I like to cook (a lot), but I love to bake. It’s true that I have an affinity for carbs in all forms, being able to whip up breads, cookies, and such is not the only reason I prefer baking. My perfectionist leanings thrive within the confines of a recipe. Where cooking is Picasso, baking is paint-by-numbers.
I like paint-by-numbers. Which is why I rarely deviate from a recipe. But some recipes just cry out to be adapted and made multiple different ways. I felt that way with homemade Clif Bars. Even though I only posted the Cinnamon Golden Raisin variety, I never made them the same way twice. There was a Chocolate Chip Coconut and a Trail Mix version, too.
These Oat Bars are the same way. I found the recipe on Pinterest, made it as per the recipe once, and then kept thinking of different flavor ideas.
The bones of these oat bars are a nutrient rich combination of rolled oats, whole wheat flour, and milk (of any sort). The need for butter in the original is eliminated by using unsweetened applesauce. They are sweetened with honey, making them perfect for No Sugar September and why I even found the recipe in the first place.
So, the Carrot Cake version? I had a ton of leftover carrot puree from stockpiling James’ baby food and wondered if it would be an acceptable substitute for the unsweetened applesauce in the oat bars. The idea snowballed from there…
Sidenote: Carrot puree is super easy to make (peel, chop, and boil two large carrots and then blend in a food processor), but I’d imagine canned pumpkin would be a great substitute in this recipe.
My mind immediately went to carrot cake (because I’ve been sugar deprived, perhaps?) and I played off the flavors and mix-ins that are traditionally found in carrot cake – cinnamon, nuts, and raisins. Now that I think of it, crushed pineapple would be a tasty addition, too, but that’s getting into Hummingbird territory and we can’t mix cakes now can we.
The end result of all this carrot oatiness is a dense, filling bar that is perfect to pack in a lunch, tuck in a carry on, or nibble on throughout the day. I’ve enjoyed mine with a slice of cheese or scoop of apple butter and a glass of milk. Tim takes them to work for an afternoon snack. They’d be amazing for a newly nursing mom who is in that eat everything, always hungry stage.
If you were wanting to make these a little desserty and still keep them refined sugar free, blend cream cheese and maple syrup together to spread on top and cut into squares.
And because I kept thinking of ways to adapt the original, I’ve got a Chocolate Peanut Butter version coming atcha soon. In the meantime, enjoy some Carrot Cake!
- 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 1/2 cups milk (any variety)
- 1/2 cup carrot puree
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Lightly coat an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large bowl, stir together oats, WW flour, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, baking powder, salt, walnuts, and raisins. (Be sure to separate the raisins to avoid gross raisin clumps in your bars.)
- In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk milk, carrot puree, honey, egg, and vanilla until the honey is melted and all the ingredients are combined. It will be a lovely shade of peach!
- Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
- Put batter in prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool and cut into bars.