Oatmeal Fig Bars
Raise your hand if you’re a Fig Newton fan!
I know I am. Or at least I was when I was young enough to shove four in my face without thinking twice about the ingredient label on the back.
But now that I’m old and consequently a health-obsessed foodie/freak, I try to avoid Fig Newtons like the plague. That is until Brandon brought a half-eaten package home from when he was away traveling for work. I lectured him about the “crap” they put in them and then scarfed down a few when he wasn’t looking. What can I say, we all have our weaknesses.
In his defense, they were Whole Foods brand Fig Newtons…which technically means they’re not Fig Newtons but you know what I mean. They’re marginally better but they’re still made with enriched flour and too much refined sugar.
Anyway, he renewed my childhood desire for the fig cookie which forced me to recreate my own healthy version. And make them vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar-free because that’s how I <attempt to> roll.
Oh, and I’m so excited to tell you about the ingredients! Okay, mostly just the ground chia seed that I used in place of egg.
You guys, am I late to the ground chia seed party?
I’ve used chia seeds as a binder in the past but I never got used to the crunchy texture of the little seeds so this is the perfect solution for me. I’ve also heard that you can make your own with a coffee grinder but I was worried that would make it taste like coffee so I just bought some already ground.
Other than the ground chia, the bars are made with oat flour, rolled oats, and chopped walnuts for lots of healthy fiber, omega fatty acids, and protein. The filling is also surprisingly simple: dried figs, a little bit of honey (or maple syrup/agave for vegans) and a touch of orange zest for a light sweetness that still lets the classic fig flavor shine through.
I will admit that making the fig filling is a sticky process but the end result means less sugar and no preservatives which to me, makes it worthwhile.
Plus it always feels good to say you made something from scratch.
I actually made them twice in one week, which says a lot because I usually run from any recipe that requires extra work and fails. But they tasted great and I knew if I stuck with it one more time that I could get the texture right too.
The end result was incredibly hearty and satisfying. It’s honestly hard to believe that they’re full of healthy ingredients but I would pick these over real Fig Newtons any day.
If you’re looking for a healthy snack or breakfast to have on hand then I highly suggest giving these a whirl. I’m sure you’ll love them as much as we did!
2 cups oat flour*
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional/sub 1/4 cup oats)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground chia seed
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup honey (or agave or maple syrup for vegan version)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
2 cups dried figs
3/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup honey (or agave or maple syrup for vegan)
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
- Cut off the stems of the dried figs and place them into a saucepan along with the cold water. Allow the figs to soak for 15 minutes and then add the honey, salt, and orange zest. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool for about 15 minutes and then transfer to a food processor to puree into a paste.
- Next preheat the oven to 350°F and then line a 9 x 9” square baking dish with parchment paper. Combine the dry ingredients (oat flour, oats, walnuts, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and ground chia seed) in a bowl and then set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, combine the wet ingredients (honey, vanilla extract, apple sauce and coconut oil) and stir together. Add the dry ingredients to wet and stir until just combined.
- Spoon half of the batter into the lined baking dish and press it firmly to form a base layer. The dough will be sticky- using another layer of parchment paper to press down with will help to keep it from sticking to your hands. Next, scoop out the fig paste from the processor and press it into a thin layer using your hands. Lay it on top of the base layer in the baking dish and press until it forms a smooth middle layer. Lastly spoon the rest of the oatmeal batter on top and smooth down as evenly as possible.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the edges are light golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for several hours. This will assure they hold together properly. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
*You can make your own oat flour by grinding 2 cups oats Be sure to use certified gluten-free products for allergies