Thursday, March 17, 2011

Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

I am finally getting around to posting this recipe!  You'd think I could just sit down and type it up - yet there are so many reasons why that just doesn't happen.  So here we go....

We usually have green smoothies over here for breakfast - probably 90-95% of the time.  We love the really nutritious boost it gives our day and the fact that we've already consumed a large number of servings of fresh fruit and veggies before 9am even rolls around.  I could go on and on about smoothies, but that is a separate post, which is (hopefully) coming soon as well.  So what do we do on those 5-10% mornings?  We do one of two things: either fresh oatmeal (and I'll share how we make that healthy and tasty later) or Oatmeal Breakfast Bars.  Lately the Breakfast Bars have been happening more because when we're rushed, we're really rushed and a bar is SO much quicker than even 5 minutes of oatmeal. We love these because it's one of the few "bread/cake" products we keep in the house (and one of the few I eat period), it's nice and filling and it tastes great!  Not to mention that these bars, while not as nutrient dense and healthy as smoothies, are so much better than a lot of other breakfasts out there.  Seriously these bars have oats, spices, dried fruit, nuts and some apple juice/sauce.  Not a list of offending ingredients there.

I got the recipe from my sister Carrie, who got the original recipe here.  She made changes to the recipe and I made changes (of course!)  So you can see what the original one was like, and see what I did to change it. (Usually my alterations will come in the form of making something as healthy as I can get it without compromising taste in my opinion.)

(The picture does not do it justice, by the way.  They are much tastier than they look.)

Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

2c oatmeal
1c oat flour (just ground up oats in the blender or food processor)
1c chopped dried apples or other dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, blueberries, etc)
1c apple juice/orange juice
8-9 dates, chopped small
1/2c unsweetened apple sauce (in place of oil)
1-2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp baking soda
1c raw nuts, chopped (walnut, pecan, almond, cashew)

Combine all ingredients in bowl and  mix well.  Mixture should form a ball in your hands without excess liquid dripping off.  Use oat flour and apple sauce to adjust consistency if needed.  Spread mixture evenly in greased 9x13 pan, and bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.  Bars will be dark on top, but shouldn't be dry or burnt.  They should have a dense cake-like consistency, kind of like banana bread I guess.  (But the bars will have lots more little pieces of dried fruit and nut scattered everywhere.)  Cut into 8 large squares and eat for breakfast, or freeze for later use.

Notes: The chopped dates are in place of the original sugar.  You could just lessen the original amount of sugar in your recipe, but why not cut it out altogether?!  Dates are delicious and much better for you than processed sugar.  I chop them up nice and small and then usually toss in some extra dried fruit (raisins are sweet and cheap) to help make up for the fact that I cut out the original sugar.  Keep in mind these won't taste like sugary pop tarts or sweet rolls, but have a nice subtle sweetness to them. Also I increased the nut amount because nuts are a great sources of good fats, protein and help give the bars satiety value (or staying power).  If you are concerned about the fat in nuts, 1 cup in 8 bars really only gives you 1/8th of a cup of nuts per bar anyways, if you are trying to watch your weight.  If you aren't trying to watch your weight or need to gain weight, add some more nuts!  Or better yet eat them raw as a snack.  Raw nuts are one of the healthiest ways to consume fats.

Generally I make the bars ahead of time, freeze them, and then we pull one out of the freezer, wrap it in a dish towel and thaw it quickly in the microwave.  It's a super fast breakfast when you just can't quite find the time to make your green smoothie.  Oats are a great source of fiber, iron, thiamin, phosphorus, manganese, selenium and believe it or not - protein!  1/2 cup uncooked oats has 6g of protein.  And they say getting protein is hard as a vegan.  Most people would not even think about considering oats as a source of protein.

So there's our super quick and easy breakfast!  Let me know what you think and if you make any alterations of your own to it!

What are your quick, easy and healthy breakfast options?

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