Healthy Strawberry Oat Squares
This week I’m taking advantage of the abundance of fresh strawberries on sale at my local market. I made a couple new recipes for my cookbook (a cake! a pie!) and finished off my strawberry supply with a batch of these healthy treats.
Strawberries are a nutritional power house and one of my favorite fruits to bake with. Juicy strawberries go with everything from chocolate to banana to homemade whipped cream. I love them with Greek yogurt, I love them in smoothies, or alongside these sugar free chocolate bars.
My latest strawberry obsession are these healthy oat-y almond squares. They’re gluten-free, have only 1 Tablespoon of refined sugar, no butter, no oil, and are laughably easy to throw together. They’re like a Strawberry Nutrigrain Bar – but better. Thicker oat-y base, thicker strawberry filling, and lots of texture on top.
The strawberry filling inside? 2 cups of diced strawberries boiled down with maple syrup, cornstarch, and 1 Tablespoon of sugar. It’s like a very thick homemade strawberry jam.
The oatmeal base of these bars is practically the same recipe I use for my Breakfast Cookies. Quick oats (not whole oats), almond butter, maple syrup, apple butter, and cinnamon. nstead of a mashed banana, I used an egg to bind it at all together. Using a banana may make the bars overly crumbly. However, if you follow a vegan diet, you may try using the mashed banana or even a flax egg to replace the egg.
It’s important to use quick oats in this recipe. Quick oats are more finely ground up old fashioned rolled oats (aka whole oats). Quick oats have been pressed slightly thinner than rolled oats and therefore have a more powdery texture. You may not even notice a different or realize there are two kinds of oats in those tall canisters at the store! But you need quick oats in this recipe because their fine texture will hold together the best.
The oatmeal base is all made in one bowl. How’s that for easy clean-up? You’re literally going to dump it all into 1 large bowl and mix it around by hand until the oats are moistened and everything is combined. To make the topping, you’re simply going to take 1/2 cup of the base that you’ve just thrown together and mix it with 1/2 cup of sliced almonds. Crumble that on top of your homemade strawberry filling.
Without the addition of almonds, you won’t have enough topping to cover the strawberry filling. So don’t leave those almonds out! Peanuts, pecans, or walnuts may be used to replace the sliced almonds.
The bars take about 25-30 minutes in the oven. The hardest part is waiting for them to cool before digging in! I threw the pan in the refrigerator for quick cooling. I have zero patience – especially when eating strawberry bars is the end result.
There is an abundance of juicy strawberry filling in each bite. I hate biting into fruit-filled bars only to find that there is hardly any fruit hiding inside. Since I made these on Monday, I’m happy to report that there are none left. The batch only makes about 9-12 bars, depending how large you cut them. We dug right in and there was no turning back! They’re a healthified version of any fruit/streusel bar, and I couldn’t resist their almond-y, oat-y, strawberry-to-the-max flavor.
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Healthy Strawberry Oat Squares
These healthy snack bars are so easy to make! Only 1 Tablespoon of refined sugar, gluten-free, no butter, no oil, and made with 100% good for you ingredients. Gluten Free if using certified GF oats.
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 Tablespoons warm water
- 2 cups finely diced strawberries
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
Oatmeal Base + Topping
- 2 and 1/4 cup quick oats (not whole rolled oats)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup unsalted almond butter (or peanut butter or sunflower seed butter)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup apple butter*
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- Make the strawberry filling first by mixing the cornstarch with the warm water until it all of the cornstarch has dissolved and there are no more clumps. It should resemble milk. Set aside. Combine the strawberries, maple syrup, and sugar together in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir well. Remove from heat and stir in the pre-mixed cornstarch. Whisk until all clumps are gone and set aside to thicken and cool.
- Preheat oven to 325F degrees. Line an 8x8 baking pan with aluminum foil with enough overhang on the sides for easy removal. Set aside.
- Make the oat crust/topping: In a large bowl, combine the quick oats, cinnamon, almond butter, maple syrup, apple butter, and beaten egg. Mix until all of the oats are moistened and the mixture is thoroughly combined. Reserve 1/2 cup of the oat mixture. Press the remaining oat mixture into prepared baking pan. Make sure it is firmly pressed down and even. Spread the strawberry filling on top. To the reserved 1/2 cup oat mixture, add the sliced almonds. Crumble this over the strawberry filling and, using the back of a spatula, press the topping down firmly into the strawberry filling. You want to make sure it sticks well.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes. The topping will be lightly browned. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares.
- Makes 9-12 squares, depending how large you cut them. Squares stay fresh covered tightly at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Bars freeze well, up to 2 months.
*You may use pumpkin butter, mango butter, or any other fruit butter to replace the apple butter. The bars won't be as moist if using applesauce instead of apple butter.
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Today’s oatmeal base and topping is practically the same recipe I use for my Breakfast Cookies.
Healthy cookies for breakfast!
If you like berry bars, give my Apple Blueberry Pie Bars a try.
Q: What are your favorite recipes using strawberries?