Homestyle Oat Bars

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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.

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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.

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Cashew Queso

ChipsThink you have to give up nachos on a vegan diet? Think again.

There are so many creative and healthy ways to dress up the basic corn chip. Since going vegan I am always on the lookout for a new version of cheezy sauce. I think I found my new favorite.

Isa Chandra Moscowitz is one of my very favorite cookbook authors. Her recipes are straightforward and easy to execute–no weird exotic ingredients to hunt for at the health food store. Just real foods, real simple, real tasty.

The recipe can be found here on the Post Punk Kitchen website. This site offers a wealth of varied recipes, all vegan.

Sauce

This queso starts with soaked cashews, blended smooth with sautéed onions, peppers, garlic and Mexican spices. The sauce is then cooked on the stove for 20 minutes. Trust me, the deep flavor is worth the stir-time. I found it rather relaxing.

Nachos

I like to spread out a layer of refried beans mixed with whole pintos and salsa, then heat it up, adding the sauce and whatever toppings I have on hand. This works great for dipping, rather than pouring over all the chips, which tends to make them soggy.

Cheezy Sauce

You don’t have to give up nachos for a vegan diet, most of us know that now. With all the “faux” cheeses available, there’s no excuse not to give up that one dairy food that keeps many of us on the fence between vegetarian and vegan.

That being said– I have a real problem with processed fake cheese products. Number one, the fat content is super high. The sodium is often very high as well. I try to stick pretty close to nature in my dishes, and I found a really great all-purpose cheezy sauce recipe in “Veganomicon” by Isa Chandra Moscowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

I took their already wonderful recipe and tweaked it just a bit,  removing the oil, thus creating a fat-free sauce that tastes great! Pour it over baked nacho chips with all the fixins’ and I promise you will never miss that extra fat and calories.

Cheezy Sauce

2 cups vegetable broth or water

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon water

3 cloves garlic, minced

Pinch of dried thyme (crumbled in your fingers)

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard

Method:

Combine the broth and flour in a measuring cup and whisk with a fork until dissolved ( a couple of lumps are okay). Preheat a non-stick saucepan over medium-low heat. Place the water and garlic in the pan and gently cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often.

Add the thyme, salt and pepper to taste and cook for about 15 seconds. Add the broth, turmeric, and yeast flakes, and raise the heat to medium. Use a plastic coated whisk to stir constantly. The mixture should start bubbling and thickening in about 3 minutes; if it doesn’t, turn the heat a bit higher.

Once the mixture is bubbling and thickening, stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and mustard. Taste for salt, turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep warm until ready to use. Serve warm.