Here we are, halfway through the school year, and this is where things in the food department tend to grind to a crawl- if not an all out halt. I don’t know about you and yours, but in my house weekday breakfasts and lunches are getting to be an unpleasant chore. I ask the kids what they want and the answer is usually the same: “I don’t know”.  What started out with good intentions of fresh, homemade meals somehow devolved into cold cereal and the same sandwich every single day. Frankly, I’m as sick of dishing it as the kids are of eating it. So I did what I always do: I hit up my recipe sites and cookbooks. What I found was a small stash of good ideas that I can integrate into our food routine and at least get through the rest of the school year. This recipe for breakfast oat bars is one of the little nuggets of delishness I found.

**I did it again: I went my merry way, happily baking these bars, and forgot to take pictures. My mind is in a thousand different places right now, so please forgive me! I’ll do better next time 🙂 ** 

The original recipe called for bananas as the fruit. I’ve found that I can use not only bananas, but also applesauce (homemade works like magic!), or pumpkin. This batch is a mixture of applesauce and banana and it’s fantastic! These bars are also super cheap to make since they use basic ingredients. If you’re like me and buy in bulk, the cost is even less still. I double the recipe to fill a 13×9 inch pan because there’s 6 of us in our house currently, so making a single batch would be kind of pointless.

All you need is oats, flour, an egg, baking soda, salt, fruit puree, oil, and vanilla. You can also add in a few other fun things like nuts, chocolate chips (whichever flavor strikes your fancy), cinnamon chips, caramel bits… whatever you like! Just don’t go overboard; the bars won’t hold together if you add too much of your mix-ins. Combine the dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls, mix it all together, put it in the pan, and bake. That’s it! You could even make this first thing in the morning, bake it while the kids are getting ready, and give them a serving fresh out of the oven for breakfast. To be honest, I have no idea how long these bars will last in a container; they’re gone within 2 days and I have to make a new batch. They’re just that good!

One of the great things about these bars is that, while they aren’t as sturdy as store bought oatmeal bars, they can still be wrapped up and tucked into a backpack or purse for an on the go snack or meal. I made these bars more meal sized, but you can certainly cut them smaller to make a great snack. These also freeze super well, so you can make a huge batch and have a stash for mornings you just can’t stand the thought of yet another bowl of cereal 🙂

The Recipe:

2 Ripe Bananas, Mashed (or whatever kind of fruit puree you like)

1/4 C Oil (Use what you like)

1 Egg

1 t Vanilla Extract

1/2 t Salt

1/2 t Baking Soda

1/2 C Flour

1 C Old Fashioned Oats (NOT quick cooking)

Up to 3/4 C Mix-ins

The Method:

*Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

*Spray an 8×8 inch baking pan with cooking spray or line with foil and then spray the pan.

*Combine all dry ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl.

*Whisk the fruit in with the other wet ingredients and add to the dry mixture.

*Mix until all the dry ingredients are incorporated, then spread into the prepared baking dish.

*Bake 18-22 minutes, or until the middle is set and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

*Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack until completely cooled. If aluminum foil was not used, slide a knife around the outer edges of the bars, invert the baking pan onto cooling rack, and let gravity do its job. Then remove the pan and let the bars cool completely.

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