Oatmeal-Banana-Peanut Butter-Chia Bars
We all have our ingredient buzzwords. You know, those words your eyes gravitate towards on a menu and compel you to order the item that features them?
For most people, it’s probably bacon. But in my case, peanut butter and banana are major turn-ons, and fortunately, I have bequeathed this passion to my kiddos, who will happily eat these foods in any incarnation.
Always on the search for a healthy, low-sugar, portable snack for the kinder, I came upon a great recipe on my local online mommy board for Oatmeal-Banana-Peanut Butter squares. They were fast, easy, froze well, and when I brought them to the playground for my kids’ snack, I was like the Pied Piper of toddlers… they swarmed me like little toddler zombies in search of brains. The bars’ texture was soft, chewy and cake-like… but not so cakelike as to be crumbly. Perfect, portable toddler fare. I wish I knew this recipe’s origin so I could give proper attribution to its author!
Never one to leave good enough alone, however, I thought I could cram even more nutrition into these already wholesome snacks. Since my dear son seems to have strong vegetarian (actually, fruitarian is more accurate) inclinations, I’m always trying to make sure he gets offered one or two iron-rich foods per day. And while oats are naturally a good source of iron… so are chia seeds. So I decided to spike the squares with some chia and see if the kids would notice the difference.
I’m happy to report that they did not.
I’m even happier to report that these can easily be made gluten-free by using certified GF quick-cooking oats (such as Bob’s Red Mill), that they make a great low-glycemic mid-morning or pre-workout snack, and are nutritious and delicious for kids and kids at heart alike. The recipe as written contains < 1 tsp added sugar per bar, though if your banana is super ripe, you could probably even cut down on the brown sugar even further. Each bar is the equivalent of one diabetic exchange, for those of you counting carbs.
To optimize absorption of the iron from these bars, try serving them with a serving of Vitamin-C rich fruit, like kiwi, strawberries, papaya, cantaloupe or orange.
Recipe: Oatmeal-Banana-Peanut Butter-Chia Bars (Let’s call them “OBPB” bars, for short)
- 1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats (for gluten-free, use a certified GF brand, like Bob’s Red Mill)
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar (not packed)
- 3 TBSPs Chia Seeds
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup milk (can use lactose-free or swap in a non-dairy milk if you prefer)
- 1 large egg, slightly beaten
- 1 large mashed banana
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- Mix together the quick cooking oats, light brown sugar, chia seeds, baking powder, kosher salt and ground cinnamon.
- Add in the vanilla extract, milk and egg.
- Mix the ingredients together. Then add in the mashed banana and peanut butter.
- Combine all of the ingredients. Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 8 by 8 inch metal baking pan. Bake at 350 F degrees for 20 minutes. Cut into squares and enjoy!
Approximate nutrition info per bar (16 bars per batch and 2% milk in the recipe): 90 calories, 12g carbohydrate (of which 4g is sugar and 2g is fiber), 3g protein, 4g fat, 0.7 mg iron (which is 10% of the recommended intake of iron for kids aged 1-3). Note only 2g (or 1/2 tsp) of the sugar is added sugar, and the rest is natural sugar from the bananas and milk.
If you make a more generous-sized bar and cut the batch into only 12 squares, approximate nutrition info is as follows: 120 calories, 15g carbohydrate (of which 5g is sugar and 3g is fiber), 4g protein, 5g fat, 0.9mg iron (which is 13% of the recommended intake of iron for kids aged 1-3). Note only 3g (or 3/4 tsp_ of the sugar is added sugar, and the rest is natural sugar from the bananas and milk.
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