Healthy Oat & Dried Fruit Breakfast Bars AND Whole Grain Oatmeal Cookies - Two Recipes

Healthy Oat & Dried Fruit Bars are perfect for having on hand as a quick first light breakfast which I like having prior to exercising, an in between meal snack, or an accompaniment to breakfast in lieu of bread or toast.  

I used this Quaker Breakfast Bar recipe as a base, then modified it quite a bit to suit my personal preferences, including subbing honey + a little black strap molasses for granulated sugar in the Quaker Oats Breakfast Bar recipe.  As long as you have a good balance of the dry versus liquid ingredients, you can pretty much experiment with your own combinations.  




In my next batch, I may either add in more nonfat dry milk powder, or a vanilla protein powder for more calcium and/or protein, or I may sub the nuts for  sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

Using sprouted whole grain flours improves digestibility and nutritional value.  I've put several at the bottom for you to see.  I like the King Arthur sprouted wheat flour.  The sprouted spelt flour is what I used for the Sprouted Spelt Lemon Blueberry Quick Bread, which is amazingly tender and super tasty!  Use the same measurements in both recipes as you would any other flour, or use a blend of whole grain and unbleached all purpose flours.


The main critique of the otherwise glowing reviews of the Quaker Oats recipe was that it didn't hold together well.  To counter that, I added one tablespoon of ground flax seeds mixed with two tablespoons of water to use as a binder in lieu of adding any eggs.  Flax is an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids, despite being a controversial ingredient in some dietary circles.  As I intended to bring these to church, I chose ground flax seeds instead of an egg because someone at the church is allergic to eggs.  You can choose either.

Fruit is an excellent source of potassium and many other nutrients, and a healthy, easy to assimilate source of low glycemic sugar which breaks down into varying combinations of fructose and glucose, depending on the fruit.  Don't be misled by those demonizing fruit because of its sugar content.  Fruit is straight from the Garden of Eden, our 'first fruits.'  Humans historically consumed much higher quantities of potassium and far less sodium.  In our opinion, potassium (and calcium) are very underrated.  

And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit.  You shall have them for food." ~Genesis 1:29 ESV

And God said, "Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat." ~Genesis 1:29 KJV

These Healthy Oat & Dried Fruit Breakfast Bars are made with extra virgin olive oil, honey plus a little black strap molasses, which contains iron and other minerals.  I also added wheat germ, which boosts the vitamin E content, and because I like its nutty flavor, especially when roasted.  Feel free to make modifications according to your preferences.  For example, you can use maple syrup instead of the honey and molasses, and you can eliminate the wheat germ if you don't have any on hand.  

If using a dry sugar, or 'diabetes friendly' alternative sweeteners like granulated stevia or Swerve, you may need to increase the milk by a tablespoon or so.  Or cut out the molasses, and add several drops of liquid stevia along with the honey.  The liquid stevia from Trader Joes and this NOW brand are both good value and taste. 

For those who are concerned about sugar consumption and blood sugar imbalances, you may want to read my article, It's Not the Sugar! ~ Diabetes is a Symptom, What is the Cause?

I also intended to add the 1/4 cup of  Manna Organics Dark Choco Roasted Pecan nut butter I happened to  have on hand, but forgot until the last minute.   I mean, come on, who wouldn't love a little dark chocolate pecan butter in their breakfast bar?  I didn't want to miss an opportunity to use some of it up!  Being the novice baker, I was crazy enough to spread a little of it on one half ~ after pressing the batter into the baking dish ~ just out of curiosity.  I figured I'd see if I like it better with the nut butter, and if just smearing it on top prior to baking it would actually work.  

In the end, these Healthy Oat & Dried Fruit Breakfast Bars were quite tasty, with or without that last minute smear of nut butter, which, by the way, did not make it into the final recipe.  Just thought I'd mention it in case you are inspired to add your own.  



