Sunflower, Oat and Walnut Bars

Big weekend for the fam, as Tess got dedicated at our church! Back to my parent’s house for brunch with family and close friends – always fun to have a menu to plan! We had two egg casseroles, cream cheese glazed cinnamon buns, cranberry white chocolate biscotti, fruit, and Greek yogurt set already, but I felt like there was something missing. The egg dishes were healthy, as was the fruit and yogurt. The rolls were decidedly UNhealthy, as were these particular biscotti. I needed something on middle ground – an easy to grab, easy to make, tasty and mostly healthy side dish.

I found these “bar cookies” in the cookie section of my Bon Appetit cook book, but I was surprised at how healthy the ingredients were. In the description it said that they’d be a great quick breakfast option with fruit and a glass of milk (or latte!). I found them so interesting, I had to try them! Well, when the first go-around of diners went through, only one bar was taken – clearly they won’t win a beauty contest. However, by the end of the feast they were all gone! I had to food bully a few people into trying them and stare deeply into my friend Susan’s eyes as I told her sincerely that they contained no fruit – she ended up being the biggest fan! If they pass the Susan test, you know you’ve got something good. The bars are less dense than the look, and very moist with a slight chewiness. The flavor is deep, nutty, and sweet. Love!

Rye flour has less of an effect on blood sugar than even whole wheat flour, so it’s a great grain to eat early in the day for sustained energy. Walnuts are pretty much amazing for you, full of omega 3’s. The seeds and canola oil are other sources of healthy fats for energy and satiety. Admittedly, there is a good deal of sugar (albeit, brown, which is really just white sugar with molasses mixed in). If you wanted to cut the sugar back to 3/4 c. or even 1/2, give it a try – and let me know!

Such an easy throw-together recipe that I didn’t take how-to pictures (also my battery had died). A great mid-morning snack for you or your kids!

Sunflower, Oat, and Walnut Bars

Makes 16

Adapted from Bon Appetit

1/2 c. rye flour (or whole wheat flour)

1/2 c. oats (quick or old fashioned)

1/2 c. chopped walnuts

1/4 c. raw sunflower seeds (or roasted – no salt)

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 c. (packed) brown sugar (light or dark will work)

2 eggs

1/3 c. canola oil

1 tsp. vanilla

Powdered sugar, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8×8 baking pan with nonstick spray.

2. Stir flour, oats, walnuts, sunflower seeds, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.

3. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth, about 3 minutes.

4. Gradually add flour mixture, stirring until combined.

5. Transfer batter to baking dish and spread evenly.

6. Bake for 30 minutes or until top is brown and cookie is set in the middle.

7. Let cool completely in pan and then cut into 16 bars. To improve the looks of this homely bar cookie, dust with powdered sugar and serve.

*This cookie would be excellent wrapped individually or in sets of two and frozen – thaw in fridge as needed and eat for an afternoon snack or breakfast with a banana and a glass of skim milk.

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