Cherry Oat Bars (GF)
It’s a rare day that we have packaged cookies in our home, unless of course, it’s Girl Scout Cookie time and my husband runs into those green clad cookie fairies, and then we’ll have (no joke) 10 boxes in our home. But, because the aforementioned husband easily consumes a box a day, they don’t stick around long.
During the holidays, we have many dozens of cookies in tins and containers throughout the kitchen. After Valentine’s Day, we have boxes and bags of chocolates to consume. But on a normal, run of the mill day, our home is typically sweet treat deficient and the reason is simple; if we don’t have cookies in the home, I can’t eat them. My self-restraint is probably relatively average, but it declines precipitously when there are homemade cookies, pies or bars within reach. There could be a bowl of M&Ms on the counter and I could walk by them everyday and not have a single one. We have a half-gallon of ice cream in the freezer and I’m not the least bit tempted. And truthfully, there was no part of me that was even tempted to indulge when we were flush with Girl Scout Cookies last month (sorry gals). But if there is a homemade chocolate chip or oatmeal cookie in my home, I’m done for.
I wanted a little treat that would satisfy my sweet tooth, but still be somewhat healthy. Enter these Cherry Oat Bars. I’ve been playing around with this recipe for a while. My first attempts were tasty,but yielded a crust that immediately crumbled. They were absolutely fine for eating on a plate with a fork, but I wanted something that I could hold with my fingers. That not an easy thing to do if you are trying to avoid gluten. For all the eh-things about flour, it does create a great crust when mixed with a few other ingredients. These bars have a little bit of sugar and a little bit of palm shortening in the crust, which I feel help create the sturdier crust. Chia seeds help thicken the filling without having to use much sugar.
While these cherry oat bars do have a sturdier crust, but they will soften at room temperature over a couple of days. If they disappear in your home as quickly as they do in mine, that won’t be a problem, but I do keep mine refrigerated.
- 2 cups frozen, pitted cherries (or any other berry)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 3 TBS chia seeds
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup oatmeal, gluten-free if so desired (I use Bob's Red Mill Oats)
- 1 cup almond meal
- 1/4 cup sugar (I used palm sugar, but could use white sugar. Brown sugar or a liquid sweetener makes the crust soft)
- 4 TB almond butter
- 1 flax egg (2 TBS water and 1 TBS ground flax, mixed and set aside for 5 minutes)
- 2 TB refrigerated palm shortening (I found coconut oil made the crust soft, but could probably use butter)
- 2 TB Tapioca Flour (I used (I use Bob's Red Mill Oats)
- Combine cherries and maple syrup in small pan and heat on medium heat until bubbly.
- Lower your heat and let simmer for 5 minutes
- Add your chia seeds and continue to simmer for 5 more minutes
- Remove from the heat and add vanilla.
- Let cool at room temperature and then refrigerate.
- You can do this part in the evening and let it sit in your fridge overnight. The cooler the better. Typically, I start my cherries in the morning and end up finishing the recipe 4-5 hours later.
- Preheat oven to 350'
- Place the oatmeal in your food processor and pulse until the flakes are about a quarter of the size they were originally
- Add remaining ingredients, except palm shortening, and pulse again until combined.
- Add palm shortening and pulse until just combined. You may have some little bits of the shortening still showing, but you don't want to overmix.
- Press your crust into a parchment paper lined, 8X8 baking dish. Really press it down and make sure it gets into all the corners.
- Bake for 20 minutes
- Remove and let cool completely before topping with cherries/ berries
- Combine all ingredients in your food processor
- Press into cherry mix
- Once assembled, put back into oven at 350' for 20 minutes.
- Let cool completely before slicing.
- Other berries, especially raspberries, are higher in pectin than cherries and so will most likely need a little less chia. Not sure it'd make a big difference, but just something to know. You can play around with the amount of chia you use to get the desired thickness.
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