When I first learned that people skipped breakfast, I couldn’t wrap my head around that idea. What is better than a delicious meal early in the day, while the the action of the future 16 hours hovers quietly ahead, as though time is on pause? I used to read cookbooks over breakfast. These days, I’m more likely to be writing a blog post or catching up on emails (or, shamefully, washing last night’s dishes while I spoon cereal into my mouth).
Last year, though, I made a concessions to those of you who think of breakfast as a necessary evil, with these Oatmeal Chocolate-Chip Cookie Bars. I’d prefer to think that they were popular because they were an easy, make-ahead, on-the-go breakfast option–and not because they had the words “chocolate” and “cookie” in the title.
Since publishing those, I’ve had it in my head to develop a second version with a different set of flavors and add-ins. By the time I got around to baking them, I was deep into the creation of my eCookbook and had already decided that in addition to the baker’s dozen dairy-free desserts, I’d be including two yummy, butter-free breakfast treats. And so, into the book went Toasted Oatmeal & Apple Breakfast bars, a recipe I adore because of the fragrant nutty oats, rich sunflower butter, minced pieces of sweet apple, and aromatic cinnamon.
But I felt like I couldn’t deprive the blog of these bars either, and so, silly as it may be to share something free that I really (really, really, really) hope you’ll invest in, the recipe is yours today. If you like it, I hope you’ll check out A Baker’s Dairy-Free Dozen too!
Toasted Oatmeal & Apple Breakfast Bars
Makes 16 bars
These are very close to baked oatmeal, which means they hit the perfect texture, flavor, and sweetness level for breakfast! This recipe is very flexible: switch in instant oats for old-fashioned, scoop any nut butter instead of the sunflower, and chop up whatever apple variety you please.
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sunflower butter (you can also use almond butter, for a slightly different flavor)
1/4 cup safflower oil, or other neutral oil, plus more for the pans
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I like Almond Breeze)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 medium apple, peeled, cored, and finely diced
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Oil two 4 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch loaf pans.
In a heavy pan, toast the oats over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes until very fragrant and slightly golden. Stir frequently for even toasting and to avoid burning. Transfer to a bowl. To the bowl with the toasted oats, add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In another, larger bowl, beat together the sunflower butter, oil, and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg. Then, carefully whisk in the milk so you don’t splatter. Stir in the vanilla. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and fold to combine. Stir in the diced apple and walnuts. Divide the batter between the two prepared pans.
Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden and pulling away from the sides of the pans. Using an offset spatula, loosen the bars from the pans and invert onto a rack to cool completely. When cool, cut each pan crosswise into 8 bars. Store in the fridge.