Healthier Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

I know you're missing those Christmas cookies and peanut brittle from the holiday season. Well guess what, its time to have a healthy new year!! And that doesn't mean cutting out dessert, DUH! 

All of It - Healthier Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

I saw the recipe for Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Bars from Half Baked Harvest on Pinterest a couple of months ago and have been thinking about it ever since. I knew I had to wait until all the Christmas cookies were out of our system and kitchen. 

The first time I made Half Baked Harvest's Healthy Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Bars, I followed the original recipe pretty closely. They were DREAMY, and we were pretty sad when they were all gone. 

All of It - Healthier Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

These bars are already healthier than your average cookie or dessert bar, but I wanted to see if I could make them even healthier by using a mix of different flours, some wheat bran, flax seed eggs, and cutting down on the sugar and coconut oil by adding dates. My thought was that I could use them on my long runs, since I had run out of Picky Bars. The second version was packed with fiber….and therefore not a good choice for before or during a workout…. Know what I’m sayin?

I finally found the perfect mix! It just happens to be gluten free, and includes the option to make them egg free. 

All of It - Healthier Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

Instead of wheat flours, I used brown rice flour and oat flour. Oat flour has a little bit more protein than regular flour and also makes these bars supah dense and chewy. Don't be scared to use different flours!! Typically, heartier flours tend to be a bit dry and require additional liquids and fats. I thought the addition of dates would help with this, plus they bind ingredients together, add to a chewy gooey texture, and provide extra sweetness so I could cut down on the sugar too!

All of It - Healthier Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

4 dates later, I cut things down from 1 cup of brown sugar to ¼ cup maple sugar (you can add more if you feel like it needs it!) and decreased the amount of coconut oil from one cup to ¾ cup. I also added natural peanut butter, the kind you grind in the grocery store. This peanut butter tastes GREAT because there is one ingredient, PEANUTS! No added salts or oils. Its also a little easier on the stomach, at least in my experience. 

All of It - Healthier Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

Let me just tell you, these bars do not stay in our house very long.  

Try this out and let me know what you think! Leave me a comment below! Take a pic of your beautiful creation, post it on Instagram, tag me @corrielanderson and use #itsallofit! Happy Weekend everyone! 

Healthier Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

Recipe Author: Adapted from Half Baked Harvest!                                                                 Recipe Type: Dessert and Breakfast!                                                                                     Serves: 18

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2 Cup Rolled Oats
  • 3/4 cup oat flour*
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional)
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil, in liquid form
  • 1/2 cup real maple syrup
  • 1 flax seed egg or 1 regular egg
  • 4 dates, pitted and soaked**
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter ***
  • 1 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 340 degrees. Grease 9 x13 pan or prepare with parchment paper. For thinner bars, just use a bigger pan and decrease baking time a bit. 
  2. Add rolled oats, oat flour, brown rice flour, baking soda, kosher salt, and unsweetened shredded coconut (optional) to a large bowl. Mix well.
  3. Add soaked dates, vanilla extract, maple syrup, and 1 tablespoon coconut oil to a blender. Pulse until you get a pretty amber colored mixture.
  4. Pour into a medium sized bowl. Whisk egg or flax seed egg into mixture, and then add peanut butter. Mix together.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and use an electric hand mixer, if you have one, to mix all ingredients together. Fold chocolate chips into the oatmeal mixture.
  6. Scoop dough into pan and spread evenly. You will probably need to use your hands to smush the oatmeal mixture into the pan. Sprinkle a tiny bit of kosher salt over the bars before you pop them in the oven!
  7. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes and then let the bars sit for about 15 - 30 minutes before you cut into them. Don't over bake!!

Additional Notes

  • * Make your own oat flour! Throw a bunch of oats into a food processor and pulse until you have a fine powder flour
  • ** Heat up about 1/2 cup of water in a microwave safe bowl. Let dates or apricots soak for about ten minutes. Drain before adding to a blender. 
  • *** Use the peanut butter that is freshly ground in the grocery store, it has the best flavor and has one ingredient; peanuts. You may need to warm the peanut butter up a bit so it is more pliable and therefore easier to mix.