homemade strawberry cereal bars with whole oats

I’VE TRIED TO MAKE  BARS LIKE THESE BEFORE. A bunch of times. The results were too thick, too crumbly or just not flavorful enough. This time we got it right. Look out Nutrigrain bars, we’ve got a homemade version that’s fresher, less expensive and even yummier.

The kids actually cheered when I served these for a snack the other day. Yelling and clapping. When was the last time you clapped over a meal? Maddening as it is sometimes, cooking for kids offers little payoffs in totally surprising ways. And I’ll take every one of them.

This recipe is actually very simple, a combination of our previously botched attempts. Give this one a try, serve the bars for breakfast, snack or even dessert. And if applause is the response at your place, just take a moment to bask in the temporary glory. I’m sure they’ll throw stuff on the floor the next time.

Homemade Strawberry Cereal Bars with Whole Oats

I like Kirkland’s Strawberry Organic Fruit Spread, made with organic strawberries and yes, a bit of organic sugar (available at Costco). If you can’t find no-sugar-added fruit spread, this is a good substitute.

ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup flax seed, ground
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) cooled and cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons ice water
  • 3/4 – 1 cup strawberry fruit spread (with little or no sugar added)

instructions

Preheat the oven to 350. I used a quarter sheet pan (a small cookie sheet measuring 13″ x 9.6″) with a Silpat liner. You could use any pan with those approximate dimensions and if you don’t have a non-stick liner for it, butter the pan, add a sheet of parchment then butter the parchment.

Add the dry ingredients to a food processor: flour, flax, oats, sugar and salt. Pulse a few times to mix. Add honey, butter and ice water then plus until the mixture looks uniform and almost starts to clump. (Mine didn’t reach a clumping stage but definitely held together when I took off the lid and touched it.)

Sprinkle half the mixture in an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Push down with clean hands (little ones love this step) and make sure there are no holes or gaps. Spread a thick layer of fruit spread over the top. Sprinkle the second half of the oat mixture on top, like you’re making a fruit crisp. A few windows peeking into the fruit spread are fine. Press down gently so it won’t get too crumbly and bake for about 45 minutes, until the top is golden and crisp.

This post is linked at: My Girlish Whims,What I Whipped Up Wednesday and  Wow Me Wednesday.

Comments

    • charityc says

      Hi Shannon — It would depend on the kind of fruit. The nice thing about the fruit spread is that you already know the consistency. Berries will become more liquid, apples might not be juicy enough. I’d go with jam if you don’t have fruit spread. Otherwise, just wait and make them when you’re ready. I hate coming out with duds after spending time in the kitchen!

  1. Rachel says

    I have been looking for something like this to make for a long time. I have 2 year old twin boys and a 1 year old daughter – do you think this is soft enough for those age ranges? I make all our food at home and I follow lots of your ideas, thanks for writing this blog.
    p.s. barefoot contessa is my favorite too :)

    • charityc says

      Hi Rachel! Yes, these are totally soft enough for those ages. It’s actually pretty crumbly so don’t forget the bibs. And I’ll tell you what, if I ever have half as much fun in the kitchen as Ina seems to every day, that’ll be my best day of all. Here’s to a new year of Ina recipes converted for little tykes!

  2. Nicole says

    I just made these, but with a small change. I used oat flour instead of wheat flour (gluten-free). They are crumbly, but in a good way. They were very easy to make. My kiddo is still napping, but I intend to feed it to him for snack this afternoon. Anyway, if he won’t eat them, I will!

    • charityc says

      Sounds like my kind of plan, Nicole! Hope they turned out well and that both of you got to enjoy a few. Thanks for writing and please do let us know how they turned out.

    • charityc says

      Hi Allison! I stored them in an air-tight container on the counter for a few days. They didn’t last very long!

  3. Deborah F. says

    I have a pan in the oven now. When I tried to spread my fruit spread on top, it didn’t spread very easily (even though the spread is very soft). The bottom crust came up and mixed in as I was spreading, even leaving a few holes. Any suggestions? Put it in a ziploc & cut the end and squeeze over? Thanks!

    • charityc says

      Hi Deborah! If I understand you correctly, it’ll probably be fine to let the fruit spread swirl in a bit with the bottom crust. You could certainly add a couple more tablespoons of spread just so you have a nice layer there. Alternatively (and unfortunately this would only work for next time), you could bake the bottom layer first for about 8 minutes then spread the fruit spread, then dot with the top layer and put the whole thing back into the oven. This is the technique for a very similar recipe, although this one includes much more butter: buttery oat bars with strawberry jam. Let us know how they turn out!

      • Deborah F. says

        Thanks for the feedback. I like having to do only one baking. So much easier! They turned out fine. Yummy (and also feel very healthy). I think I may try doubling the strawberry spread next time as the layer is so thin that it’s more a thin chew than fruity. They are holding together really well & our toddler liked them (this time–who knows about tomorrow?).

        I’ve also been eying smitten kitchen’s raspberry bars… Definitely more butter!

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