I’ve been recently shedding my self-perpetuated reputation as a non-baker. In fact, there were a few gluten-free experiments in the last few weeks that deserved some serious air fist-pumps of accomplishment—one of the best being these healthy oatmeal bars.
Since my mixing bowls need a little direction when it comes to the sweet stuff, I always have my eyes peeled for great recipes that can serve as my gluten-free GPS. And these pumpkin peanut butter oatmeal bars from my friend Erin have been on my mind since the holidays. So when a bunch of sad, browned bananas made the move to Brooklyn, I decided to give her recipe a try, swapping in some mashed ‘nanas for the pumpkin puree.
I’ll admit that choosing this as my first blog recipe in an unfamiliar space was a little intimidating. A baked good would have given me mild anxiety anyway. But in an unknown oven? And with a whole new world of light from my unwieldy floor-to-ceiling windows? I wasn’t sure whether the bars or the images of them would be a complete disaster.
It took a little tweaking on both fronts. My oven appears to run low, and my new source of natural light is very HIGH. (Fellow food photog nerds, I had to lower my ISO by 1000 from the brightest day at my old apartment…which is glorious, but will also take some getting used to.) Despite these factors, the bars turned out deliciously dense, moist and oat-y—kind of reminiscent of a healthy monkey bar. I.e. the kind of monkey bar you wouldn’t feel guilty about eating at 8am.
I decided to give the peanut butter banana batter a whirl in some mini muffin tins as well. For whatever reason, packing these little bites always seems easier than wrapping up a crumbly bar for brown bag purposes. They turned out excellent as well with roughly the same cook time, and I have been very grateful to them as on-the-go breakfasts, now that I have to commute across a bridge for most of my meetings.
Once it’s pumpkin puree season again, I’ll definitely be trying out Erin’s original recipe. But this banana version might just become my year-round gluten-free go-to while I work on earning other baking merit badges.
I hope you’ll bear with me on the photography front as it might take me just as long to learn to wrangle my new lighting situation as it did to get comfortable with gluten-free flour combinations. It’s a whole new world over here in Brooklyn!!!
From one healthy hedonist, to another,
Healthy Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Bars + Bites (Gluten-Free)
- 1 cup mashed over-ripe mashed banana from about 2 ½ bananas
- 1 cup almond milk I used vanilla
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
- ½ cup gluten-free oat flour see note
- 1 ¼ teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped dark chocolate or chips preferably 70 percent cacao
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8 inch baking pan or 2 mini muffin tins (I did one dozen mini muffins and made a half portion of bars in a loaf pan).
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the banana, almond milk, maple syrup, peanut butter and egg; whisk until smooth.
- In a second medium bowl, stir together the oats, oat flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt until well combined.
- Fold the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate. Transfer to the prepared pan(s). If using the muffin tins, add a scant tablespoon to each cup.
- Bake in the oven until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan.
- I like these best served warm. Otherwise, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week of easy breakfasts and snacking.
You can make your own oat flour by pulsing rolled oats in a food processor until finely ground into meal.