Granola Bar Blondies
Gluten-free, Refined Sugar-free
Yes, I know it seems like I keep making the same sort of thing over and over again. I probably have, but that is simply because I can get a bit obsessive and fixate on one recipe or idea until I get it exactly right.
Lately my obsession has been around making an oaten treat that is on the healthier side, but still tastes like a sweet treat. Also I accidentally ordered 3 bags of gluten-free rolled oats so I need to find a good way to use them up.
When I think about my favorite snacks as a kid (or teenager), the two that comes to mind are Little Debbie’s Oatmeal Cream pies and Pepperidge Farm Soft Baked Oatmeal Raisin cookies. Both delicious but not the best for me, but there was a theme clearly: oatmeal.
These granola bars give you that delicious oatmeal chew, crunch from the nuts, a little chocolate, but without the intense sweetness. So let’s talk about what goes into these lovelies.
The Dry Ingredients
To get the full oat experience, I used a mix of gluten-free oat flour and gluten-free rolled oats, both from Bob’s Red Mill. Oat flour is probably my favorite gluten-free flour just because you get the nutrition of oats, but in the form of a flour. I used rolled oats, not quick cooking oats, to get a better texture, more chew and a bit more fiber.
Oats are a great source of fiber, which gives you a long-lasting sated feeling, but I added a bit more. Flax meal and Hemp Hearts gives a boost of Omega’s and other vitamins and minerals. I tend to add these two ingredients to a lot of my recipes because I am not as likely to eat them just sprinkled on yogurt or something.
Next comes the protein: collagen peptides. These guys are having a moment right now. I started adding them to my coffee every morning about 3 years ago after my nutritionist suggested that they could help repair my gut (something very important if you have Crohn’s Disease like me). In addition to the benefits of collagen for your gut, they also are a good source of protein. So they are perfect added to these granola bar blondies. I get unflavored collagen peptides and, trust me, you won’t taste them in the final product. If you would rather not add them, not a problem.
The Wet Ingredients
Ah the buttah. I love to use regular old dairy butter for most baked goods, but I have been trying out different vegan butters lately as I try to cut back on dairy. Melt Buttery Sticks have come out have the favorite and work just like regular butter; therefore, I used them in this recipe.
You can certainly use dairy butter, my favorite is Kerrygold unsalted butter. When looking for butter, always go for grass-fed and, at best, European. European butter has a higher fat content and richer taste in comparison to American butter.
You can also use a mix of almond butter and coconut oil. I would suggest using liquid coconut oil; if you use the solid coconut oil it will seize up when you add the egg (unless your egg is at room temperature).
The Incredible egg. I like to use regular eggs in more recipes, opting for organic and free range. If you are vegan, you can substitute a flax egg (1 tbsp flax meal mixed with 3 tbsps warm water). If you do use a flax egg, you might need to add 1-2 tablespoons of warm water to the mixture.
Let’s talk sugar. My go-to sugar is coconut sugar. It is a low glycemic sweetener that works just like cane sugar and tastes just the same. You get the flavor of brown sugar, the texture of cane sugar and the low glycemic benefits. I used a whole cup, but you can lessen it to 3/4 of a cup if you want to dial back the sweetness more.
I only tested this recipe using all coconut sugar, but you can try using a mix of coconut sugar and maple syrup, agave nectar or honey. I would not recommend using just a liquid sweetener as the dough will be too wet.
Let’s get to baking!
1/2 cup vegan or dairy butter
1 cup coconut sugar
1 large, organic egg
1 tsp vanilla extract (be sure to use a gluten-free one)
1/2 cup gluten-free oat flour
3/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1 cup grain-free granola (I used Grandy Oats Coconola)
1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate (Taza Wicked Dark is my go-to)
1 scoop collagen peptides (optional, but the protein boost is a plus)
1 tablespoon flax meal
1 tablespoon hemp hearts
1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt, ground (or kosher salt)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
Preheat oven to 350F and move racks to the upper portion of the oven.
Line a jelly roll pan or 8in square baking dish with tinfoil and grease with olive oil or butter.
In a medium bowl, combine the oat flour, rolled oats, granola, chocolate chunks, hemp hearts, flax meal, collagen peptides (if using), cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Stir together and remove any chucks from the oat flour.
In a large heatproof bowl, toss in the vegan butter and coconut sugar and microwave for 1 minute or until the butter is melted. Whisk together until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla extract and whisk again to combine.
With a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix to combine. Pour/scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing out the mixture so it is even.
Bake for 16 to 20 minutes, until the middle is springs back when touched.
Let cool completely before slicing. I like to slice these long and thin like granola bars. If you want to go the extra mile, melt a chocolate bar with 1/4 tsp coconut oil and drizzle over the cooled, sliced bars.
These will last in an airtight container for 1 week or wrapped up in the freezer for 3 weeks.