Energy bars, protein bars, cereal bars—how often do you unwrap a packaged snack to satisfy hunger and keep you moving until your next meal? Buying a box might save you money, but if you purchase them individually, expect to dole out a dollar or more per bar. It can add up! Instead, make a batch of your own with healthy, whole-food ingredients and sweet, fresh fruit as filling. I pack mine in individual wax bags so they’re easy to grab when my family is headed out the door.
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup quick oats
¼ cup coconut flour
¼ to ½ cup ground goodness (options include flaxseed, chia seeds, sesame seeds, nuts, raisins or a mixture)
¼ tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 cup brown sugar (may substitute mashed banana, honey or agave syrup*)
½ cup coconut oil
1-3/4 cups fresh berries
3 Tbsp. water
1-1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1. In a large bowl, combine all base ingredients (mixture should be crumbly but slightly bound together). Set aside.
2. For filling, combine berries, water and lemon juice in small saucepan; bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer until slightly thickened. (Tip: For sweeter flavor, add about a tablespoon of sugar or sweetener of choice.) Remove from heat.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Press half of base/topping mixture into 8”x8” pan, patting down firmly. Spoon filling over base. Bake for 20 minutes.
4. Remove pan from oven. Add remaining base/topping mixture to create a top layer. Bake an additional 30 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool before slicing into bars.
* To replace brown sugar with honey or agave syrup, use ½ cup and add an additional ¼ cup of whole wheat pastry flour. Or, replace brown sugar with a medium-sized banana, mashed.
Tips and varioations:
- If you’d prefer to use less coconut oil, simply reduce the amount and add a little water instead.
- No fresh fruit on hand? Use prepared/premade jam instead. Use 1-1/2 cups with a small amount of water added.
- Try using other fruits such as apples, pears or figs for the filling—just dice or mash down once cooked. You could also use applesauce.
- Try using chocolate as filling. The possibilities are endless! Just be sure to use about 1-1/2 cups of filling in the recipe.
Dana Zucker is a home cook that likes to do it her way! She gets creative with nutritious ingredients to keep her active family—teenage twins and a vegan, triathlete husband—healthy and happy. Cooking with organic, local and whole food ingredients is key, whether she’s whipping up an early-morning breakfast, prepping afterschool snacks or getting dinner on the table at 10 p.m. Dana says, “We do eat out sometimes, and even cheat with some pre-made foods. But I try to balance making delicious foods with the reality of a busy schedule.” Dana’s recipes are a great starting point to find a style of cooking that works for your family. Her advice? Keep it real—and keep it easy!