[Holistic Squid's note: I simply adore real food makeovers, and this healthy oatmeal bar recipe is no exception. Erin's got me beat in her love for Christmas, but I'm pretty sure these beauties will be a hit any time of the year.]
I have a confession to make – I love Christmas more than you do.
It’s a scientific fact because, well, I say so.
I’ve already watched every single cheesy, happy-go-lucky, Hallmark movie there is on Netflix (I even own several myself). Plus, I finished all my Christmas shopping in October.
I’m also a BIG tradition girl – there are certain things we MUST do every year or it doesn’t feel like Christmas. I’m talking cookies for Santa (yes, I’m 30), singing carols on Christmas Eve, and OF COURSE watching It’s a Wonderful Life and The Muppet Christmas Carol.
And I’m a total and complete sucker for the Christmas treats my mom makes year after year. This season, I decided to real foodify my fave – healthy oatmeal bars with chocolate and caramel.
I love these because they’re ooey gooey with caramel and chocolate, plus oatmeal and brown sugar are two of the most perfect complementary things of all time.
Normally in a recipe like this I’d use sucanat (a little less refined and with more nutrients), but I really didn't want to take the brown sugar out because it's so tasty. Curious to see how healthy organic brown sugar actually is, I emailed the people at Wholesome Sweeteners.
Here are some of the highlights of the email they sent me:
Wholesome’s organic light and dark brown sugar are made of organic cane juice and organic molasses.
All Wholesome Sweeteners sugar cane products are minimally processed (unrefined) directly from the sugar cane. The sugar cane is simply crushed to extract the juice. The juice is heated to (maximum 125 Degrees Celsius) to evaporate the moisture and concentrate the sugar which is then crystallized and dried.
So, long story short:
I felt comfortable using organic brown sugar over sucanat this time because of the flavor and moisture it adds to these healthy oatmeal bars. Most brown sugars that you buy in the store are stripped down to your regular ol' white sugar and then “painted” with molasses or other dark syrups to give the sugar it's brown color.
I don't know about you, but I definitely can't live without the occasional treat in my life. A well-sourced brown sugar that is minimally processed and keeps its nutritional value is definitely ok to eat on occasion. Okay – on to the recipe!
Healthy oatmeal bars ingredients:
- 1.5 cups pastured-butter
- 1.5 cups sprouted spelt flour – this one is great
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups oatmeal
- 1 cup organic brown cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon scant unrefined salt
- 1 cup healthy chocolate chips – buy them online here
Caramel Drizzle: (or just melt some homemade salted caramels)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup raw honey
- 1/2 teaspoon real vanilla
- 1 teaspoon unrefined salt – I use this one
Healthy oatmeal bars method:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 9×13 pan with butter.
- Mix together butter, flour, baking soda, oatmeal, brown sugar, and salt from oatmeal base ingredients. It should be the consistency of cookie dough.
- Press about 3/4 of oatmeal base mixture into the bottom of the pan (about 1/2 inch thick). Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
- While the mixture is baking, warm the honey, cream, salt, and vanilla from caramel drizzle ingredients on the stove top until smooth. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, then lower the heat until you have a constant simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Spread chocolate chips on baked layer of oatmeal base, drizzle with caramel mixture, and sprinkle with the rest of the oatmeal mixture. Don't worry too much about getting the edges.
- Bake for another 15 minutes and then let cool completely. For best results, place the pan in the fridge for about an hour.
Be sure to let these healthy oatmeal bars set up after cooking, preferably in the fridge – if you can possibly wait that long. Or, if you have the self-control of a toddler (like me!), then scoop these things out with a spoon and suffer through the lava-hot caramel and chocolate dripping down your forearms and face (it’s probably worth it though).
What other treats like these healthy oatmeal bars have you real foodified?
Erin and Cameron Smith, teach people how to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes eating real food, eliminating toxins, and overcoming chronic illness. The secret for them has been to cook homemade substitutes of foods they like – but with healthy ingredients. Read more at Eat Real Stay Sane.