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 also love them with Greek yogurt, and I love them in smoothies.
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. Instead 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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More strawberry sweets you’ll love!
- Strawberry shortcake
- Lemon strawberry crumb bars
- 5 ingredient strawberry cheesecake truffles
- Strawberry vanilla crisp
- Strawberry rhubarb pie
- Strawberry rolls with sweet lemon glaze
- Strawberry coconut macaroons
- Strawberry cupcakes with creamy strawberry buttercream
- Strawberries ‘n’ cream crumb cake
- Healthy berry streusel bars
Healthy Strawberry Oat Squares
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 2 hours
- Yield: 9-12 squares
- Category: Bars
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
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 pure maple syrup
- 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
Oatmeal Base + Topping
- 2 and 1/4 cups 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 pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup apple butter*
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- Make the strawberry filling first: Mix 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. While stirring occasionally, bring to a boil then allow to boil for 1 minute. 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 325°F (163°C). Line an 8×8 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.
- Freezing Instructions: Bars freeze well, up to 2 months.
- Fruit Butter: 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.
Keywords: strawberry oat squares, healthy strawberry bars
Reader Comments & Reviews
What if rolled oats ate used? I don’t have quick oats, on hand.
Hi Kathleen, quick oats are highly recommended in this recipe because their fine texture will hold together the best. They bars will be very crumbly without them.
Very good! I didn’t have enough almond butter so I added more applesauce which was a substitute for the apple butter. In addition I replaced the maple syrup with honey!
I ended up improvising a lot but still turned out great! Not too sweet but just right!
Will be making these, in the next couple of days. Silly question….why can’t I print the recipe? Thanks
Hi Sheila! There was a website update a couple days ago and we’re working to restore the print function on half of the recipes. Stay tuned!
Thanks, Ms. Sally. Here is a (funny version) of what happened today, when I made them. They do smell amazing, though. It’s long, but maybe, you can answer some of the problems I had. I really want to give these to my friend, so she has a good healthy snack, post-op.
Adventures in, Healthy Strawberry Oat Squares….
Some of this was just winging it, as it was a recipe, that wouldn’t print, so I ended up, coping and pasting into Word. Then I found out, it was measurements, not weight. The Berry ones were about the same thing, so went with the weight for them. No cooling “time”, so will do 10 mins in the pan and then to the cooling rack – they are baking as we speak.
Changes I made: didn’t have Almond Butter so I used PNB. Didn’t have apple butter, so subbed some homemade vanilla spiced pear butter. For the maple syrup, to keep it a little healthier for Jeanne (during re-coup time) I used honey.
Now to the 1/2 cup crumble for the top. What I found, that was not even close to covering the top. Went with it, though. Had no choice. Plus, there was no way, I could crumble, what I had. Very soft.
Timer just went off…..now I have to figure out, if it’s done, or not. Didn’t see anything for that, either.
They do smell good, though, and I could have taken a spoon and ate the filling.
Hi! Is it possible to make this recipe with apples?
Yes, I’d say so! I’d switch out the chopped strawberries for finely chopped apples.
I live in Australia and apple butter and other fruit butters are not widely available in my area 🙁 Am I able to use normal butter or will that ruin the taste? Love all of your recipes!
Use applesauce instead 🙂
I made these bars on the weekend, but substituted rhubarb and apples for the strawberries. These are a delicious and guilt-free treat 🙂 Thank you for the wonderful recipe. This one’s going in my recipe box!
Could you use blueberries instead of strawberries here? I have 10 lbs of frozen blueberries in my freezer and I am looking for a way to use them up, and your recipe seems like the perfect thing.
You sure can!
These bars are really, really good! I made the recipe vegan, by way of a standard flax egg in place of the chicken’s egg, and it turned out perfectly. I also used part rolled oats and part quick oats, left out the 1 tablespoon of sugar in the filling, used half almond and half peanut butter, added a pinch of salt to the filling, used applesauce instead of apple butter, and left out the sliced almonds. I know that sounds like a ton of substitutions, but they were all minor enough that I think the recipe’s integrity was maintained. They really are the perfect healthy snack bar! Thanks for a great recipe!
This looks so yummy. I can’t wait to try. My question is. I brought this big bag of granola from Costco. I would like to find other ways to use it besides a yogurt addition. Can I use it in this recipe?
You can sprinkle it on top of the squares before going into the oven.
Thank you Sally, these are fantastic. Local peaches are in now, so I think I will try those next time!
I just made these for my family and they are amazing! Thanks for the wonderful, healthy recipe! 🙂
Just made them, realllly happy with the result!! I would just add a little more strawberries the next time, but other than that, it’s a perfect treat! 🙂