Wholesome PB & J Bars
It's May Day tomorrow, which makes me about a month late. Meaning, I missed out on sharing these for National PB & J Day April 2nd. Then again, while I may not blasted any well wishes for the occasion on social media or otherwise, I'm pretty sure I celebrated, possibly too heartily.
Preceding National PB & J Day, National Peanut Butter Lovers' Day took place March 1st this year. I'm awfully certain I subconsciously celebrated that one, too. Since I've known him, Dave has always marveled at Americans' love for peanut butter. I can't say I know where that stereotype came from, but I do know I've only reinforced it. Lately though, peanut butter love has been markedly full-blown. I've been craving it on celery, on apple slices, in oatmeal, and straight from the jar. In fact, those first three may really be mostly compromise to keep the urge to indulge in that last one at bay.
There are always food phases that come and go, mostly with the seasons, and holidays. Like right now, when we're all easing out weekly soup nights and transitioning to staple salad dinners. And who doesn't swoon a little bit at the heady scent of a pumpkin spice latte in October? But peanut butter...really I've been a little crazy (ok, nutty) for all nuts recently, and I think that's an offshoot of experimental vegan purity for the past month or so. Except for honey, which is still a weekly feature including in this recipe, I've been much more strict, and it feels good. I don't really have any way to measure any impact nor a baseline to compare. Our scale is broken, and I wasn't feeling bad/excessively tired without explanation/grumpy before. I can't say I'm gliding on new enriched energy, but I definitely don't feel worse; I felt good before this trial and I still do. Mentally and emotionally, though, it does feel gratifying to do something delicious that happens to reduce my carbon footprint compassionately.
As for these bars: they are everything they should be. Chewy and jammy centers, and crumbly and nutty all around. They'd be great actually crumbled, in fact--over oatmeal or (vegan) ice cream. This recipe has a whole lot of "ORs" in it. Like, 3 cups quinoa flakes OR 1 1/2 cups oats with 1 1/2 cups quinoa flakes OR 3 cups oats. You can get away with 2 T honey OR 1/4 cup honey OR even no honey OR maple syrup.Originally I made these for Ancient Harvest, using quinoa flakes only instead of oats, and 2 eggs. I can say I think I do prefer the egg-less version, and using Bob's Red Mill egg replacer over flax eggs. Since my little sis gave me a bag as a stocking stuffer, I really have become very fond of that pea protein concoction. Overall, however, you really can't go too very far astray when it comes to what is basically a just crunchy ball of peanut butter and jam.
Obviously, a recipe is always a guide and all those options are to be intuited or inferred, but in this case I've tried each little variation and approve so well I couldn't cut back. Because, nuttiness lately...tell me what you change...or even would like to try out one day. I can promise there is a very good chance I will test the idea out for you. ;)
PB&J Bars (GF, Dairy-free)
- 1 1/2 cups quick oats
- 1 1/2 cups quinoa flakes
- 1 cup natural creamy peanut butter
- 2 tablesoons Bob's Red Mill egg replacer mixed in 4 T water OR 2 flax eggs OR 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons OR ¼ cup honey
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt (unless using salted peanut butter)
- ⅔ cup fruit only jam or jelly of choice
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl combine oats, quinoa flakes, peanut butter, egg substitute, baking soda, vanilla, and salt and mix well.
- Press a little over half of the batter into an 8 X 8 baking pan lightly coated with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. Use a rubber spatula to spread jam over mixture. (Soften jam as needed in a saucepan or microwave to help with spreading.) Crumble remaining mixture over jam layer as topping.
- Bake for 30 minutes, until topping is browned and jam layer is bubbly. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.