Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Strawberry Bars Forever

I often get asked how my husband and I stay in such great shape what with all the baking I regularly do. My secret is that much like a shark, I never stop moving. "But Kate, you're sitting down to blog right now," you say? I'm tapping my foot at about a 50 mile an hour rate. Like a bumblebee on crack, I fidget. I assume fidgeting, along with intense workouts and dogs that will riot if not walked, helps me stay in shape. I enjoy really rich desserts, but every once in a while, I just want something light and low-cal. But usually when I hear the words "healthy dessert," I either assume it's actually cardboard or that whoever is trying to pitch it lives in a magical fairy-tale land full of whimsy and is completely insane. But as it turns out, that magical fairy-tale land happened to look quite a bit like my own kitchen this week. And while I may be heavy on the crazy, I've been told I'm not certifiably insane, so just go with me on this. What if I told you that you could eat a warm, sweet, glazed dessert for under 250 calories, AND I promise it isn't cardboard? No gimmicks! I'm starting to feel a lot like a used car salesman though, so let me wrap up the pitch and show you the damn dessert already. The low-cal dessert of your sweet-tooth-loving dreams has arrived:
I'll take five.
Dripping, yes, dripping with vanilla glaze, these strawberry oat bars are next-level goodness. Very rarely does a person get to eat a delicious dessert and not hate themselves immediately following (this can't just be me, but I am crazy, so who knows). Upon consumption, you have to remind yourself that feeling like a worthless sack of empty calories with lost Olympiad dreams simply isn't necessary! What I also love in a dessert is when it can double as breakfast (I am but a simple human). I've shared the merits of breakfast pie and breakfast cake before, but this is actually an acceptable breakfast because it has oatmeal in it. Although I will always argue the line between pie and turnover is thin and should be crossed, oatmeal is pretty damn normal where breakfast is concerned. Think of this as fully-constructed overnight oats. Baked for your taste buds' pleasure.
I have so much leftover oatmeal. I guess I could eat it for breakfast...but bacon exists, so yeah...
If you're not totally sold on the idea of a healthy dessert that's actually delicious, one, you're really hard to please and I feel sorry for the people that love you, and two, what if I told you that you already have everything you need to make these in your kitchen? Because I did. And I go through strawberries like, well, someone who really likes strawberries. A lot. So give your pantry a peruse and gather up:
  • 1 cup Quaker Old Fashioned Oats (not the mushy quick-cook kind)
  • 3/4 cup All Purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 6-7 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 16 strawberries, diced into quarters
Start by preheating the oven to 375 and line an 8x8 round or square pan with Parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix the oats, flour, brown sugar, salt, and ginger together. Once combined, add in the melted butter and mix until all ingredients are damp. In a small, separate bowl, mix together the cornstarch, lemon juice, and sugar and set aside.
Press half of the crumb mixture into your prepared pan.
Top with the chopped strawberries. Then take the bowl of lemony sugar and pour over all the berries.

And finish off by sprinkling the rest of the crumb mix on top.
Bake for 40 minutes, until the top layer is golden brown and your house smells like brown sugar heaven. I was nearly drooling by the time these were done...Pavlov would've had a field day with me. Let cool on a rack for 10-20 minutes before placing (while still in the pan) into the fridge or freezer to fully cool and set. I placed into the freezer for a half an hour.
Which was really hard because, loooook at how yummy and golden.
I mean really, now you're just showing off, oat bars. You're not allowed to look as delicious and drool worthy as a cake.
Carefully, very, very carefully, remove your fully cooled strawberry oat bars from the pan (if you care about presentation). Clearly, I do because ugly photos means no likes on Facebook, and that makes me a sad panda. I found it best to take a sharp knife around the edge of the pan to separate any sticky areas, and then used the knife to lift out one corner so I could grab on to the Parchment paper and just slide it out on to a plate. It sounds complicated because it is. There was a lot of  low, hushed cursing at this point and prayers to several deities, but the dessert made it in one piece since it was a little frozen. Had I not needed presentation photos for some greedy jerks that read my blog...have I told you thanks for reading lately? My heart, much like my strawberry bars, is slightly frozen, so I'm not great with the gratitude.
Because without glaze, this is just breakfast food.
Glaze. There are few things in life that glaze can't make better. Bad day? Put some glaze on your pie. Put some glaze on your carrots. Put some glaze on your rolls. I'd put glaze on top of frosting if I wasn't positive it would give me diabetes. Simply gather up a small bowl, half a cup of powdered sugar, one teaspoon of vanilla extract, and one tablespoon of milk. Mix your ingredients together and get ready to drizzle, baby.
Pretty sure this is the definition of food porn.
At this point, you're ready to eat. Sliced into 8 larger bars, that's only 230 calories per bar. I know. Seems too good to be true. Certainly you're about to eat some cardboard with glaze on top of it. But on a scale of one to Ryan Lochte, I'm not even lying a little, not even lying a Lochte. Heat up your bar in the microwave so things are ooey gooey warm, and you will not be disappointed. The strawberry is a very versatile fruit. So versatile, in fact, you forget you're basically eating oatmeal for dessert because paired with the berries, glaze, and wonderful brown sugar, you've got guilt-free sweets for days! Or for a few days if you have to share...which is unfortunate. Because I promise you once you get a bite of these bars with their tart crunch and silky vanilla glaze, you're gonna want to keep these gems hidden. But I find if you tell people it's a low-cal, healthy dessert, they really do look at you like you're crazy and reach for the ice cream over your magical fantasy treat that only exists in fairy-tale land. They don't have to know it's real, but I can guarantee you one look at these bars and the only thing they won't believe is that they actually have redeeming nutritional value. But I'm okay with people thinking I'm insane if it means I get more dessert to myself. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!
It's...berry...delicious. Second blog in a row ended on a terrible pun. How oat-terly terrible.


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  2. Good vibes. Everyday, all day. God Bless :)


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