Oat & Berry Bars (Frugal, Vegan, Low Sugar)
This post contains an affiliate link, which means I receive a small compensation if you make a purchase using the links. You can view my full disclosure policy here.
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.
Adapted from this version
- 3/4 cup rolled oats
- 1 1/4 cup flour (spelt, whole grain, oat, gluten-free, and almond all work great)
- 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (plus 1 tbsp if you omitted maple syrup)
- 2 tbsp butter, melted (coconut oil or palm shortening work great)
- 2 cups berries, chopped (fresh - I used chopped fresh strawberries and whole frozen blueberries for these photos)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp tapioca starch/flour or corn starch
In a small bowl, stir together oats, flour, maple syrup (if using), salt, applesauce, and melted butter. If mixture seems overly wet, add flour a tablespoon at a time, but no more than a few tablespoons.
Grease an 8x8-inch pan. Use your hands to press two-thirds of the mixture into the bottom of the pan. It will seem like there is not enough crust to cover the bottom of the pan. Just keep pressing until you form a very thin, fairly even crust. Reserve the remaining third.
In a small bowl, combine berries, lemon juice, and tapioca flour.
Pour the fruit over the oat crust in the pan, then spread it evenly over the crust.
Sprinkle reserved oat mixture over the top of the pan and gently press it into the fruit.
Bake for 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cool for about 30 minutes, then cut into squares and enjoy for breakfast, dessert, snack, or whenever.
Store covered, in the fridge, for several days.
- 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 (affiliate link), because they are such an inexpensive whole grain and they are gluten-free.
- If you want a sweeter version, you may increase the sweetener to 1/4 cup maple syrup/honey or 1/2 cup granulated sweetener (brown sugar, coconut sugar, evaporated cane juice, sucanat, rapadura, etc.). You will likely have to add a few tablespoons of flour.
- Vanilla yogurt would taste amazing with these. Just sayin'.