Friday, February 1, 2013

PB & J Oat Bars

An early morning conversation with my husband inspired these delicious stick-to-your-ribs breakfast bars. He woke up craving a Bob Dylan bar. When he used to work for Wild Oats market (prior to Whole Foods merger, of course) he'd eat one of these layered bars nearly every day. A somewhat dense peanut butter "blondie"-type base, smothered with strawberry preserves and topped with a crunchy oat, coconut, and chocolate concoction. Could I reproduce a healthier version? I was up for the challenge!

I started with the base. I found a recipe for a peanut butter brownie in my go-to baking book. I tweaked it here, and tweaked it there. Used coconut oil instead of butter, cut down on sugar, substituted whole wheat flour. Voila! It worked. Next, the topping. My first attempt needed a bit more time to toast. The second time, I added a little more oil and roughly chopped pecans joined the mix. It was just about right. 

Now for assembly. While the base was still a little warm, I smoothed the preserves over, then placed the bars into the fridge to cool a bit more. After about 5 - 7 minutes, I removed the pan, sprinkled even handfuls of the oat mixture over the top and lightly pressed it down into the jam. Cutting six equal pieces, I wrapped them individually in plastic wrap and placed them high up on the counter where my pre-schooler couldn't reach them. ;-) 

Would it pass the true test? Later that day, my husband unwrapped his "Bob Dylan" bar (by Beth) and took a bite. His nostalgic look told me everything I needed to know. The slight smile and nod of head as he looked at me? Awesome! Nothing could make me more happy. 

Now YOU can create these treats for an on-the-go breakfast or mid-day snack. ;-)


Peanut Butter Base
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 Tb. Chia gel (or equivalent for 2 eggs) 
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup flour (1/2 cup white, 1/2 cup wheat)
1/4 tsp. baking powder

Jam Layer
1/3 cup strawberry preserves (or jam of choice)

Oat Topping
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
2 Tb. vegetable oil
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used Kirkland brand from Costco)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss rolled oats, coconut flakes, and chopped pecans with 2 Tb. oil until evenly coated. Place on baking sheet and toast until nicely golden brown (maybe 10-12 minutes or more - you'll  want to keep checking on it to make sure it doesn't burn). Remove from oven and set aside to cool. When cool, add chocolate chips

Cream coconut oil, sugar, and chia gel in a medium bowl with a hand mixer. Add peanut butter and continue to mix until incorporated. In a small separate bowl, stir together flour and baking powder. Add to peanut butter mix and combine well. Pour into a lightly sprayed 8x8 -in casserole dish and smooth evenly with a spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the base appears set and the edges are slightly brown. (I have a gas range, so baking times may vary). Remove and cool for 10 minutes or so. 

When cool enough to touch the surface, spread an even layer of jam over the top. Sprinkle oat topping over the surface and press lightly into the preserves. Cut into desired serving size (you don't have to go as big as I did) and enjoy!


  1. Looks good, Beth! Make me some. ;-)
    Haven't used Chia Gel. You use it much? Like it?

  2. Totally making!!! Do you make the chia gel with the seed or is it something you buy premade?