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Mom On the Run: Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

Categories: Food


I have a pet peeve.

Really, Chris? Just one?

Okay, I have more than one pet peeve. I have a whole trunk of them, but the big one is my disdain for junk food pretending to be “real” food.

The granola bars, breakfast bars, “fruit” snacks, “made from 100% fruit” juices, go-gurt, to name a few. Those tubes of yogurt make me want to gouge my eyeballs out. No really. Those and the single serving sized soups that you drink out of the can. Personally I think if you can not find time to use a spoon that you don’t deserve to eat. No soup for you!

I have no problems with eating or serving my children the occasional donut, candy, ice cream, or even Oreo. But the difference is I harbor no illusions that it is anyway good for us.

I read a great article by Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, in the New York Times recently where he wrote:

Once, food was all you could eat, but today there are lots of other edible foodlike substances in the supermarket. These novel products of food science often come in packages festooned with health claims, which brings me to a related rule of thumb: if you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid food products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a good indication that it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat.

But we are all busy. How do you fit the time in to make healthy foods a priority?

Last year I had undiagnosed food allergies and episodes of anaphylaxis that forced me to be a more vigilant label reader and in the process learn how to cook. If you had told me a year ago that I would enjoy cooking, I would have laughed at you. But now I do enjoy it.

Along the way I have discovered that making good foods also nourishes your soul. And that children already know this. They love pouring and mixing. They delight in handling fresh produce. It all seems magical to them that seemingly random ingredients come together to form food. Getting over the feeling that it is an awful chore that must be suffered through is difficult.

And so I am choosing to view the past year as a gift. Although now that I have learned my lessons I am so ready to pass the gift one. Any takers? No? I’ll throw in a couple of Epi-pens? No takers, huh?

Breakfast is always one of those meals that gets the short end of the stick. Lots of sugars and prepackaged, processed foods. Most of us don’t have the time to make healthy home cooked food in the mornings.

The ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats , uncooked
1 cup flour
1 cup packed dried fruit (apricots, raisins, cranberries,dates or even mini chocolate chips)
1 cup apple juice or orange juice
1/4 -1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (if using sweetened peanut butter you might want to cut back on the brown sugar)
3T milled flax seed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil

This is another recipe that you can’t go wrong with. Though I will say that the cranberry/peanut butter combo my children picked is not as good as some other more normal combinations. But they liked it and that is all that counts.


Oh, and artfully arranged measuring cup of rolled oats! Thanks, Chris we had no idea what those looked like. Be sure to not to photograph an important of the recipe now, okay?


I used my gluten free buckwheat flour. But you can use whatever sort of flour strikes your fancy. You could also run a cup of oats through your food processor and turn that into an oat flour if you want to get all wild and crazy.


I added the milled flax seed on top of the flour and mixed the dry ingredients up all together before adding the wet ones.


Or at least that is what I had planned on doing before I forgot and just started dumping things in. Which worked out fine too.


The wonder of orange juice in a measuring cup. I must have said 5 hundred million times, “No you can’t drink it.” Followed by, “No you can’t lick it either.” Sheesh, not when the internet is watching.


Pour it in. You will be surprised at how quickly it gets absorbed in.


My kids wanted dates in their granola bars. So I pulled out the mini chopper and chopped some up.


You may want to don some protective eye wear. You can never be too safe.


Now you will look into the bowl and say, “Huh. Is that really going to be good?”


You will need to work it with your hands to get it all mixed up evenly. It is very sticky.

Grease an 8″ x 8″ pan. Press firmly into the pan. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes. When you remove it from the oven allow it to cool before cutting. Or breaking which is what I did. With my bare hands. Store it in an air tight container.

Like most home made “real” foods it is very filling. Unlike the packaged kind, where you can eat an entire box of them and still not feel satisfied.


Doesn’t the granola bar look like it is floating on a heavenly cloud?

That’s because it is.

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21 comments so far...

  • Sounds yummy! Any ideas on a substitute for the peanutbutter? (My daughter is allergic. She gags at the thought of sunbutter and soybutter too so she probably wouldn’t eat the bars made with that either). I am right there with you on the food allergies leading to a love of cooking. Also, reading labels has caused me to realize how much garbage is in prepackaged foods.

    Chris says: You can just leave it out and add some more oil.

    Angie  |  February 29th, 2008 at 5:01 am

  • I am baking these tomorrow, my husband will love them. I may try some too.

    Corrie  |  February 29th, 2008 at 5:42 am

  • You can also use a cookie sheet to cook it and not press it down, and then you get a very loose granola mixture, which can then be used as a homemade breakfast cereal :)

    Ashley  |  February 29th, 2008 at 5:57 am

  • Going to try these out. Just wrote down the granola recipe yesterday too.

    For our little one with peanut/almond and whatever other sensitivity might turn up we buy NoNuts Golden Peabutter. It’s made in Canada so I don’t know if it can be found everywhere. I think it tastes good, more importantly the little one likes it and can spread away when the bigger kids are enjoy there peanut butter.Unfortunately to go along with the golden peas all ground up there is also, icing sugar and hydrogenated vegetable oil. It is working until I find a replacement.

    We had been using almond butter and sunflower seed butter until he reacted to almonds and I can’t say I like the game “here eat this,lets see what happens” anymore. So I am waiting till we can see the allergist or I have have time to go hang out in the hospital parking lot trying new things.

