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.