Oat & Berry Bars (Frugal, Vegan, Low Sugar)
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Before my crunchy people jump all over me, read this, because it makes these breakfast bars more frugal:
While I think healthy fats are vital to a healthy life, there’s always some question in the modern world about what those fats actually are. I choose to believe the fat that occurs naturally in real food is likely best – nuts, avocado, olives, animal fats, eggs, etc.
Most baking fats (butter, coconut oil, palm shortening, etc.) are EXPENSIVE. I can’t afford to eat gobs of coconut oil. However, I can afford to eat a little bit when I replace most of the oil in the recipe with a real food that’s very inexpensive.
Did you know you can replace some of the fat in baked goods with applesauce? Where I live, unsweetened applesauce is very inexpensive. It’s a real food – no added ingredients except maybe ascorbic acid. Unless a recipe requires a buttery, fatty taste – like pie crust or shortbread – I try replacing up to 3/4 of the oil with applesauce.
Generally, I don’t recommend replacing all of the oil. Applesauce changes the texture of the finished product. Sometimes that’s fine. Sometimes life is better with fat. In those cases, I try a generally accepted healthy fat – butter, olive oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, etc. Some are more expensive than others, but if you only use a tablespoon or two, they last a long time.
This works almost the same way as applesauce. Incredibly, in the absence of cinnamon spice and leaves falling from the trees, pumpkin has a very mild flavor. I limit it to recipes that taste fine with a little pumpkin flavor – baked oatmeal, quick bread, etc. But try it! Canned or homemade both work great. I also use puree made from sweet potatoes and butternut squash.
THESE BARS, Y’ALL
These breakfast bars are amazing. If you love butter or coconut oil, definitely try my original version. But if you’re like me – trying to eat as frugally and healthy as possible – try these. You won’t even miss the butter. Because, in this version, the berries take the spotlight.
I also left out the sweetener. Like I said in the original Fruit & Oat Bars, they could lose a little sweetness without losing their sigh-with-happiness flavor. Let the berries do the talking here.
- 3/4 cup rolled oats
- 1 1/4 cup flour, (spelt, whole grain, oat, gluten-free, and almond all work great)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup (or honey)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tbsp butter, melted, (coconut oil or palm shortening work great)
- 2 cups fruit, diced, (fresh or frozen works here - I used strawberries and blueberries for these photos)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp tapioca starch/flour, (or corn starch)
- Preheat the oven to 375 F.
- In an 8x8-inch pan, stir together oats, flour, maple syrup, salt, and melted butter. If the mixture seems overly wet, add flour a tablespoon at a time, but no more than a few tablespoons.
- Use your hands to press half the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Reserve the other half (you can just push it off to the side in the pan to avoid dirtying another dish.
- In a small bowl, combine chopped fruit, lemon juice, and tapioca flour.
- Pour the fruit over the oat crust in the pan (scooping reserved oat mixture into the bowl once it is emptied of fruit), then spread it evenly across the crust.
- Sprinkle reserved oat mixture across the top of the pan and gently press it into the fruit.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes.
- Cool for about 30 minutes, then cover and refrigerate until completely cooled (this helps the crust firm up really well). When cooled, cut into squares and enjoy for breakfast, dessert, snack, or whenever.
- I like this best with oat flour (rolled oats I just ground up - you can use a coffee grinder, food processor, or I used my Nutribullet dry blade), because they are such an inexpensive whole grain and they are gluten-free.
- If using granulated sweetener (brown sugar, coconut sugar, evaporated cane juice, sucanat, rapadura, etc.), use 1/2 cup.
- If using coconut oil, don't place in refrigerator to cool. They will become too hard to cut.
- If you want the fruit to maintain a little more umph and shape after baking, add 2 tablespoons granulated sugar to the fruit/starch/lemon juice mixture. I want to use the least amount of sugar, so I don't.
- Speaking of which, feel free to decrease the amount of sweetener. These are quite sweet in my opinion, and a little less won't hurt them if you want to try.
- Whipped cream (or coconut cream!) sounds amazing with these.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1 sqaure
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 143Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 69mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 1gSugar: 5gProtein: 3g
Please note: The actual calories and nutrition of this dish will change depending on what ingredients you use. Nutrition information is not always accurate.