Summer is (almost) here although we’ve been declaring it for the past month. I welcomed June with an Instagram post of pretty sunflowers spotted while on my morning run. I have resumed a mild form of running; it’s been 6 weeks post-surgery and my pants feel a bit tighter…. Running clears my mind and I try to go every morning or every evening with good ol’ Gizmo, my loyal canine companion who has plenty of energy to spare. I know I have picked up the pace because half the time I return home holding Giz in my arms like a baby. Well, there’s advantages to it…. I guess it’s like running while holding 15 pound weights. The little stinker will give out on the pavement knowing that I will give in and pick him up. He loves to be held in my arms while I run, it’s almost like I can spot a smirk on him.
Anywho… These delicious squares are like oatmeal to go and have been saving my life both pre and post run. And just at any time of day, pretty much. Except these snacks are unprocessed and packed with whole, delicious foods. Think creamy all-natural peanut butter which could be easily substituted for sunflower butter to make them lunchbox friendly. Yes, 99% of schools in Canada and the United States have a no-peanut policy. And then I went to town with all the fresh, seasonal blueberries currently available to us during the summer time. I made deliciously thick refined sugar free jam using the same measurements I used for my strawberry chia jam. It’s also pectin free, because chia acts like a natural thickener and holds the entire thing together. And oats. The goodness of old-fashioned rolled oats that are gluten free and haven’t been cross-contaminated.
You’re totally starting to get the idea; raw oats, coconut oil, nut butter, homemade jam and a crispy oat topping where you can go to town with your toppings of choice. It can’t possibly be bad. It’s fool-proof GOOD and so addictive. Easy to bake & so convenient to carry around. Basically ALL the things we need them to be. They’re also vegan & dairy free, egg free, refined sugar free and of course, gluten free! So here we go… A super similar recipe to the strawberry almond butter bars albeit with a few modifications. Enjoy!!
Peanut Butter & Blueberry Oat Squares
For the Base
- 2 cups + 2 tbsp of gluten free oats of your choice ( I love Bob’s Red Mill)
- 1/3 cup organic coconut oil
- 1/2 cup unsweetened all-natural peanut butter (or sunflower butter* if there’s a peanut allergy.
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or 1/4 cup of raw agave
For the Filling
- 2 cups of fresh, never frozen blueberries
- 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice (Meyer lemons are the best!)
- 1 tsp of pure vanilla or almond extract
- 2 tbsp of pure maple syrup or raw agave. You could do 3 tbsp for a sweeter palate.
- 2 tbsp of chia seeds
If you don’t feel like making your own jam, I enjoy Crofter’s organic, no sugar added blueberry jam. A medium/large size jar would do.
For the Topping
- 1/4 cup of hemp hearts for protein and healthy fats
- a handful of blueberries (more blueberries never hurts!)
- 1/3 cup hazelnuts, sliced almonds or pecans
- 1/4 cup of raw old fashioned rolled oats
The toppings are entirely your choice! You could also attempt raw cacao nibs, mulberries, dark chocolate shavings, walnuts- whatever you like.
I like to make the blueberry chia seed jam in advance so I can refrigerate it; and it can thicken & set overnight. I tried this recipe with freshly made jam and it also worked. But If the jam had set, it would be even better! Remember this jam is pectin and cornstarch free and we use chia seeds as a binder.
- Place the 2 cups of rinsed blueberries in a pot over medium heat. Mash them up with a large fork, spoon or potato masher. They need to get sirupy and disintegrate.
Squeeze the 1 tbsp of lemon juice to bring out their flavor, add the maple syrup and pure vanilla extract. Stir well and cook for about 3 minutes over low heat. Add the 2 tbsp of chia seed and stir well again. Cook for another 5 minutes in medium to low heat. Turn it off and allow it to cool & thicken for at least 5 minutes.
- At this point, turn the oven on to 325 F and line a medium baking pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix 2 cups of oats with the peanut butter, coconut oil and pure maple syrup. You can throw in a pinch of cinnamon or pure vanilla powder (love this stuff!) and it adds really nice flavor. Up to you. Mix well with clean hands to form a smooth paste (almost like a dough). Press the oat mixture evenly onto the pan and press down on it with your palms. Sprinkle the 2 tbsp of remaining oats to seal any moisture if it seems drippy.
- Using a spatula, spread the blueberry chia seed jam evenly over the base.
- And now sprinkle the topping over the blueberry chia seed jam. It doesn’t have to be heavy, the aim is to cover the jam so it’s sandwiched in between two delicious layers and you get a crunch at the top.
- Bake for about 25-30 minutes at 325 F. All ovens vary. Allow to cool completely before cutting them into squares. Always keep them refrigerated in an airtight container to preserve the jam. Enjoy them!! They’re packed with goodness.