like vanilla, and chocolate would probably be even better. If you don’t like almonds, use something else.
Do note that if you don’t use something already salted (I used salted sunflower seeds, because that’s what I had on hand), you may want to add a half-teaspoon of salt to your mixture.
Also note that this recipe is gluten-free if you use gluten-free oats and don’t have an issue with them (some gluten-avoiders cannot tolerate oats). If being gluten-free isn’t a concern of yours and you’re looking for an alternative to the almond meal, you could use wheat germ.
I store these in the fridge if they stick around for more than a couple of days. They also freeze well, so I often put half the batch in the freezer straightaway, then break them out sometime when I don’t have the time or inclination to bake. I offer them to the kids in their lunches or for a snack, but it’s possible I have one with my coffee for breakfast when no one’s looking. I can neither confirm nor deny that rumor. Just, uh, go ahead and make them. You’ll see.