Looking for a Valentine's Day dessert that is delectable, but also has nutritional value? Then this bar is for you. It can be dressed up for an elegant brunch or just packed up for a brown bag lunch.
My recipe is adapted from one in The Earth-Bound Cookbook. My changes make the bars a healthier treat: I cut the sugar significantly, replaced nearly half of the flour with almond meal (cutting carbs and boosting protein), and added some fruit and nuts.
I also used a combination of butter and coconut oil, but this recipe is easily adapted. If you're a vegan, just use 12T of the coconut oil; if you don't have access to a health food store (where you can buy the oil) just use 1 and 1/2 sticks of butter. I also use organic ingredients, which is preferable but not a dealbreaker.
- 1 stick butter + 4T extra virgin coconut oil, cut into small pieces
- 2c old-fashioned rolled oats
- 3/4c whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2c almond meal (aka almond flour)
- 1/3c packed light brown sugar
- 1c 100% raspberry fruit spread
- 1/2c frozen raspberries
- 1t vanilla extract
- 1/2c chopped walnuts or pecans
- 3T flaxseed meal*
- 2T brewer's yeast*
*These are optional, but are recommended as they add some omega-3 fats, protein, fiber and B vitamins. Flax, brewer's yeast and oats support a healthy milk supply, so these bars are an especially great treat for breastfeeding moms.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8"-square baking pan (or use a silicone pan, as I did, and skip this step).
Put the jam, vanilla and fruit into a small saucepan. Simmer on low for about 7-10 minutes, stirring a couple of times until the fruit has broken down and is well combined with the jam. Remove from the heat and let cool until the mixture thickens.
Place the dry ingredients (except the walnuts) in a large bowl and stir to mix. Add the butter and coconut oil; use your fingers to blend until the mixture is crumbly and fully combined. Place half of the mixture into the baking pan and press it down in an even layer. Pour the fruit on top.
Add the walnuts to the rest of the oat mixture and spread around the pan, pressing to form an even layer. Bake until the edges are lightly browned, about 40 minutes.
Cool on a rack for at least 4 hours before attempting to cut into bars and remove from pan; they will fall apart otherwise. Even better, let them chill overnight in the fridge. Slice into 18 bars and enjoy!
These bars are delectable and rich, so savor them...and watch your portions!