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Sheila’s Quick & Easy Oatmeal Bars

Oats (with Path)Oats are a staple of my diet – featured in my morning oatmeal or muesli, and often incorporated into bars or desserts.  Not only are oats inexpensive and versatile, but they offer a host of health benefits. Research shows that oat fiber (beta-glucan) can help lower cholesterol, and antioxidant compounds in oats can help decrease chronic inflammation.  For athletes, oats are a terrific source of carbohydrates to help fuel muscles.  Also,  according to this study, oats might help enhance nitric oxide production, which is important for heart health and might benefit athletic performance. I prefer large flake rolled oats for most uses (or steel-cut oats for oatmeal), but most varieties have similar nutritional profiles.

You want to limit packaged instant oats, however, since they are heavily processed with lots of sugar, which gives them a higher glycemic index (they can raise blood sugar quickly, depending on what you eat them with), not to mention the expense and needless packaging. Cooking rolled oats in the microwave takes just a minute!

This recipe is quite versatile, so create your own variation by modifying the dried fruit and nuts/seeds to suit your taste. These bars feature whole grains (oats and 100% whole wheat flour), are relatively low in fat, with most of the fat coming from healthful sources (nuts and seeds) that provide other important nutrients.  

Ingredients

  • 1 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4  tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil (or melted butter or trans-free margarine)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • *1 cup dried fruit (your favourites –  I like a  mixture of chopped dates, raisins, and/or dried cherries or cranberries)
  • *1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional, but I always include!)
  • *1/4 cup chopped nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts)
  • *1/4 cup seeds (e.g., sunflower, pepitas [pumpkin seeds])

* vary the quantity of dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and chocolate to suit your taste

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 deg F.
  2. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; mix well with fork or whisk.
  3. In large bowl, combine sugar, oil, and eggs. Mix well. Stir in oats, dried fruit, chocolate chips (if using), nuts and seeds. Stir in flour mixture.
  4. Spread dough onto bottom of 13×9-inch baking pan coated with butter/margarine (spreading dough with wet hands is the easiest method). You can also bake these on cookie sheets (just form into 20-30 cookie shapes).
  5. Bake or until light golden brown, about  20-25 minutes (for bars) or about 12-15 minutes (for cookies). Cool completely on wire rack. Cut into bars. Store tightly covered or freeze.
Makes about 24 bars/cookies

Nutrition per cookie/bar:

  • 165 calories
  • 26 grams carbohydrates
  • 4 grams protein
  • 6 grams fat
  • 3 grams fiber
  • 182 mg potassium
  • 77 mg sodium
  • 30 mg calcium

**Jan 2015. The first version of this recipe called for 1.5 cups whole wheat flour – I’ve been testing, and  found that less flour (1 cup), as listed now, delivers a chewier bar. 

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