This healthy breakfast bars recipe is made with whole grain oats and oat flour, and plain yogurt. The perfect grab-and-go recipe for busy weekday mornings and they taste just like Nutri-Grain bars!
These bars certainly aren't sugar-free, and they have more than just whole grain oats and oat flour, but it can be so fun for a gluten free family (or just a gluten free child—or adult!) to eat what “everyone else” can have. The crust on these bars is perfectly tender and chewy, and only lightly sweet, so the strawberry filling seems just right.
Don't worry that there are more than a couple of ingredient in this recipe! You make the simple crust all in one bowl, then roll out the dough, cut it into 4-inch squares and fill them with some preserves.
Breakfast to go
I have about 1000 recipes for granola bars and energy bites here on the blog. All 3 of my kids (and my husband and I) love the taste, texture and chew of oats (yes, they're gluten free, but you can also replace them in baking!). And they're a great source of energy, protein, you name it.
But sitting down to a nice hot bowl of oatmeal isn't always possible. Anything I can make ahead and have the kids grab on their way out the door is a win. The whole “busy family” thing sounds so cliche, but it's really true!
How to keep the filling in the bar
The biggest trick with baking these bars is keeping the filling from leaking out onto the baking sheet during baking. First, know that some filling will most likely leak out.
Preserves are relatively thick, as far as jams and jellies go, but they still melt in the oven. I've got some tricks for keeping the filling inside the bars, though.
Keeping the shaped and filled bars cold before baking will help quite a lot. The longer the dough itself takes to spread at all in the oven, the better.
As written, the recipe makes a relatively stiff dough, which helps to lock in the filling. You don't want the dough to be so stiff that it's a struggle to knead or roll it out. But if you keep it from being too soft, it will help do its job better.
Finally, this recipe was originally published on the blog in 2012, when my youngest was only 7. That has nothing to do with keeping the filling in the bars. I just wanted to show her to you wearing a sweet tie-dyed dress, holding her very first Nutri-Grain bar in her little 7-year-old hands ?…
Ingredients and substitutions
I've tried my hand at some of these ingredient substitutions. Others are just my best-educated guesses…
Dairy-free: To make this recipe dairy-free, you need to replace both the nonfat dry milk and the yogurt. I've replaced the nonfat dry milk successfully with powdered coconut milk (Native Forest is a good brand), and the for the yogurt I've used plain coconut milk yogurt. Both were easy, successful substitutes.
Egg-free: There's only one egg in this recipe, and it really does help hold the ingredients together. But it could probably be replaced with a “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel).
Oat-free: In the U.S., there are certified gluten free oats that are grown on dedicated fields. We use them all the time. I buy them as whole rolled oats and grind them in a blender or food processor a bit for “quick oats” and more fully for oat flour.
If you can't or would rather not have oats for any reason, though, they can be replaced in gluten free baking. Click through that link to read all about my suggestions for replacing each grind of oats. The short answer is that the oat flour should be replaced with quinoa flakes and the old-fashioned oats with beaten rice.
If you'd like an oat-free version of breakfast bars, try my homemade cereal bars. They're made with crisp rice cereal instead of any form of oats, and they're a family favorite, too.
Sugar-free: I haven't tried making this recipe without the 3/4 cup of granulated sugar or the regular strawberry preserves. If you'd like to make the recipe with unrefined sugars, you can try replacing the granulated sugar with coconut palm sugar (just grind it into a finer powder first) and be sure to use no sugar added preserves.
To make the recipe sugar free entirely, you can try replacing the granulated sugar with Swerve brand granulated sugar substitute. Those sugar substitutes tend to be drying, though, so you'll almost certainly need to add more water to bring the dough together. The preserve filling can be replaced with sugar-free preserves.
Gluten Free Breakfast Bars | A Nutri-Grain Style Recipe
2 cups (280 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter), plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
1/4 cup (36 g) cornstarch
6 tablespoons (36 g) nonfat dry milk
1 cup (120 g) certified gluten free oat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup (75 g) certified gluten free old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (114 g) plain yogurt, at room temperature (sour cream will also work)
2 tablespoons (28 g) neutral oil (like canola, grapeseed, or sunflower oil)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 egg (50 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten
1/4 cup (2 ounces) lukewarm water, plus more as necessary
6 ounces seedless strawberry preserves
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.
In a large bowl, place the flour, cornstarch, nonfat dry milk, oat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, oats and sugar, and whisk to combine well. Create a well in the center of the ingredients in the bowl and add the yogurt, oil, vanilla, egg, and water, and mix to combine. If necessary to bring the dough together without crumbling, add more water by the teaspoonful. The dough will be sticky and somewhat stiff, but not dry. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll it out into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Using a sharp knife or pastry wheel, trim any rough edges of the dough and cut out 4-inch squares, gathering and rerolling scraps as necessary.
To shape the bars, place about 2 tablespoons of strawberry preserves down the center third of each square of dough, and fold the ends over each other to cover the filling. Pinch the ends of each bar together to seal. Place the shaped bars about 2 inches apart from one another on the prepared baking sheet. Place in the freezer or refrigerator to chill until firm. This will help prevent the filling from leaking out of the dough during baking.
Remove the baking sheet from the refrigerator or freezer, and place it in the center of the preheated oven. Bake until the bars are very lightly golden brown and slightly darker around the edges, about 15 minutes. Allow the bars to cool on the baking sheet until firm. If any filling has leaked out (and likely some will), once it’s cool, the preserves can be peeled off the parchment paper.
Originally published on the blog in 2012. Recipe modified and published on page 221 of in Gluten Free Classic Snacks; photos mostly new, video new in 2018.