    Jade  |  February 29th, 2008 at 7:53 am

  • Label-reading has caused me to use only Kashi’s brand of instant oatmeal (for a quick breakfast), though only one out-of-the-way store here carries it. At least I know what the stuff in there is, in fact, it doesn’t look too different from this recipe!

    Brigitte  |  February 29th, 2008 at 10:15 am

  • what about cashew butter as an alternative to peanut butter?

    and… thank you, it’s nice to be reminded that good food isn’t hard to make.

    liza  |  February 29th, 2008 at 1:25 pm

  • I second the Kashi - I was shocked (ok, not really) when I read the label on the big brand name with the grey-haired guy’s oatmeal. Yuk! BTW, this recipe sounds yummy.

    cheryl  |  February 29th, 2008 at 1:39 pm

  • What, no pressed garlic?? ;)

    Chris says: You know I thought about adding some anyway.

    Mir  |  February 29th, 2008 at 1:59 pm

  • this sounds AWESOME! my son LOVES cerial bars so i would, of course, prefer he LOVE something with a little more nutritional value… at least around here i can get the brands that arent as bad… LOVE Kashi and Odwalla! i just had Kashi oatmeal this morning actually!
    The best part about real food is that it actually spoils so you have to actually eat it instead of letting it hang out on top of the fridge or in the pantry for 6 months… :)

    Kate  |  February 29th, 2008 at 2:47 pm

  • I made these this morning and I must say Yummy! My husband will be so happy (which is why I was put on this earth, right? To make sure he’s happy?”). He has been asking me for a couple of months to find a breakfast that is healthy, can be eaten on the run and doesn’t come out of a box. You have brought harmony back to our house in the morning.

    I have also become an avid label reader this past year, which is why I was glad that my mom surprised me with a bread machine. Have you ever read what goes in to a loaf of commercially baked bread?

    Laundry & Children  |  February 29th, 2008 at 3:29 pm

  • Yum. I am going to try this out. Thanks! I’m so with you on the food observations and your Michael Pollan quote. Okay, I am not a really, really healthy eater or anything. But I try, and I am increasingly horrified by the ingredients lists on store-bought products. Even aside from all the weirdo additives, the amount of sugar is horrendous. Especially because if there’s a lot of sugar mommy will pig out on it herself… :)

    Diane  |  February 29th, 2008 at 9:15 pm

  • When I made your granola last week (which is so very yummy, although I can’t get my kids to eat it, crazies. Maybe if they keep seeing me and their dad eating it…), I used toasted wheat germ instead of milled flax seed, which I have never bought and could not see through the bag at the store. Are they similar?

    cristen  |  February 29th, 2008 at 9:18 pm

  • Thanks for the recipe! I will be making these with the kids Saturday morning!

    Lisa Lisa  |  February 29th, 2008 at 9:34 pm

  • I have another similar recipe I’m going to try tomorrow but I may as well try both. I’m not a fan of prepackaged snacks either and I think fruit snacks are one of the more ridiculous products out there. I did find a recipe for home made fruit gummies that are made with juice and gelatin for anyone who may be interested.

    Jennifer  |  March 1st, 2008 at 1:15 am

  • Just made these today…my kids are in love! And they also had a really good time helping me make them. Thanks!

    Jen S  |  March 3rd, 2008 at 11:44 pm

  • That recipe sounds delicious and I hope I can motivate myself to make it soon!

    I know what you mean by healthy foods touting their “healthiness”. It’s annoying to buy something they claim is “healthy” only to find out when you’re eating it that it’s not all that great.

    On the topic of ice cream, you can make your own at home with actual healthy ingredients. It’s as simple as sugar, cream and whatever flavoring you want. I’ve been compiling recipes to use in my Play & Freeze Ice Cream Ball on my blog:

    I loved the ice cream ball so much I called up the manufacturer to get them wholesale to spread the love online. I guarantee the kids will be in love with making their own ice cream!

    Heather  |  March 4th, 2008 at 2:42 pm

  • Thank you so much for this recipe! I tried it this morning and love it. I didn’t have any apple or orange juice and was too lazy to go to the store and get some so I made them with white grape juice and raisins. They turned out great! Thank you.

    Larissa  |  March 13th, 2008 at 4:50 pm

  • Just wanted to comment to an OLD comment that - I use sun butter (sunflower seed butter) as an alternative to the peanut butter. You could also use soy nut butter.

    This is one of those fun recipes where I don’t feel confined and can add or sub whatever I want. Thanks for the inspiration and technical details!

    jen  |  March 14th, 2008 at 6:31 pm

  • I think these would taste great with dried cranberries but not with the peanut butter. I’ll have to experiment with just oil.

    Chris, should these turn out chewy, hard, or somewhere in between?

    t in hd  |  March 20th, 2008 at 9:07 pm

  • Sounds good but can’t send peanut butter to school. What can I substitute? Trying to find a recipe that doesn’t go all crumbly in their hands.

    Chris says: What about almond butter or one of the soy butters? I haven’t used them but I believe they have the same consistency.

    Myrna  |  October 18th, 2009 at 11:57 am

  • We have a new little nut-free person in our family. I saw another recipe for a breakfast bar that used mashed banana instead of peanut butter. It should provide the same stickiness and glue-consistency, eh? Might be worth a try. :)

    Thanks for the recipe! Will be trying to here too

    Laurie  |  December 2nd, 2009 at 11:05 pm