Homestyle Oat Bars

IMG_4761.jpg

I really like those tasty, chewy individually packaged oat bars I find at Whole Foods Market. But I don’t like paying $2.00 per bar!

So, I cracked open the pantry  and came up with my own quick, no-bake version that as it turns out, I like a whole lot better!

This recipe is simple. One you can throw together with whatever nuts, seeds, cereals and dried fruits you just happen to have hanging around. You don’t have to toast the rolled oats or the nuts, but I like that roasty-brown taste. These bars are soft and sweet, without being overly so, with a deep caramel-like flavor from the brown rice syrup.

Homestyle Oat Bars

adapted from the recipe found at fannetasticfood.com

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups rolled oats

1 cup crispy brown rice cereal

Any combination of the following, measuring 1 cup:

Nuts, any kind, roughly chopped (almond slices, pecans, walnuts, cashews)

Seeds, any kind (pumpkin, sunflower, chia, flax, sesame)

Dried fruit, any kind (raisins, diced apples, chopped figs)

Shredded coconut (raw or toasted)

1/3 cup brown rice syrup

1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla or maple extract

Himalayan pink sea salt (optional)

Method:

  1. If you like your oats and nuts toasted, preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. If not, skip ahead to step 2. Place oats on a dry baking sheet. Place nuts on a separate sheet. When the oven is ready, place the oats and nuts in the oven. Toast the nuts carefully watching the time. This should take 2-4 minutes. They burn easily. Pull them out and allow to cool. Stir the oats every 5 minutes and toast until they are golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer the toasted oats to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Prepare a small-sized shallow, rimmed baking pan by lining with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Measure brown rice syrup, peanut butter and flavoring into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30-40 seconds, then stir until combined.

IMG_6010.jpg4. Stir the rice cereal, nuts, fruit and other dry ingredients into the bowl with the oats and then pour the wet mixture over, mixing all together with a spatula into a sticky, crunchy mass.

IMG_6008

IMG_6011.jpg5. Immediately press mixture into prepared pan and flatten with your hands. Lightly dust surface of bars with sea salt, if using. Allow to set up in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes (if you can wait that long).

6. Cut into squares and wrap individually to prevent sticking together. For best results, store in the refrigerator.

IMG_4750.jpg

 

Cilantro Lime Salsa

 

 

Tonight was nacho night and we made the grocery run for the usual ingredients:  black beans, corn, serrano peppers, tortilla chips. When we got to the salsa aisle, though, the labels stopped me dead in my tracks.

I couldn’t bring myself to buy jarred salsa, knowing what I know now, about the acceptable ratio of sodium to calories per serving. The healthy ratio is 1:1. For example if the salsa contains 10 calories per serving, it should contain no more than 10 milligrams of sodium per serving. Pace brand salsa, has 230 milligrams per 10 calorie serving (2 Tbsp.). Who eats only 2 tablespoons of salsa?

So, I decided to create my own salsa, using salt-free canned tomatoes. It was actually very easy and quick. And tasted way better than salsa from a jar!

Cilantro Lime Salsa

1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice, no salt added

1/4 onion, red or white, finely diced

1-2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced

1/2 fresh jalapeno or serrano pepper, finely minced (optional)

Handful fresh cilantro, chopped

Juice of one fresh lime

Sea salt to taste

Method:

Combine all ingredients well and taste for seasoning. Add sea salt as desired.  Store in airtight container in refrigerator at least 1/2 hour to allow flavors to blend. Keeps about 1 week, refrigerated. Happy, healthy munching!