Yesterday marked the first official day of summer. It's felt like summer in California for at least a couple months, so not much has changed around here. Actually, come to think of it, growing up in California has really messed up my entire perception of seasons. Summer feels like it lasts from March to October, Fall lasts from October to December, winter from January to February and spring? hmmm, Sacramento sees small pockets of spring weather tucked somewhere between winter and summer, but this usually only lasts a few weeks. Each and every year I actually find myself asking, when does summer (or fall, or winter or spring) start?
As a result, I've been living in summer for months already. I can't complain, the sunshine, even the hottest sunshine, makes me very very happy.
One BIG change I have seen with the onset of summer, however, is a decrease in fruit prices. You guys, fruit is officially IN SEASON (cue happy dance)! Last summer I went crazy for cantaloupe and grapes, this summer I'm thinking it will be berries. All the berries. And, since my child practically inhales berries, I welcome the reduced prices of organic berries with open arms. No, seriously, I did the math one month- Octavian ate more than $100 worth of organic blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.
With all this delicious, in-season and well priced fruit just waiting to be eaten, bars needed to be made. But, I wanted a healthier bar this time. I wanted something that would be delicious eaten as a dessert, snack, or even breakfast.
Mostly, I really just wanted to make a surprise for Octavian since I never allow him to eat cake and ice cream and candy. So, I made my poor sugar-deprived child Strawberry Oat Bars with Strawberry Chia Jam.
I should have made two pans.
You guys, these bars were eaten so fast, I wonder if my child and husband's brain actually registered what they were eating. Octavian was so excited when I gave him his very own piece of dessert that he literally could not contain his excitement (I usually wait to eat my towering bowls of ice cream after Octavian goes to sleep).
Loaded with oats, chia seeds and homemade strawberry chia jam with fresh strawberries, these bars are both healthy and super easy to make!
Healthy Strawberry Oat Bars with Strawberry Chia Jam
2 cups regular oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 chia egg (1 tablespoon chia seeds + 4 tablespoons warm water, mixed)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons almond milk (or milk of choice)
1 tablespoon coconut flakes (for topping)
1.5-2 cups homemade strawberry chia jam
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a square (9x9) pan with parchment paper and spray the sides and bottom with non-stick spray (these two steps help insure that the bars will be easy to remove from the pan).
Prepare the Homemade Strawberry Chia Jam (it's so easy!) or use your favorite store-bought version. Once finished, set aside to cool.
To prepare the oat base and crumble topping, first prepare the flax egg. In a small bowl mix 1 tablespoon chia seeds with 4 tablespoons warm water and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients for the oat base: oats, all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon and brown sugar. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil, melted butter, maple syrup, almond milk and chia egg until fully combined. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix well (I had to use my hands). Set aside 3/4 cup of the dough for for topping.
Grab your prepared pan and pour the oat mixture into the pan. Gently smooth out oat mixture and press down with fingers (if you have a pastry roller, use it) so that it is in an even flat layer on the bottom of the pan. Pour on Strawberry Chia jam and smooth out with a spoon. Finally, sprinkle on the remaining 3/4 cup oat mixture over the top of the jam and 1 tablespoon of coconut flakes.
Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. Remove and allow bars to cook for at least 30 minutes before serving (I stored mine in the refrigerator for a few hours before digging in. I prefer my fruit desserts cold).