Have a very good morning with one of my 5-ingredient, easy-to-make blueberry oat breakfast bars, which are vegan, added sugar-free, oil-free, and gluten-free. Each bar has only 75 calories and the recipe can be customized as much as you like.
I love the idea of a fruit-filled, portable cereal bar.
I don’t love the reality of ready-to-eat cereal bars from the grocery store, including the organic, all-natural, “healthy” options. In fact, I don’t like them at all. Mostly, I find them far too sweet and insubstantial (i.e., I am hungry again in about 15 minutes). Further, what is being added to the cereal layer? No matter the brand, it always tastes weird.
So I made my own version: Blueberry Oat Breakfast Bars.
First things first: these are very, very easy to make.
Second: the recipe has 5 ingredients (excluding water and salt).
Third: the recipe has no added sugar or fat. However, you can add either or both to your liking. You can also add spices and flavoring to suit your tastes. I like flexibility.
Fourth: the bars are also naturally vegan, gluten-free and have 75 calories apiece.
Sound good? Well here’s what you need to make them: blueberries (fresh or frozen (thawed)), oats, arrowroot or tapioca starch, very ripe banana, and flaxseed meal (read on if you cannot have flaxseed meal).
Not to worry if you cannot eat flaxseed meal. The purpose of its addition here is to add some fat, without adding oil, as well as some extra nutrition. You can sub any number of other ingredients, including equal amounts of almond meal/flour, ground chia seeds, hemp hearts, or other finely ground nuts or seeds. You can also add more ground oats, but the oat layers will be a bit more dense without the added fat.
Banana hater? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered, too. See the recipe notes for using applesauce.
Ok, let’s make these bars. First, make the oat layers. In a food processor, process 1-1/2 cups of the oats into a flour. Next, combine the oat flour with the remaining 1 cup oats, the flax, mashed banana (use super-ripe, mushy bananas for maximum sweetness), 3 tablespoons water, and (optional) salt.
Mix until combined and crumbly. The oat mixture will not be very sweet, which I like. It will have a toasty flavor after baking that suits my breakfast preferences. If you want your oats sweeter, go ahead and adjust. Add a bit of coconut sugar, monkfruit, a keto-style sweetener, or replace some of the water with maple syrup.
Two more options to consider: First, add flavoring(s) to your liking (e.g., cinnamon, cardamom, pumpkin pie spice, ginger, vanilla, almond extract, lemon zest). Second, add some fat. You can replace some or all of the water with the oil of your choice, which will result in crispier oat layers. It’s all up to you!
Now, make the filling. It’s a snap. Coarsely mash the berries with a fork, sprinkle with the arrowroot, and stir to combine.
You can customize here, too: if you want your berries sweeter, add some sweetener. Monkfruit, maple syrup, stevia, coconut sugar, whatever you like. Any given batch of berries can be more or less sweet, so taste and decide what works for you.
I also like to add a pinch of salt, to enhance the sweetness, but it is optional. Adding a drop of vanilla or almond extract, or some lemon zest, is also a fine & delicious idea.
Press half of the oat mixture firmly and evenly into a parchment paper-lined baking pan (8-inches/ 20 cm square).
Spread with the berry filling and crumble the remaining oat mixture on top.
Bake in a preheated 350F (175C) oven for 25 to 30 minutes until the topping is golden and the filling is bubbly. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
Once the bars are cool, refrigerate until they are cold. Use the parchment paper overhang to remove the bars from the pan and cut into 16 squares (or bigger bars, if you like).
These are definitely my kind of breakfast bars.
I hope you enjoy these bars as much as I do! I am sure they would be smashing with other summer fruits, including raspberries, cherries, blackberries, peaches, plums, and apricots.
Making this recipe? I would love to see it!
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- Oat layers:
- 2 and ½ cups (225 g) rolled oats (certified GF, as needed), divided
- ¾ cup (175 mL) mashed very ripe banana
- ¼ cup (26 g) flaxseed meal
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) water
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- For the filling:
- 2 cups (500 mL) blueberries (fresh, or frozen (thawed))
- 1 tablespoon tapioca starch or arrowroot starch (cornstarch will work, too)
- (Pptional) Pinch of sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Line an 8 inch (20 cm) square baking pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Oat layers: In a food processor, process 1 and ½ cups (135 g) of the oats into a fine flour. In a large bowl, combine (use a fork) the oat flour, remaining 1 cup (90 g) oats, banana, flaxseed meal, water and salt until combined and crumbly.
- Filling: In a large bowl, coarsely crush the blueberries with a fork. Sprinkle the arrowroot over berries and stir to combine. If desired, add a pinch of salt.
- Assembly: Firmly press half of the oat mixture into the prepared pan, evenly tamping down. Evenly spread with the blueberry filling. Coarsely crumble remaining oat mixture over filling.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until filling is bubbly and topping is golden. Cool completely, in the pan, on a wire rack. Refrigerate until cold.
- Remove from pan and cut into 16 bars.
Tips for adding more sweetness, fat (for crispness) and flavor: I like the minimally sweet flavor of these bars, but you can tailor them to suit your preferences. Taste both the uncooked banana oat mixture and the blueberries and decide if you want them sweeter. For crispier oat layers, feel free to add some fat by replacing some or all of the water with the oil of your choice. And add flavorings (spices, vanilla extract, almond extract lemon zest) in the oat layers or filling, as you like!
Flax substitute: If you cannot eat flax, replace it with an equal amount of ground chia seeds or almond meal/flour.
Banana Substitute: An equal amount of applesauce can be used in place of the banana. It will not be sweet, so you may want to add a bit of sweetener (of your choosing) to taste.
Oat Notes: Either old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats can be used in the recipe.