These strawberry banana oat bars are naturally sweetened and made with healthy ingredients like oats, bananas, strawberries, and maple syrup. They make a delicious gluten-free and vegan breakfast or snack.
One of the best things about going back to update old recipes is getting to make the ones that I loved and forgot about.
See, the downside of food blogging is that once I’ve tested and posted a recipe, I usually don’t get to make it again because I constantly have to come up with and test new recipes. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, but outside of a few staple recipes that I make regularly, there are a lot that I forget about.
Like these strawberry banana oat bars, for example. I don’t think I’ve made them since I originally posted them in 2015. And that’s crazy because they’re freaking delicious!
I mean, just look at them…
And if that’s not convincing, here are some of the things I had to say about them in my original post:
You guys. You guys. We need to talk about these bars, because they seriously
knockedblew my socks right off. Or at least they would have if I was wearing any socks. I mean, I expected to like them, but not to the point where I was saying: “Holy snap.“ BITE. “These may just be…“ BITE. “The best oatmeal bars…” BITE. “I’ve ever had.” BITE. But it’s true!
I wanted a really simple oatmeal base that was healthy enough to eat for breakfast but didn’t taste overly healthy, you know? None of that dry and bland nonsense. My bars needed to be: soft, tender, chewy, doughy, and plenty flavourful. And oh.man were they ever…
Fast forward 5 years and I had the same.exact.reaction. I took a bite, expecting to like it, but it seriously blew me away to the point where I think only 2 bars survived that first day. In my defence, the boy helped. A little.
So let’s make some bars.
How To Make Chia Seed Jam
I know that making your own jam might seem like an unnecessary additional step, but I promise you that it’s so worth it. Not only is it super easy to do, but you get a fresh homemade jam that’s 100% naturally sweetened. Oh, and a nice little boost of plant-based protein, fibre, and omega-3’s from the chia seeds.
So let’s jam:
- I like to make the jam the night before or the morning of the day I plan to make these bars and let it sit for a while. That way it has time to thicken up.
- Start by adding the berries and maple syrup to a medium saucepan set over medium heat and let them cook until they start to release their juices. This will take anywhere from 5 – 15 minutes depending on how frozen the berries were.
- Once things look all juicy, allow the berries to come to a gentle boil and continue to cook them for about 10 minutes until they start to reduce and thicken. At this point, use a spoon or a potato masher (preferred) to break the berries apart.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low and stir in the chia seeds (these help thicken things up even more). Let the jam cook for another 5 minutes before removing it from the heat and letting it sit.
- It will continue to thicken the longer it sits and should have the consistency of a regular jam – spreadable without being liquidy.
And I promise you it’s not at all complicated. I know it looks like a lot of steps, but really you’re just cooking the berries until they reduce and then stirring in some chia seeds to get a more jam-my consistency.
That being said, if you don’t have the time or ingredients on hand to make your own jam, yo can definitely use a store-bought jam.
How To Make Strawberry Banana Oat Bars
Okay. Now that you’ve got the jam ready to go, it’s time to make some bars.
- The original recipe had you grinding half the oats into oat flour, but I updated it to include both oats and pre-ground oat flour just to make things easier. That being said, if you don’t have any oat flour on hand, toss 1 cup (80 g) of oats into a blender and process them on high until they resemble a fine flour.
- Combine the dry ingredients (oats, oat flour, baking powder, and salt) in a large mixing bowl first, and then add in the mashed bananas, maple syrup, and vanilla. Stir, stir, stir, done. See? Easy peasy.
Now to assemble:
- Reserve about a half a cup of the dough to use as the top layer of the bars. Transfer the rest of it into your prepared baking pan and use a spatula to spread it out evenly.
- Spoon the chia jam onto the oat base and use your spatula to spread it out evenly. Try to leave a small bit of room around the edges to keep the jam from burning.
- Now drop the remaining dough on top of the jam in small spoonfuls and use your spoon to spread them out and swirl them around a little. You don’t have to cover the jam completely – I always like to leave gaps so the jam can poke through.
- 30 minutes of baking time yields soft and chewy bars, but you can leave them in the oven for longer if you want slightly drier bars.
- These bars never last that long around here, but I recommend storing them in the fridge if they’re sitting for more than 4 days.
Okay, But What Are They Like?
Soft, tender, fruity, sweet, and packed with strawberry + banana flavour.
These are softer and chewier bars, so if you’re looking for something that’s drier or crunchier, this might not be the recipe for you. But if you want a really tender, fruity bar, I think you’ll love these.
They’re gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free, and super easy to make. The crust is literally just oats + bananas plus a little bit of maple syrup for extra sweetness, and I think the simplicity of the ingredients is what makes them so surprisingly delicious. And healthy. I mean, you’re basically eating a bowl of oatmeal in bar form.
If you’re not big on strawberries or don’t have them on hand, feel free to use a different berry. And if you don’t have the time or ingredients to make your own jam, make it even simpler by subbing out a store-bought jam.
I’d love to know if you make this recipe! Leave a comment and rating down below to let me know what you think, and subscribe to our mailing list to receive new recipes in your inbox!Print
For the strawberry chia jam:
- 2 cups (280 g) frozen strawberries*
- 2 Tbsp (30 ml) maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp (14 g) chia seeds
For the banana oat bars:
Make the jam:
- Add the strawberries and maple syrup to a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Heat until the berries begin to release their juices, about 5-15 minutes depending on whether or not they were thawed. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally, until the berries begin to reduce and thicken, about 5 -10 minutes. Use your spoon or a potato masher to break them apart further.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low and stir in the chia seeds. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the jam to cool. It will continue to thicken the longer it sits.
Make the bars:
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and prepare an 8 x 8 (20 x 20 cm) baking pan by lining it with a sheet of parchment paper, leaving a few inches of overhang on the sides to allow for easy removal. Set aside.
- Combine the oats, oat flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the mashed bananas, maple syrup, and vanilla extract, and mix until everything is well combined and a dough is formed.
- Transfer 3/4 of the mixture into your prepared baking pan, using a spatula to ensure that it is evenly spread. Spoon the chia jam over the surface, and use a spatula or knife to spread it evenly, making sure to lave some space around the edges to prevent the jam from burning. Drop the remaining oat mixture on top, using a spoon to spread it around and swirl it into the jam a little.
- Bake for 30 – 35 minutes until the top turns a light golden brown. Remove the bars from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store the bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Or in the fridge if the weather is warmer.
* You can sub out the strawberries for another type of berry. Or use 3/4 cup store-bought jam if you don’t want to make your own.
** If you don’t have any oat flour on hand, toss 1 cup (80 g) of oats into a blender and process them on high until they resemble a fine flour.
Keywords: gluten-free oat bars, strawberry banana oat bars, strawberry chia seed jam, strawberry oat bars, vegan oat bars
Post originally published in April 2015. Text and images updated in May 2020.
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