29 April 2012

Ridiculously Easy Oatmeal Nut Bars

Lately, I've noticed a ton of bars, bites and cookies popping up on Pinterest.  And why not?!  They are delicious, egg free, healthy recipes for a girl, guy or pup on the go.  With the wonderful mix of options out there, one is bound to find one they'd like to try.  Unless you're the most indecisive person on the planet...a.k.a. me.  I've been waffling back and forth between about 5 recipes for the past month or so without trying a single one.  In retrospect, I should have just tried them all, but it's never too late for that!

One thing that kept me guessing for so long was the ingredient list.  While many call for delicious things like goba berries, chia seeds, flax and other good-for-you ingredients, I didn't have any of these things on hand.  What I did have are my staples - rolled oats, nuts, dried fruit and spices.  So I made a decision to stick with my indecision on their recipes and make up my own.

As the title says, these are ridiculously easy.  I think it took longer to pull the ingredients together than to actually make the bars.  It's also a pretty blank canvas.  I used walnuts & dried figs since we had ample supply of each, but you could use hazelnuts & apricots, cranberries & almonds, cherries & macadamias, Brazil nuts & prunes....whatever tickles your fancy.  Add coconut, chocolate nibs or sesame seeds.  I would have drizzled these with dark chocolate, but didn't feel like washing the dish.  Lazy Sunday....

Baking is also optional with this one.  At first, the hubs and I dove in to the uncooked bars and loved them, but I baked up the rest to see how it changed things.  Basically, they just hold together better if baked.  And if you like pop-able items, just roll them into balls and you're good to go.  But enjoy, none the less.

Ridiculously Easy Oatmeal Nut Bars
  • 1 c oats, rolled or quick-cooking
  • 1 c walnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 c dried figs
  • dash salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 c fat free sweetened condensed milk
To toast the nuts, place in a single layer in a pan over medium heat.  Cook for 7-10 minutes, tossing nuts frequently, until they become fragrant.

Combine toasted nuts, oats, dried fruit, cinnamon & salt in a food processor.  Process until grainy.  Add the sweetened condensed milk and process until a very thick "batter" is formed.  Like a bread pan with foil and press in mixture until very compact.  Bake for 20 minutes at 250 or refrigerate for 15 minutes.  Cut and serve.

Whole grain, nut and fruit goodness.  Love these suckers.

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