You can see the darker half where I spread the Manna Organics 
Dark Cocoa & Roasted Pecan nut butter ~ after forgetting to add it 
to the recipe!


The final step I did, but you could skip, is that I left the batter to sit out on the counter overnight prior to baking.  The intent to let the grains 'pre-sprout' and soften the oats, making them easier to digest.  I can't say if it helped, having nothing to compare it to, but they definitely came out delicious and easy to eat!

Thankfully, making these bars requires less precision than most baked goods typically require.  The recipe is almost fool proof.  


Poached egg, fresh prune plums, Greek yogurt & half of a
Healthy Oat & Dried Fruit Breakfast Bar


Healthy Oat & Fruit Breakfast Bars

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup Old Fashioned Oats* or Quick Oats
1/2 cup flour: sprouted wheat, whole wheat, white whole wheat, or other flour of choice**
1/2-2/3 cup chopped dried fruit ~ I used a mix of mostly (darker colored) Turkish apricots with a few (brighter orange) regular apricots, raisins, and a few dried cranberries***
3 Tbsp. nonfat dry milk powder
2 Tbsp. raw (or toasted) wheat germ****
1&1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. ground flax seeds and 2 Tbsp. water, or 1 egg
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/4-1/2 cup shredded coconut, optional
2 tsp. vanilla extract*****
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (xvoo), or oil of choice, such as melted coconut oil, avocado oil, or high oleic sunflower oil 
1/4 cup honey + 1/8 cup back strap molasses, or use all honey, or sub real maple syrup
3 Tbsp. milk, possibly more

STEPS:  (See also notes & macros, below)


  • Combine oats and flour in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add chopped dried fruit, nonfat dry milk powder, cinnamon, and wheat germ, nuts & shredded coconut, if using, and stir to combine.
  • In a small bowl, combine flax seeds and water, and let sit a couple minutes, until it congeals.   Or, add an egg, and lightly beat with a fork.
  • Add vanilla, oil, honey and molasses, and milk, and stir to combine. 
  • Add to oat mixture, and stir just enough until all the oats are well moistened.  Add more milk ~ one tablespoon at a time ~ as needed if batter is too dry.
  • Either let sit on the counter over night, lightly covered with a sushi mat or towel, or bake right away.  If baking, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease an 8x8 baking dish.
  • Pour (more like scrape, as the batter is thick) into the prepared baking dish, and press down using the back of a spoon or rubber spatula.
  • Bake 20 minutes, and check for doneness.  It will start to turn brown, but should be firm but with a little spring when pressed.  Let bake longer if needed, otherwise remove from the oven but let it sit in the baking dish for at least 10-15 minutes before cutting.
  • Cut into 12 rectangular squares



NOTES:

*If using Old Fashioned Oats, you can beak them down slightly by doing a couple quick pulses in a food processor.  I often do that, but didn't for these bars as I didn't feel like taking the extra step this time around.

**If you want it to be all oat based, grind oats into flour to make 1/2 cup. Or sub whatever type of flour you want or have on hand.

***Raisins, dried cranberries, dried apricots, and dried plums are my top choices for dried fruit, but you could also try others, including dried apple, cherries, or other berries.

****Raw or toasted wheat germ can be used.  Omit if you don't have any.  You could also increase the ground flax seeds by 1 tablespoon, added to the bowl directly as opposed to combining with water first.

*****Sub almond or maple extract for the vanilla for a different flavor.

If you decide to add nut butter, add 1/4 cup in lieu of the chopped nuts.  The Quaker Breakfast Bar recipe actually uses 1/4 cup of each, but that will increase your total fat.  The nut butter should also help with binding, although you should have no issues with these Healthy Oat & Dried Fruit Breakfast Bars being too crumbly, providing you let them cool in the pan for at least 10-15 minutes before cutting.  

You may also like Healthy Oatmeal Cookies.  I get a lot of inspiration for healthy baked goods from Amy's Healthy Baking blog.

