I started off my year by doing the Bon Appétit Food Lover’s Cleanse – a two week menu that highlighted whole foods and shirked things like refined sugars, flours, and most dairy. Not only was it delicious but it was eye opening and while I don’t think I’ll be giving up pasta or pizza anytime soon, I do think I’ll be looking for ways to get creative with more whole foods, including grains. That’s one department where I thought I was doing ok – hey, I cooked quinoa way before quinoa was cool – but during the cleanse I cooked with faro, forbidden rice and pearl barley and spent more time in the bulk aisle pondering all the other options available.
While this recipe doesn’t contain anything that qualifies as exotic, it does present a new way of thinking of oatmeal besides the typical blob in a bowl. Plus it’s portable! As my husband will attest, if I get too hungry I definitely get the “hangries” so having a healthy snack in my purse at all times is in the best interest of everyone.
The January issue of Bon Appétit, where this recipe for Nutty Grain and Oat Bars came from, has the words “The New Healthy” written in a large script across the cover. Great tasting food that is healthy too? I like the sounds of that.
Nutty Grain and Oat Bars
Adapted from recipe in Bon Appétit
About 16 servings
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
6 large Medjool dates, pitted, chopped
1 cup pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp unsalted butter or virgin coconut oil
2 cups old-fashioned oats
½ cup raw almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, or cashews
½ cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
½ cup shelled sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp flax seed
½ tsp kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat an 8½x4” loaf pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on long sides; spray parchment.
Bring dates and maple syrup to a boil in a small saucepan, reduce heat to medium-high, and boil, stirring often, until dates are very soft and maple syrup is slightly reduced, 8–10 minutes. Remove date mixture from heat and stir in butter until it is melted. Mash dates with a potato masher or fork until as smooth as possible. (If you have an immersion blender, it will work, too.) You should have about 1 cup.
Toss oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seed, and salt in a large bowl. Mix in date mixture until evenly coated. Scrape half of oat mixture into prepared pan and press very firmly (I can’t even stress this enough… it has to be as compact as possible to hold together when you cut it later!) and evenly with a rubber spatula to compress it as much as possible. Add remaining oat mixture and press until very tightly packed into pan.
Bake, tenting with foil if browning too quickly, until loaf is darkened in color and firm around the edges, and center gives just slightly when pressed, 45–50 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let loaf cool in pan before turning out (it can even sit overnight). Cut into ½”-thick slices with a serrated knife.
For crisp bars, lay slices on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F until golden brown, 8–10 minutes, or toast as desired in a toaster oven.
Besides just eating yummy slices of it, I crumbled it over the top of yogurt with peaches for a easy, tasty breakfast.
Fat (g) 9
Saturated Fat (g) 2.5
Cholesterol (mg) 0
Carbohydrates (g) 26
Dietary Fiber (g) 2
Total Sugars (g) 15
Protein (g) 5
Sodium (mg) 85