I’m so ready for summer. So ready. Not only could my skin use a little bit of sun so that I can stop giving Casper a run for his money in the paleness department, but my belly could use a little more variety in the fruit department as well.
Don’t get me wrong. I really do love bananas, oranges, apples, and grapes, but you can only eat so many of the same 4 winter fruits for so long before those fresh berries at the supermarket start looking mighty good.
I know I’m not the only one who finds herself standing in the produce section of the supermarket, clutching a tiny clamshell of fresh blueberries and trying to decide if I really want to spend an arm and a leg on something I can finish off in a single sitting and still crave more.
This is why I love frozen fruit. Not only is it available year round for a pretty decent price, but it also ends up being just as, if not more, tasty and nutritious than fresh fruit since it’s picked in its prime and flash frozen to retain the highest amount of flavor and vitamin content. That and it’s just straight up enjoyable to eat when it’s all cold and refreshing. Addicting, really.
No? Just me? No one else likes to snack on frozen fruit in the middle of winter and spend the next hour trying to stop shivering? Fine.
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But what about using frozen fruit to make your own jam and then using that jam to make your own fruit & oat bars that you can enjoy alongside a hot cup of coffee or tea? Now we’re talking…
If you’re anything like I was and think that making your own jam is some drawn out, complicated process, I can promise you that it couldn’t be simpler.
I’m someone who doesn’t love spending a tonne of time in the kitchen, so if I can do it [and enjoy it], then you can most definitely do it [and enjoy it]. The secret, in this case, is in the chia seeds…
I know they can be a bit bothersome when they decide to get stuck in your teeth and decide to ride around with you for the entire day without you noticing, but chia seeds are little miracle workers.
Not only are they little nutritional powerhouses, with plenty of plant-based protein, fiber, and omega-3’s, but the fact that they soak up liquid and become all gooey and gelatinous makes them perfect additions to things like fruit jams… which makes them perfect in things like fruit jam bars…
Welcome to my current obsession. I’ve made 4 batches of these bars with three different kinds of jams, and I have to say that the blueberry variation is my absolute favorite.
Maybe it’s because blueberries are one of my favorite fruits, or maybe it’s because the blueberry-banana combo is absolutely killer. Either way, I like these bars a whole heck of a lot. And even more so because they’re good for you without actually feeling good for you, ya know?
The secret is using super ripe bananas in the crust and topping. In addition to making these bars super soft and doughy, they also add that delicious banana flavor that goes perfectly with the blueberry jam.
And they take away the need for eggs and oil, which makes these bars low in fat, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and vegan. Perfect for those who suffer from food intolerances, or for anyone who loves delicious healthy snacks.
- 2 cups frozen blueberries
- 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp. chia seeds
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 cups rolled oats, divided
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 2 large ripe bananas, mashed (~1 cup)
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Add blueberries and maple syrup to a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Heat until the berries begin to release their liquid, about 5-15 minutes depending on whether or not they were thawed first. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until berries begin to break down and thicken, about 5 -10 minutes. Use your spoon or a potato masher to break them apart further if desired.
- Stir in the chia seeds and vanilla, continuing to cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the jam to cool. It will continue to thicken the longer it sits, which is why I usually like to make it the night before I'm planning on making these bars.
- Preheat oven to 375F and prepare an 8x8 baking dish by lining it with a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment paper, leaving a few inches of overhang on the sides to allow for easy removal. Spray foil with cooking spray and set aside.
- Place 1 cup of oats in a food processor or blender, and process until they resemble a fine flour. Transfer the oat flour to a large mixing bowl, and add the remaining rolled oats and baking powder, mixing well.
- Add the mashed bananas, maple syrup, and vanilla extract, and mix until everything is well combined and a dough is formed.
- Transfer ⅔ of the mixture into your prepared baking pan, using your fingers or a spatula to ensure that it is pressed down tightly and evenly. Spoon chia jam over the surface, and use a spatula or knife to spread it evenly, making sure to only go within ¼ of the edge to prevent the jam from burning. Sprinkle remaining oat mixture on top, breaking up bigger chunks and pressing down lightly.
- Bake for 30 minutes until the top turns a light golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to fully cool in pan before cutting into bars.