Raspberry Chia Oat Bars- recipe

I’ve been craving sweets lately.  I miss being able to go to a coffee shop a few times a week and order a fancy coffee drink and nibble a decadent bakery treat.  But my days of being able to plunk down $10 for an afternoon treat are long gone, and even if I could still afford it, as my health requires I avoid wheat and sugar.  This recipe was quick and easy to make, is super healthy without tasting super healthy, if you know what I mean! I thought I’d better take advantage of having access to a water spigot to wash up and make them while I could (I currently live in an RV with *no running water*!).

Also, confession: Every time I make something delicious and extravagant yet healthy with my food bank ingredients, it feels like a big F-You to poverty!

IMG_2481 (1)

Right now I’m baking raspberry-cranberry-chia oat bars with 80% food bank stuffs. I totally riffed off this recipe I found on line for the proportions, then added a bunch of extra ingredients.

Here’s what I put in them (food bank ingredients have a * next to them):
*1.5 C oats ***
1.5 C combo of garbanzo flour, *oats, dried coconut flakes,( about 1/2 cup each, pulsed in food processor to make flour) ***
* 3/4 C extra virgin coconut oil
1/2 C coconut sugar
*4 oz organic applesauce
1 C dates
fresh nutmeg
1 t sea salt
1/2 t baking powder
1 t xanthan gum (b/c I subbed non-glutinous stuff for the wheat flour normally used)

***Note, Oats and oat flour do not contain gluten in and of themselves, but often are processed in the same facilities as grains that do contain gluten.  There may be trace amounts of gluten in regular oats, which don’t bother most folks.  If you are extremely gluten sensitive, such as with Celiacs, you’ll want to get certified gluten-free oats and oat flour.


1. Pre-heat oven to 400F
2. Mix all ingredients together with hands. pat 1/2 the dough into a 9×9″ pan lined with parchment paper and greased with coconut oil
3. spread 1- *10 oz jar of homemade raspberry-cranberry chia fruit spread over the bottom layer (see recipe below)
4. To the remainder of the dough, add:
*1 c walnuts chopped
1/2 c coconut sugar
2 T maple syrup
1/2 C coconut flakes
and mix. Crumble handfuls on top and gently pat.
5. Bake at 400F for 25 min or until golden.
6. cool for 10 min in pan, then lift out of pan by parchment paper edges and cool completely on a cooling rack.
7. cut into squares and enjoy. Store in covered container in the fridge.

Raspberry-Cranberry Chia Fruit Spread

I didn’t follow a recipe or measure, just winged it.
*2C fresh organic raspberries
*2C dried sweetened cranberries
*juice of 4 oranges
6 packets stevia
1/2 C coconut sugar
2 T chia seeds

basically i just made this b/c i scored a boatload of fresh *organic* raspberries and most of them went bad. I was able to salvage 2 cups. I also got like a 2 lb. bag of dried cranberries from the food pantry and a bunch of oranges that weren’t good enough to eat on their own. I cooked the cranberries in a bunch of water and the juice of the oranges, then added the razz when the cranberries were plumped. cooked it for an hour or 2 until reduced by 1/2 or 1/3. It was still liquidy, so I added the chia seeds b/c I was tired of having the hot burner going and also to boost the nutrition content. this is a freezer jam/spread. I don’t like to hot-water preserve it b/c that reduces the nutrition in the chia seeds, which are raw.


What I love about this recipe:
~ mostly food pantry ingredients
~low glycemic index thanks to the choice of sweeteners (applesauce, orange juice, raspberries, coconut sugar, stevia and dates) balanced by the protein from the garbanzo flour, chia seeds and walnuts
~healthy fats- medium chain fatty acids in the coconut oil and high omega 3s in the chia and walnuts (alpha- linolenic acid)

~feels decadent but still healthy

Here’s the recipe I improvised off of: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/11314/delicious-raspberry-oatmeal-cookie-bars/

Take Home Practice:

~start with what you have on hand and see what wants to be made of them.   My inspiration for this recipe came after I received a food pantry bag that had rolled oats, single serve apple sauce and a jar of E.V. coconut oil. Since I’m not a fan of oatmeal in the hot summer, and I don’t eat applesauce, I thought of how else I could use them.

~play around with ingredients and keep a journal of how your experiments turned out.  That’s a good way to develop intuition if food riffing doesn’t come naturally to you.

~ find a recipe on the internet for a decadent treat and then experiment with making it healthier.  Some good substitutions are:

  • instead of butter, try coconut oil or up to 1/4 substitution of nut oils (they are usually too rich to sub 100%), or 1/2 applesauce for the fat
  • add nuts to almost any recipe to bump up the nutrition
  • instead of wheat or white flour,   sub up to 1/2 oats.  Or grind oatmeal in the food processor for an easy oat flour, sub garbanzo flour for up to 25% the called for amount of flour.  If you are subbing a non glutinous “flour” such as garbanzo or oat, you may want to add 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum as a binder.  This will also prevent your baked good from turning into a brick and give it a nice bouncy, airy bread-like texture.  Using too much xanthan gum will yield gummy results.
  • Grind chia seeds and use that for 25% of the flour.   I used up the last of my chia seeds in the jam, or I would have added them here.
  • instead of white or brown sugar, try additional fruits, dried fruits soaked in hot water and pureed, fruit juice, coconut sugar or stevia (stevia doesn’t taste great in chocolate based recipes in my opinion).  If you are subbing liquid instead of granulated sugar, cut back on your liquid elsewhere.

~Once you get a sense of how these proportions work out, and if they are to your liking, you can keep pushing up the percentage to see how much of the healthy substitution you can get away with.

I tasted these while still warm (I don’t think I’ve ever let anything completely cool before cutting in *my life*!).  They are delicious, especially since my rv oven can be temperamental.  I had to bake them for 35 minutes.  Next time I’d probably leave out the applesauce for a firmer/drier texture, and maybe reduce the coconut oil to 1/2 cup.  The sweetness is perfect.  Flavor, awesome.  I might think about adding 1 tsp. cinnamon, if I have it or some fresh or candied ginger.

I hope you enjoy and let me know how yours turned out and what if anything you substituted.

Blessings and Blissings,




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