Chewy Peanut Butter Oat Bars

Looking for a sweet and chewy, snack bar that is filling, substantial, and keeps for a long time? I have just the recipe for you! Personally, I love having healthier snacks on hand that I can grab in the morning to keep with me while I'm at the hospital in case I get hungry throughout the day. These bars fit the bill. What's also great about them is the ingredient list is short and simple. There are so many energy and health bar recipes out there with five million ingredients in them, half of which I don't have. For this recipe all you need is dried fruit (dates or prunes), a nut butter and oats. A pinch of salt and some water round them out nicely. So easy to throw together and so tasty to eat!

You will need a fairly powerful food processor to blend all of the ingredients together until they form a nice sticky paste. Then into a pan and finally into the oven to set up just a bit. I cut my bars into small bites that were the perfect snack to nibble on in the middle of the afternoon when dinner still seemed very far away. I kept them in the fridge, but I would think they would last out on the counter for quite a while as well, none of the ingredients in it are very perishable. And if you're feeling indulgent, I think a drizzle of chocolate overtop would be the perfect way to really make this recipe extra special. 

Chewy Peanut Butter Oat Bars
Adapted from Sugarcrafter
Ingredients

  • 2 cups (12 ounces) prunes (or a combo of prunes and dates)
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup (128 ounces) peanut butter
  • 2 cups (160 grams) old fashioned oats
  • pinch salt

Directions
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a 9 by 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper, and set aside. In a large food processor, pulse the prunes until roughly chopped. Add the water and peanut butter, and blend until well pureed. The mixture will be very sticky. Add the oats to the food processor, and pulse until well combined with the prune and date mixture. 

Spread the mixture in an even layer in the prepared baking pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into bars. 

Calorie count: cut into 25 bars, 90 calories per bar

Oat Bread with Dried Fruit and Almonds

Baking bread is one of my favorite things to do in the kitchen. I just love the whole process, kneading together a handful of individual ingredients and turning them into this live creature that rises and grows before your eyes. Tame it through shaping into loaves, and then into the oven for its final transformation where it becomes your desired creation. It is one of the most satisfying tasks in the kitchen.  Pulling out those final loaves, and seeing what you've been able to do with a few simple ingredients, some time and heat is simply amazing. 

These loaves are my most recent creation. I found the recipe online and for whatever reason it sounded so perfectly delicious that I had to give it a try. This whole wheat and oat sandwich loaf, slightly sweetened with honey and filled with roasted nuts and dried fruit called my name, I simply had to try it. It turned out a couple very large and beautiful loaves that have been perfect for a variety of sandwiches, a hearty snack and a healthy breakfast. 

One of my favorite quick and easy lunches in the past week has been a gourmet peanut butter sandwich with mashed banana and sliced strawberries. Add a drizzle of honey for a little extra sweetness and lunch is served, simple and delicious. It almost feels like eating dessert for lunch. I've also made a variety of other different sandwiches including an heirloom tomato BLT and a grilled vegetable and hummus sandwich with feta. So whatever type of sandwich is calling your name, this bread will get the job done. 

Oat Bread with Dried Fruit and Almonds

Adapted from 

A Shaggy Dough Story

Ingredients

  • 200g Dried Fruit (I used a mix of prunes and frozen cranberries instead of dried, just because I had them, and it turned out fine)
  • 161g Whole Wheat Flour
  • 130g Rolled Oats
  • 403g Water (I used the reserved water from soaking the fruit and made up the difference with fresh water)
  • 484g Bread Flour
  • 136g Milk
  • 48g Honey
  • 48g Vegetable Oil 
  • 19g Salt
  • 4g Instant Yeast 
  • 130g Toasted Almonds (or whatever you have, walnuts, pecans, etc)
  • Additional Rolled Oats for coating loaves

Directions

Put dried fruit in a heat-proof bowl, add enough boiling water to cover and let sit for about an hour. Drain, reserving water, and let cool.

Put whole wheat flour and rolled oats in the bowl of a mixer, add the reserved soaking liquid (adding fresh water to make up the difference) and stir to combine. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Add bread flour, milk, honey, oil, salt and yeast to the oat mixture. Using the dough hook of your mixer, blend on low speed until combined, then increase the speed to medium for about 7 minutes. Add the soaked, drained fruit and the pecans and mix on low speed until combined (it took a little bit of time to make sure they were fully incorporated).

Place the dough in a large bowl or container with oil that's been lightly coated with oil. Cover and let rest. After one hour, uncover the dough and fold, then cover and let rest for another hour.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two rounds. Cover with plastic and let rest for 15 minutes. Lightly butter or oil two 9-inch loaf pans. Uncover and lightly flour your work surface, if needed. Degas each dough round and shape into a loaf. Place loaves seam side down in the prepared pans. Lightly mist each loaf with water and them cover with oats, if desired. Cover with plastic and proof for about 90 minutes.

Place a steam pan in the bottom of your oven and preheat to 450°. At baking time, uncover the loaf pans, place in the oven and immediately add about 1 cup of ice to the pan to create steam. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 400° and bake for another 30 minutes or until golden brown (cover them with foil if they start browning too soon). Remove from the oven, transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.