oatmeal jam bars

I went home to visit my parents for Easter, before heading to L.A. for a writers conference. The timing worked out great because I got to spend a couple extra days with my family before making the short drive to Los Angeles. As always, it was a relaxing time in my hometown… going out for breakfast with Dad, running errands with Mom, watching a few good movies, reading a ton, and catching up on some playtime with Mr. Mur-dog! I also got in some quality baking time, as I always love to do when I am on vacation. Baking is so relaxing and nourishing for me!

Ready to do some baking in my Easter outfit!

Ready to do some baking in my Easter outfit!

One of my favorite things to do is when I’m at my parents’ house is to rifle through their pantry for ingredients that need to be used up, and then find a way to plug these into a recipe. This visit, I made a batch of my beloved three-ingredient cookies, substituting granola for the oats. I also made some lemon bars for Gramps, who joined us for Easter dinner. Then I noticed that Mom had a soon-to-be-expiring jar of jam to use up, along with a ton of oats. So after some online searching, I tweaked a recipe I found to make some healthy oat jam bars using the ingredients at hand. I loved these for dessert… and they are still healthy enough to eat for breakfast, too! I also think these would be a great road trip snack or a healthy snack for kiddos. {You don’t need to tell your kids how healthy these are!} ūüėČ

In my own healthy living journey, I have been trying to eat fewer packaged and processed foods and to make more foods on my own. One thing I love about making my own food is that I know exactly what goes into it… and, in turn, exactly what is going into my belly. Also, baking takes way less time than I would have thought before I started doing it routinely. I typically like to bake on the weekends and enjoy treats most of the week! Baked-from-scratch goodness just feels fancier to me than store-bought treats. Many baked goods can easily be frozen for later, too, and then heated up in the microwave or toaster oven when you’re ready to eat ’em!

Another good thing about making your own snacks and breakfast foods and desserts, rather than buying them from the store? You save a lot of packaging waste, which really adds up over time in our landfills! AND you save money. It’s a win-win!

healthy easy oatmeal jam bars

{This recipe was adapted from this one by Diana at My Humble Kitchen.}

  • 1 & 1/2 cups whole wheat white flour
  • 1 & 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil¬†or butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup¬†agave
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup jam {I used raspberry}
  • 1 cup fresh berries
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a small glass baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, 1 cup of the oats, salt, cinnamon and baking soda.
  3. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the coconut oil or butter.
  4. Stir the melted coconut oil or butter, the honey, and the agave together. Add to the dry mixture.
  5. Transfer about 2/3 of the dough to the prepared baking pan. Pack the mixture down firmly.
  6. With a spoon, spread the jam evenly over the dough.
  7. Sprinkle the fresh berries throughout the jam layer.
  8. Top the berry-jam layer with the remaining 1/3 of the dough.
  9. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup of oats over the top, being careful to cover any bare areas where the jam is peeking through.
  10. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is golden brown. {Be careful not to over-bake — these burn easily!}

Note: Allow to cool completely before cutting.

oatmeal jam bars

Hope you enjoy! These make a wonderful breakfast, healthy dessert, or after-school snack!

if you liked this recipe you might also enjoy:
raspberry brown-butter bars
vegan healthier toffee bars
quinoa breakfast bars via The Lean Green Bean
homemade no-bake granola bars via PB Fingers

my favorite gluten-free baking supplies

Happy Thursday, everyone! Is it just me, or does today feel like Friday to anyone else? It’s bizarre that this week feels long because it’s actually been a short week with the holiday on Monday! Oh, well. It’s still been a good one!

As I shared a couple weeks ago, I’ve recently been trying to go gluten-free, and it actually hasn’t been nearly as difficult as I expected … I feel energized and vibrant, which could be because I’ve eliminated gluten or could simply be because I’m eating more fruit and veggies than ever! Either way, I’m loving it!

One of the things I was most concerned about in going gluten-free was that I would miss baking. You all know how I love to bake, and I was worried that eliminating regular baking flour would cause my baked goods to be … well, gross. But I needn’t have worried. Even if you aren’t gluten-free, there are some wonderful alternative flours you might want to try out just for the fun of it! Here are my current faves:

gluten free baking supplies edit

As far as baking styles go, I’m a by-the-seat-of-my-pants baker. A little bit of this, a little bit of that … I like to experiment! Typically, if a recipe calls for two cups of regular flour, I’ll add about a cup of gluten-free flour, 3/4 a cup of gluten-free oats, and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of other things!

1. Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour

gluten free flour

This is my favorite gluten-free flour base. It’s a mix of rice flour and tapioca flour, and it is a perfect substitute for all-purpose flour! I’ve also tried Bob’s Red Mill brand of gluten-free all-purpose flour, and that kind was good also, but I like this Trader Joe’s version better.

2. Gluten-Free Rolled Oats

oats

I love baking with oats! They make muffins and breads heartier and healthier. Plus I think they give baked goods a great texture. Just makes sure you purchase a gluten-free version of rolled oats, if gluten-free matters to you! {Sometimes wheat sneaks into things you wouldn’t expect…}

3. Almond Meal

almond meal

This an easy way to slip more heart-healthy almonds into your diet! An added bonus: almond meal makes baked goods extra moist. Just be careful not to add too much, or your finished product might be a little too crumbly.

4. Ground Flaxseed

ground flaxseed

I started adding a few tablespoons of ground flaxseed into my muffin and bread batter even before I went gluten-free. Flaxseed is packed full of omega-3s and fiber. I usually just add 1/4 a cup at most, so I can’t really taste it, but if you like a rich nutty flavor you can add more! You can also sprinkle ground flaxseed over your cereal or hot oatmeal for a morning nutritional boost.

oatmeal

So, there you have it: my current arsenal of favorite gluten-free baking products! Are any of you gluten-free bakers? I would love to hear your recommendations!

Have a wonderful day! Eat something yummy!

gluten-free oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies

I have an easy recipe to share with you today — another winning gluten-free cookie!

gf chocolate oatmeal cokies

– 1/4 cup butter
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 1/2 cup agave or maple syrup
– 3 cups gluten-free rolled oats
– 1 cup chocolate chips
– 2 eggs
– 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 1 cup peanut butter

for chocolate drizzle:
– 1/2 cup chocolate chips
– 2 tbsp butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, agave/maple syrup, and butter. Beat until creamy.

3. Add the eggs, vanilla, baking soda and baking powder and beat well.

4. Add peanut butter and mix.

5. Stir in oats, chocolate chips, and walnuts.

6. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto baking sheet and bake 10-12 minutes until lightly brown around edges.

7. To make chocolate drizzle: microwave chocolate chips and butter for 20 seconds. Stir until chocolate and butter and melted and well-combined, microwaving more if needed. {Be careful not to burn the chocolate!}

8. Once cookies are done, let them cool and then drizzle with melted chocolate.

Enjoy! I love these with a big glass of milk!