In an effort I haven’t tried in over a decade, I’m trying to get back to making almost everything we eat from scratch. The last 10 years have been a whirlwind and it’s only now that we have our very own castle that I’m starting to feel grounded. When the kids were all little, I was more mindful of what they ate – 2 of my kids are sensitive to one of the yellow dyes you find in things like Gatorade, all of them go loco when they get too much “Red Dye 40”, just as an example. As they’ve gotten older, their bodies can handle the chemicals better, but why on earth should they have to?
Coincidentally, Canada’s labeling laws suck. In the US, you’d see right there on the ingredients list “Red Dye 40” or whatever. Here? “Colour” – might be natural, might not (I’ve run into this with making soap as well). I just stopped buying *everything* that had added colour.
Health(ier) eating, on it.
If you have children that attend public school and/or do any extracurricular activities, or go to the gym or run, or work, or pretty much just live in anywhere in North America, you are probably familiar with the lowly snack bar: Mass produced mini-bricks of odd textures, funky ingredients, and flavours that range from absolutely disgusting to “meh, it’s edible”, regardless of the flavour claimed on the wrapper.
My boys (all 4 of them from the husband to the 13 year old) preferred the Nature Valley Sweet & Salty (Peanut) brand/flavour. They’re not disgusting. They’re easy and relatively cheap. But what if I could make better snack bars? They didn’t need to be a re-creation, they just needed the right texture (chewy, a little crunchy, not too hard or soft) with better flavour. And that didn’t take a lot of time and effort?
To keep the story short here, I’ll skip all the testing details and just say the recipe I’m sharing is the finale after “too hard, too soft, tastes funny” etc. Even *I* like these, and I hate snack bars.
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Snack Bars
- 1 cup Peanut Butter - Smooth or Crunchy
- ¾ cup Sugar - White or Brown
- ⅓ cup Real Maple Syrup
- 1 Egg
- 2 T Coconut Oil - room temp, not melted
- 1 tsp Real Vanilla Extract
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅔ cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips - or preferred baking chip(s)
- 3½ cups quick oats
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Lightly greasy or spray bottom and sides of a metal 9x13 cake pan.
- In your stand mixer with wire whips, or a large bowl with a hand mixer, mix peanut butter and sugar until fluffy (1-2 minutes). (For fastest, easiest mixing, use a stand mixer like my Bosch Universal Mixer)
- Pour in maple syrup, egg, and coconut oil and mix until well incorporated (2 minutes).
- Mix in vanilla and salt.
- If using a stand mixer, add the chocolate chips, then the oatmeal, and let run until well combined. If using a hand mixer, put it aside and add the chocolate chips and oatmeal by hand.
- Press mixture into greased pan and push down hard until flat and smooth; using the bottom of a measure cup works great.
- Bake at 350°F for about 15 minutes, depending on your oven. Watch the top and sides every minute starting at 15 minutes, when both the sides are brown, and the top is set (not shiny) and doesn't smoosh down when lightly poked, remove from oven. That comes at 15 minutes in our oven.
- Set pan on wire rack. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes to allow a firm set. Flip onto cutting surface and let fully cool.
- Cut horizontally into 9 long bars, then one long cut down the middle. Or however you prefer. Wrap completely in plastic wrap and store at room temperature up to 1 week. May be refrigerated up to 2 weeks and frozen up to 6 months (if freezing, wrap an extra layer over them to protect from freezer burn).