Blueberry + Blackberry Oat Bars
We have recently been making a big effort to cut down on single use waste and plastic products in our house. The kind that don’t get recycled but we seem to use every single day. After taking careful stock of our lifestyle, it was clear to me that “snacks” were our biggest offenders.
If you are like me, you probably hear the word snack 30+ times a day. It starts early here. Maybe a few minutes after breakfast and I hear “mom, can I have a snack?”. Of course, they don’t mean carrot sticks or cucumber rounds, what they mean is packaged sugar. Granola bars, crackers in mini packs, raisins in their own box, heck even nice’cream sandwiches. The excessive packaging on these items is crazy and almost none of it is recyclable, not to mention the snacks really are not the healthiest things to be eating at 8.15am.
While we have been making good stride towards healthy waste free snacks lately, granola bars remain a big bone of contention here. So far nothing I have made has held up to Ava’s beloved “fig bars”, until now.
I remember making the Strawberry Oat Crumble Bars from the Oh She Glows Every Day cookbook a few years back and loving them. So since I had a few flats of strawberries in the fridge I decided to give them another shot.
They came together really well, and I certainly loved them, but Ava declared they tasted too much like sunflower seeds and weren’t ‘gooey’ enough. Ok, fair enough, back to the drawing board.
All I had left in the fridge were blueberries and blackberries, so I decided I would give them a go. They turned out even better than I expected, especially after they are chilled and sliced.
BLUEBERRY + BLACKBERRY OAT BARS
Prep:2 hrs for the Berry Filling, and 15 minutes for the bars, Bake:28 minutes, Cool Time: 90 minutes. Baking Temp: 350’
Supplies: 9x9” baking tin, parchment paper
For the base:
1 3/4c Large flake oats
½ c Raw hulled sunflower seeds (toasted if desired)
Pinch of salt
1/2c Coconut oil
1/4c Maple syrup
1 tbsp Local honey
1tsp. Vanilla extract
For the berry filling:
2.5-3c fresh blueberries + blackberries (but you can really use any berries you have available)
1 tbsp water
1/4c Local honey OR 2 tbsp Coconut sugar
For the crumble topping.
3/4c Large flake oats
1/4c. All purpose GF flour (or your flour of choice)
1/4c Coconut sugar
1/4c + 1tsp Coconut oil, melted
Pinch of salt
For the berry filling: Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan, and heat on medium until the berries soften and start to break down. (I am a little impatient, so once they were warm enough I used a potato masher to help things along.) Once the berries start looking like chunky jam, turn down to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
Transfer the berry filling to a non-breakable glass jar and toss it in the fridge to cool for 1- 1 ½ hours. It will help the filling set and thicken up a bit.
Meanwhile, grab your 9x9” baking pan and line it generously with parchment paper. This will prevent the bars from sticking to the pan, and make it much easier to lift out. (Note: since we are also talking about making low waste choices, I will share that I use The Paper Chef Parchment Paper as it is both biodegradable and home compostable.)
Set oven to 350’ to preheat.
For the base: Mix the oats and the sunflower seeds together and process down into a coarse flour. You can use a food processor if you have one, I actually used our little Nutri Bullet blender and it worked just fine too. Stir in salt and set aside.
Combine coconut oil, maple syrup, honey and vanilla in a small pot on the stove and heat low , stirring to combine. (only a few minutes. You don’t want the mixture to boil, only to melt, combine, and enhance the flavor).
Remove the pot from heat, and add in the dry mixture, stirring quickly to combine. Once mixed the dough should appear wet and oily.
Transfer the mixture to the parchment lined pan and press down to flatten and cover the whole bottom surface. I used a spatula, but you can also use a bar roller. It will seem like the layer is very thin, but it will puff a bit when cooked.
Place the pan in the oven to cook for 8-10 minutes. While it cooks, make the crumble.
For the crumble: Pulse the oats quickly in a food processor (or blender as mentioned above) so they are a rough choppy consistency. Transfer them to a bowl and lightly mix in the flour.
In a separate small bowl combine the coconut oil and coconut sugar and warm in microwave for 30 seconds to help break down the sugar. Stir with a fork and then add the liquid mixture to the dry bowl. At this point I like to mix with my hands so I can keep the batter clumpy and not over smooth.
After the base layer has cooked, remove the pan from the oven, leaving the oven on. If the base layer has puffed up unevenly just use your spatula and gently push it back down so its flat.
Take your berry filling from fridge and give it a few stirs, then transfer the entire mixture (about 2c.) to the pan, lightly spreading over the base layer so it covers evenly.
Layer your crumble mixture on top using your hands to sprinkle evenly across the entire surface.
Place the pan back in the oven to bake for 16-18 minutes.
Once baked, let the pan cool on a cooling rack on the counter for 15-30 minutes, then put the entire pan in the fridge to cool and set for an additional 45-60 minutes.
Once the bars have fully cooled, remove the pan from the fridge. Lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper, and set on a cutting board to slice. Now you are ready to serve and enjoy. (Note: Keep the sliced bars refrigerated in between snacking. 😊 )