Healthy oatmeal chocolate chip bars
By Well Plated by Erin
When I examine my life rationally, I realize that my self worth is not dependent upon whether or not my household of guests likes my Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars. That said, when I set a plate of the healthy, whole wheat oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip bars before my sister, brother-in-law, and husband—all of whom are highly opinionated about their desserts—I held my breath for the table's first reaction.
Worth, affirmed. Every single person had second helpings. My brother-in-law had thirds, then refused to believe me when I informed him that these chewy, ooey-gooey, peanut-butter-loaded oatmeal chocolate chip bars are:
- 100% whole grain
- Contain ZERO refined sugar
- Contain ZERO butter, shortening, or oil, and
- Pack 5 grams of protein per bar
Although I make healthy tweaks to every one of my dessert recipes when I can, I'm sometimes hesitant to serve the healthiest of the healthy to guests, because I'm nervous about how they will be received. Sure, I think that these Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars are fit to make the angel choirs sing, but would someone who is used to a more traditional, sugar-and-butter-based cookie bar agree?
The beautiful and terrible thing about family is that they tell you the truth. Where friends and co-workers might politely take a bite of your naturally sweetened, butter-free dessert, then wait for you to walk away before chucking the remainder in the trash, family need not fuss with these formalities. The fact that my family enjoyed this simple, healthy dessert made our weekend together even sweeter.
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter (I recommend the natural, shelf-stable kind, not the refrigerated kind, as it does not hold together as well and can make the bars dry)
- 1/3 cup honey (or swap light agave nectar or maple syrup to make vegan)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup rolled oats (gluten free if needed)
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour (or substitute all purpose flour; see recipe notes to make the bars gluten free)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (I prefer aluminum free)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup milk (any kind you like)
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips (dairy free if desired)
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line an 8x8-inch baking dish with parchment paper so that you have some overhanging the sides like "handles," then lightly coat with cooking spray. Set aside.
- With an electric mixer in a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the peanut butter, honey, applesauce, and vanilla extract until smooth and evenly combined, about 3 minutes. Beat in the salt.
- Sprinkle the cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda over the top. Then, sprinkle on the flour and oats. Beat until combined and the batter comes together With the mixer running on low speed, drizzle in the milk and continue beating until incorporated. The batter will be very thick. With a wooden spoon or spatula, fold in the chocolate chips.
- Once dough is well combined, scrape it into the prepared baking dish, then press the top to make it even. Bake for 16-19 minutes, until the bars are lightly golden and just set. Do not over bake! Allow to cool completely, remove from the pan using the parchment paper overhang, then slice.