I actually baked both the Healthy Oat & Dried Fruit Breakfast Bars and the Healthy Whole Grain Oatmeal Cookies at the same time.  My mother-in-law did a lot of baking.  After both of Don's parents passed away, we cleaned out their home, and as such, we inherited some baking supplies, including a BIG bag of brown sugar and all purpose flour.  I have been using up the brown sugar and all purpose flour a little at a time, usually blending with other sweeteners.
  
I actually have no problem occasionally including brown sugar or a little all purpose flour in my diet anymore, as I no longer feel compelled to avoid all sugars nor all grains and grain products.  However, I mostly prefer using honey and maple syrup sometimes mixed with a little stevia.  That said, the cookies below were made with the brown sugar.  If using honey or syrup instead, taste test for sweetness.  You may want a bit more, or add the stevia in as indicated.  

Or if you have brown sugar to use up like I did, have at it.  I used 3/4 cup + a bit of stevia, and it was not too sweet.  This was a big batch of cookies.


MACROS:

Per 46g bar:
  • Total calories - 162
  • Total protein - 2.8g (6%)
  • Total carbs - 24.4g (63%)
  • Total fat - 5.6g (30%)
  • Contains ~250mg potassium, .9mg manganese, 40g magnesium, 1.2 mg iron, along with some zinc, Bi vitamins, 2.3g fiber, equal amounts of fructose and glucose (6g each), and .2g Omega 3 fatty acid

Healthy Whole Grain Oatmeal Cookies 




INGREDIENTS:


2&1/2 cups Old Fashioned or Quick Oats
1&3/4 cups sprouted wheat flour, whole wheat flour, white whole wheat flour, or unbleached all purpose flour ~ or a blend of any of 1 cup whole grain flour + 3/4 cup all purpose
2 tsp. non-aluminum baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1&1/2 tsp. cinnamon 
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. butter or coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled, or sub 1/4 cup nut butter
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup low-fat kefir or Greek yogurt
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup + several drops of liquid stevia or 1 packet of Trivia, or sub 3/4 cup brown sugar + the stevia (original recipe called for 1 cup brown sugar + 1/4 cup granulated sugar which I've reduced, but sweeten to your tastes)*
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup semi sweet/dark chocolate chips ~ or sub raisins, dried cranberries, or 1/4 cup of each
Handful extra chocolate chips, nuts, or raisins for garnish, optional

STEPS:

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, flour, baking powder and soda, and cinnamon using a fork.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the eggs.  Slowly add melted butter or oil, whisking it in as you pour.  If using nut butter instead, stir it in with the rest of the liquid ingredients, stirring well to combine.  Takes a bit more effort with the nut butter than when using the melted butter or oil.
  • Add apple sauce, kefir or yogurt, vanilla, and sweetener.
  • Combine with oats.
  • Fold in nuts and chips or dried fruit.
  • Chill batter for 30 minutes prior to baking.
  • Preheat oven to 350ยบ and line a baking pan with parchment paper, or very lightly coat a pan if needed.
  • Spoon onto baking pan, then press to flatten.  Optionally, add a few extra chips, raisins, or nuts to the top of each.  It gives a nice presentation and ensures getting some of the extra goodies in each bite!
  • Bake about 9-11 minutes, pulling out just prior to the centers being totally firm.
  • Let sit on the baking tray for 10 minutes to finish baking and setting.


MACROS:

I'm not 100% positive I entered the precise number of cookies made, as some of them were also pressed into a pan to make them into bars.  But this is a close estimate of the macros:

Per 23g cookie:

  • Total cals - 79
  • Total protein - 1.6g (7%)
  • Total carb - 12.3g (65%)
  • Total fat - 2.5g (27%)


RESOURCES:  

I include these links to show which are my favorite ingredients, and because they can be somewhat more challenging to find, however, any purchases made through the links provides a nominal commission at no extra charge to you, which  is greatly appreciated. Just be sure to check the quantity being purchased.  Some of the flours are sold in twos or more!


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