When hubby and I embarked on our vegetarian experiment a few months ago, I was absolutely amazed by the number of quality vegetarian and vegan blogs, recipes, and guides available on the web. Oh, about 15 years ago I'll go out on a limb and say that at least 20% of the population thought Vegans were part of a freaky New Age religion led by PeeWee Herman.
These days, fabulous blogs like the Veggiegirl and Susan's Fatfree Vegan Kitchen have been convincing carnivores like hubby and omnivores like me :) that there is life beyond meat. During our veggie days, I found a lot of inspiration from both those blogs, amazed at the delicious creations I thought vegans only pined for.
Though that part of our lives is over, I've had Susan's Blueberry Oat Bar recipe bookmarked, just waiting for the appearance of juicy and plump blueberries to show up in the markets. Mostly, I have been eager to answer life's most important question: can baked goods truly be delicious without eggs, butter, white sugar...or even flour for that matter? Though I attempt to curb my consumption of the aforementioned ingredients, to me they're the heart and soul of baked goods. Take them away and what are you left with?
Blueberry goodness, I guess. For starters, this recipe uses Agave Nectar Syrup, an all-natural sweetner. No high fructose corn syrup or refined sugars here! Rolled oats are blended into a fine powder and moistened with unsweetened apple sauce along with some other goodies. Fresh blueberries cook in an agave sweetened syrup that makes the house smell absurdly good.
I tried to stay as true as possible to Susan's recipe, lest I make anything un-vegan. I added extra cinnamon, lemon zest, a bit more agave nectar, and a sprinkling of brown sugar over the topping. Well, I managed to do all this and then bastardized half of the bars by throwing a few (non-vegan) white chocolate chips I found in the pantry. Oops. It was only half. Forgive me.
These bars were exceptionally good. I will admit that they do lack the crumbly, rich goodness of a butter based crumb. However, if you eat these without expectation of what the bars should taste like, they are marvelously delicious on their own. I've been eating them cold out of the refrigerator, and cannot believe how many I've already gone through. Yum! Thanks for the great & healthy recipe, Susan!
Original recipe here from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.
Lemony Blueberry Oat Bars
Adapted from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
1 pint fresh blueberries (I ended up adding about 1/4 cup more)
zest from one lemon
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup apple juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with enough water or juice to form a smooth paste
3 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsweetened applesauce
6 tablespoons (3/8 cup) agave nectar
6 tablespoons (3/8 cup) water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 375F. Grease an 8x8-inch baking dish.
1. In a small saucepan, combine the lemon zest, blueberries, agave nectar, and apple juice. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, add vanilla and cornstarch mixture, stirring until mixture returns to a boil and thickens. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Put 1 1/2 cups of the oats into a blender or food processor and grind to a medium fine powder (I kept mine with a little texture). Pour into a medium-sized mixing bowl and add the remaining oats, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Stir in the apple sauce, agave nectar, water, and vanilla, and mix well.
3. Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing well to cover the bottom of the pan. Spoon the blueberry filling over the batter, and spoon the remaining batter over the blueberries. Sprinkle with brown sugar and chocolate chips.
4. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Allow to cool before cutting into bars.