I love a dessert recipe that satisfies my sweet tooth without leaving me guilt ridden after my indulgence. This is the perfect recipe for a power snack or sweet treat. This is also a momentous occasion because I think this is the first vegan-friendly dessert I’ve whipped up. The beauty of these bars is the soft, gooey texture that is also moist and dense. If you are a peanut butter lover, these are not to be missed.
To be honest, this isn’t exactly a low-calorie treat because of that awesome peanut butter, but this certainly falls into the “healthier” column. First, we rely only on whole-wheat flour. Second, oatmeal, you already know my love for oatmeal. Truly, no one will realize that these don’t contain loads of butter or sugar. I adapted these from Sally’s Baking Addiction and I decreased the brown sugar to just ¼ cup for the entire batch and I used all natural peanut butter to move us a little further into the healthy column.
Because I’m a gal that just can’t avoid chocolate, especially when peanut butter is involved, I mixed in chocolate chips (ok, not vegan and probably not “healthy”). You can easily omit the chocolate chips or mix in raisins to keep it even healthier and vegan. Take note, these are awesome after a workout or to snap you out of that mid-afternoon lull in the office. Make a pan and share with fellow peanut butter lovers. You’ll make new peanut butter lover friends.
What is your favorite way to enjoy peanut butter? Sweet or savory?
PEANUT BUTTER OATMEAL POWER BARS (adapted from Sally’s Baking Addition)
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup all natural peanut butter (smooth or chunky, your choice)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk (I used skim milk, but you can use almond or soy milk to keep this vegan)
½ cup chocolate chips or raisins (Optional or both! Note: If you are not using any mix-ins, I recommend you increase the brown sugar to ½ a cup since the chocolate chips and raisins add sweetness to the recipe that you’ll be missing.)
Pre-heat oven to 350F. Line a 8 inch square or round baking pan with parchment paper. (Tip: With a pencil, trace the bottom of the pan on the parchment paper, cut, then place the parchment paper pencil side down in the pan. It’s ok if some of the paper goes slightly up the sides of the pan.)
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream the brown sugar and peanut butter together by mixing on medium-high for about 3-4 minutes. The mixture will be moist and dense. Add the vanilla and mix for another minute.
Add the flour, oats, baking soda and salt and mix on medium speed until the ingredients are well-mixed. It will look dry and crumbly.
While the mixer is on medium, slowly add the milk in a steady stream and continue mixing until the dough starts to come together and forms small pea or pebble-sized pieces.
Mix in the chocolate chips and/or raisins if using. Now, with clean hands get in there and mix the dough together a teensy bit with your hands. Don’t worry if it is still very crumbly and doesn’t quite come together. Just press the mixture gently into the baking pan with your fingers.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the house smells of warm peanut butter. (There’s a Yankee Candle flavor that can come of this!) Cool completely on a wire rack, cut, and serve!