Banana Oat Bars

I always have granola bars around me – I keep one in my purse, my backpack, my car, my gym bag.  They are my go-to snack for when I’ve forgotten to eat or need a quick burst of energy or sugar before or after a workout (if I don’t have fruit).  I have tried many different brands and flavors but ultimately hate that they’re expensive and come with so much packaging.

So today I began experimenting with making my own granola bars when I found this recipe for 4-Ingredient Oat Bars on The Kitchn (such a great resource if you haven’t checked it out before).

These are quick and easy and you probably have all the ingredients already.  I had five overripe bananas in the fridge that have been waiting to be incorporated into something delicious and a Mason jar full of oats in the pantry.  I added some shredded unsweetened coconut as well to give them a little more sweetness and chewiness.  Delicious and so easy!

4-Ingredient Banana Oat Bars (With Options!)
Makes one 9×9-inch pan (12 bars)

2 large, very ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional – I used vanilla made by a friend!)
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional – I used medium ground sea salt)
1/4 cup pitted, chopped dried dates
1/4 cup chopped nuts — such as walnuts, hazelnuts or pecans (I used hazelnuts)
1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional)
Grated nutmeg or cinnamon (optional) (I used nutmeg)

Heat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9×9-inch square baking dish with olive oil or butter.

Peel the bananas and mash their flesh in a medium mixing bowl. Mash very thoroughly until no large chunks remain; the bananas should be essentially liquid. (You will have between 1 cup and 1 1/4 cup.) Stir in the vanilla, if using. Add the oats and stir them in. Stir in the salt, dates, and nuts.

Pat the thick mixture evenly into the baking pan. If desired, sprinkle the top lightly with nutmeg or cinnamon. Bake for 30 minutes or unti the edges just begin to crisp up.

Place the baking pan on a rack to cool.  When the pan is mostly cool, cut into 12 bars.

Nutritional info:

100 calories per bar
2.5 g fat
2.6 g fiber
2.2 g protein