My little Heidi Sage has a favorite food...well lots of favorite foods. But one that I buy a lot of is cereal bars. In fact, the general rule at our house is that if you go to the store, you always get some milk and cereal bars...no. matter. what. If we're not out yet, we will be soon enough.
In an effort to feel as if I were providing her a healthier option, I decided I needed to start making them myself so I would know exactly what was going into them...and see if I could save some money.
The recipe I finally came up with was one I got from my friend Heather. She had gotten it from allrecipes.com and had already done about a dozen trial runs tweaking the recipe each time. I took her version and tweaked it a bit more to my kids' tastes. Feel free to use as is...or tweak some more! :-)
Homemade Cereal Bars
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons flax seed meal
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 sticks butter (melted)
1/2 c. amber agave nectar (see picture below, could also use Honey)
1/2 c. peanut butter (or almond butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Spreadable fruit (see picture below)
Preheat oven to 325.
First thing I did was the pulse the rolled oats 2 cups at a time through my food processor. My kids like a smoother texture.
When I was done it looked about like this.
We then added all the remaining dry ingredients: 1 c. wheat flour, 1 t. baking soda, 2 T. flax seed meal, 2 T. cinnamon, and 1/4 c. dark brown sugar. Mix it all together good, then add all the wet ingredients, 2 sticks melted butter, 1/2 c. agave, 1 c. applesauce, 1 t. vanilla, and 1/2 c. peanut butter.
I then lined a 9x13 pan and an 8x8 pan (not pictured) with parchment paper to allow easy removal after cooking. I took 1 3/4 cups of the dough and mashed it flat into the 9x13 pan (the 8x8 pan takes 1 c. of dough). This is quite a thin layer. It will puff up some during cooking, but I was trying to mimic the thinness of a store bought cereal bar. To keep the dough from sticking to your hands, pour about a 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of cooking oil (I used canola) and coat your hands with it.
Cook for 20-25 minutes.
Remove from oven and spread a thin layer of spreadable fruit all over the hot oat mixture.
You will use another 1 3/4 cups of the dough to create the top layer for the 9x13 pan (and 1 c. for the 8x8 pan). I took a fistful at a time, mashed it flat in my hands and then pieced it together across the top of the spreadable fruit. Trying to mash it down on the fruit makes it spread and squish everywhere. Place back in the over for another 20-25 minutes.
Once it is done baking, let them cool for about 15 minutes in the pan then remove and continue cooling on the counter.
Once completely cooled, use a pizza roller to cut the bars into your desired serving size.
I made both strawberry and blackberry bars. My kids and I gobbled them up quickly and have already made more batches.
I hope you find yourself in the kitchen whipping these up soon!