Last month when I met my family in South Carolina, I wanted to bring along some good plane snacks with some to share with my family too. I wanted them processed-sugar-free, portable, and hearty. And T had recently sent me This Recipe called Tropical Lemon Cranberry Coconut Chia Bars. Well, coconut oil, oats, nuts, dried fruit and lots of lemon just happened to be in my house already...it was our lucky day.
Through this recipe, I found out how cool chia seeds can be. I had heard of them and eaten them when I went to Bastyr. We used to recommend a breakfast blend of oats, chia seeds, flax seeds and dried fruit. But I haven't visited with them since then, and that was a while ago. As a bonus feature, they are a great source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. With this recipe, I found out that if you add lemon juice to chia seeds, it makes a sludge-like gel very similar to egg. So it turns out to be a great egg substitute for those of you who are allergic or egg avoidant.
The original recipe calls for dried cranberries, which make for a much prettier bar. I had dried apricots, which were good too...but I didn't have very many. So if you can, use the amount she suggests in the original recipe, which is 1/2 cup. Or try making a blend of cranberries and chopped apricots.
The dry ingredients were so colorful with the pistachios that I wanted to capture it. I really could hardly wait for the final product. I was measuring and whisking as fast as possible. All of my favorite ingredients all in one little bar was really getting my heart pumping.
So next time you are looking to make a great energy bar, plane snack, road trip treat or tart oatmeal macaroon...you know what to do.
Tart Lemon Coconut Oat Bars
Adapted from Oh She Glows Blog
Yields 16 squares
These lovely bars are so portable and freeze well. The lemon zest and juice provide quite a tart punch in the teeth with every bite. I was expecting them to be a little bit sweeter, so if you are looking for a sweeter bar, add a few more tablespoons of honey or maple syrup. But keep the amount the same if you really want to taste the lemon...it will give you a largely toothsome smile.
3 Tbsp chia seeds, ground or whole
6 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 cup oats, ground
1/2 cup oats (as is, not ground)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut + more for sprinkling
2 Tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp (or more) dried apricots, chopped
4 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8 or 9" square baking pan or spring form by lining it with parchment paper and set aside for later.
To simplify your kitchen experience, zest your lemons first. Put the zest in a little bowl or ramekin and set aside. If you want to grind the chia seeds, do so now. Then combine them with the 6 Tbsp of lemon juice in a small bowl. Let it rest so it can form a nice gel. This will act as an egg-like binder.
In a coffee grinder or food processor, grind the 1 1/2 cup oats. This is your oat flour. In a medium bowl, combine oat flour, oats, baking powder, salt, coconut, lemon zest, pistachios and apricots. Mix thoroughly.
In a medium, microwave safe bowl (preferably glass bowl), melt the coconut oil. Pour in the applesauce and honey. Whisk well. Add in the chia seed gel. Whisk again.
Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. It takes a little while for every little bit to get incorporated. Spread the batter into your prepared pan. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, spread it evenly throughout the pan. Sprinkle the top with the extra coconut.
Bake on a low oven rack (to avoid the top burning) for about 20 minutes or until the sides start to crispen and the center feels firm. Take out of oven and let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes for final setting. Transfer to a wire rack and let sit for 30 minutes. This is very difficult because you will want to sample immediately. So make yourself busy and distracted.
After 30 minutes, cut into 16 squares. If you have leftovers, wrap in little individual packages and freeze. They are great portable treats!