By Nichole Banducci
In honor of Strawberry Festival, I wanted to share my favorite strawberry-filled baked treat.
Rolled oats, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, strawberries, chia seeds, and lemon juice are the main heroes that make these bars delectable.
The cool part is you can substitute your preferred flour, sugar, butter, or fruit filling to meet your family’s specific tastes or nutritional needs.
The “bar” part of the recipe comes together in just one bowl. It is then divided into an 8 x 8 baking pan, with jam as the middle layer. Pressing hard on the bottom layer gives it a good chewy crunch, while a lighter touch on the topping provides crumbly goodness.
My family loves this recipe using a strawberry chia jam. I feel good knowing that it reduces the total sugar, while adding extra fiber and protein.
Speaking of sugar … you can cut to ¾ cup of brown sugar or replace with coconut sugar without changing the results. However, any less sugar gives you a dryer, reduced-flavor bar. (One overly dry batch with ¼ cup brown sugar became my breakfast “cereal”).
Want to simplify the recipe even further? Simply pop-open a jar of your favorite jam instead of making something from scratch.
• 8 tbsp salted butter, softened
• 2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
• 1 cup whole wheat flour
• 1 cup brown sugar (pressed)
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 2 cups frozen or fresh strawberries
• 2 tbsp chia seeds
• 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Prepare an 8 x 8 baking dish with either parchment or non-stick spray/butter
- In a large bowl, mix the butter, oats, flour, brown sugar, and baking powder. Once incorporated, the ingredients will be crumbly and slightly moist
- Spoon just over half of the mixture into the 8 x 8 pan and press down firmly
- Spread 1 cup (8 oz) of strawberry jam over the pressed bar base
- Sprinkle remaining mixture from the bowl over the jam layer; press down lightly, but don’t push through to the jam layer
- Bake for 35 minutes
- Remove and let cool about 15 minutes before cutting into 2-inch squares
- Put strawberries in a saucepan over medium heat
- Soften for about 5 minutes, then smash with a potato masher or wooden spoon
- Once the mashed strawberries reach your desired consistency and begin to bubble, remove from heat
- Stir in chia seeds and lemon juice
- Cool for about 30 minutes. The chia seeds will thicken the strawberries and create a jam-like consistency.