In case you didn't already know, I love dessert! Every day, I look forward to a sweet treat after dinner & most days, we have one. Since we love dessert so much, I try to make healthy treats for us.
These bars are healthy, low in sugar, & packed full of oats, but they taste delicious & satisfy our taste for something sweet & chocolatey. I used a combination of dried fruits (cranberries, cherries, golden raisins, & blueberries), but any of those would work by themselves as well. The cranberries were my favorite in combo with the chocolate!
I was really tempted to have one for breakfast & just might do that tomorrow. Aside from the chocolate, these are very similar to a baked oatmeal, so I say go for it! Dessert for breakfast always makes the day feel special. :-)
Fruit & Chocolate Oatmeal Bars
Vegan & Gluten free (if using gluten free oats)
1 banana, mashed
1/3 c nut butter*
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c almond milk
1/4 c sucanat/coconut sugar/brown sugar
2 c rolled oats, gluten free if necessary
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 T chia seeds
1/4 c cocoa powder
1/3 c dried cranberries, raisins, or a mix
1/3 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray an 8x8 pan with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, mash together the banana and nut butter. Add vanilla and milk and stir until combined. Stir in oats, baking powder, salt, chia seeds, and cocoa powder. Once combined (don't overstir), add dried fruit and chocolate chips. Spread in the prepared baking pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until top springs back lightly when touched. Allow to cool before slicing.
*Any nut butter or cookie butter (like from Trader Joe's) can be used. Cookie butter or almond butter have a more neutral taste. Peanut butter would add more flavor & make them a peanut butter chocolate bar!