Hearty Baked Oatmeal Bars

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Oatmeal can be a very healthy, affordable and simple breakfast. This recipe, which definitely passes the simplicity test because you mix everything in one bowl and bake it in one dish, also adds portability to that list. Most people are on the go most mornings and need a breakfast that fits in a hand. This one does just that, in part because it can be made ahead of time.

I start most mornings with a simple bowl of quick-cook oats, a half cup heated for a minute in the microwave in three-quarters of a cup of water. (Use milk if you struggle with plain oatmeal or just want a better texture overall than water provides.) Then I stir in about a tablespoon of honey, a shake of ground cinnamon and, sometimes, a quarter cup of raisins or nuts. Just like that, I have a filling breakfast of only about 200 to 250 calories.

These Baked Peanut Butter Oatmeal bars aren’t as healthy as my routine morning recipe because they include white and brown sugars, but they’re incredibly tasty and still a better way to begin the day than downing a pre-packaged pastry, a bagel, a doughnut or, perhaps worst, no breakfast at all.

I have made this recipe by replacing the sugars with a quarter cup of natural honey and omitting the peanut butter altogether. I actually prefer it that way because I feel like I gain the portability of the oatmeal in bar form without sacrificing my goal of a healthier start to my day without all that sugar. The nut butter is entirely optional anyways, but I included it below because it was in the original recipe. It does add a stick-to-your-ribs quality and a touch of sweetness that’s not a must if you don’t prefer it.

If you make these ahead of time, you let them cool completely and then cut them into squares. If you have a slower morning, perhaps a weekend around the kitchen table, you can scoop the oatmeal hot from the dish before it sets and enjoy it in a bowl as more of a traditional meal. (I rather enjoyed it like that.) Either way, my oatmeal-loving tastebuds approve!

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Oatmeal Bars

What You Need:

1 ½ cups quick-cook oats (you can also use gluten-free oats)

¼ cup brown sugar packed

¼ cup white sugar (you can replace both sugars with honey or another sweetener to your taste)

¾ cup milk (whichever type you prefer)

¼ cup butter melted

1 egg

½ cup peanut butter (you can also use almond or another nut butter or omit this ingredient)

1 teaspoon baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

What You Do:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Grease an 8-by-8 baking dish, like one you’d use for brownies.

3. Mix all ingredients well in a large bowl.

4. Spread mixture evenly into baking dish, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until just starting to brown slightly.

5. Serve warm or allow to cool and cut into squares. I like nine square servings for bars, but you could cut them smaller if you like. Like brownies, these bars cut better if you allow them to cool longer.

If you enjoy a particular topping for your bowls of oatmeal, or in an oatmeal cookie, you can mix it in here, too! A few suggestions: chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, bananas, cranberries, blueberries. Just enjoy and make it how YOU like it!

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