I can't stand products at the grocery store that are obviously cashing in on the misconception that certain types of food are inhently healthy. Things like granola, granola bars, and yogurt loaded with so much sugar and filler that they end up being no better for you than a box of oreos. The products are always given super-healthy names and have little badges saying things like "all natural".
The opposite of these products are the super healthy recipes on the internet that have ultra decadent names they can never live up to. It's just a silly pet peeve of mine, and I know that it isn't doing anyone any harm (unlike when companies create unhealthy 'health' food) but I feel like we all know deep down inside that the 'cookies' made only from plain oats and mashed bananas wouldn't be welcome at most cookie swaps. The thing is, I'll make and eat those 'cookies' but I refuse to call them cookies. Because they aren't.
It's like there's one group of people eating dessert and pretending its health food, and another group of people eating health food and pretending its dessert.
So these bars are healthy, and they are tasty. But I stubbornly refuse to give them a dessert-sounding name (but feel free to rename them for yourself as 'soft cookie bars' or 'peanut butter banana bread granola bars' or whatever entices those around you to try them). To me, they will always be peanut butter banana oat bars.
They're a cross between a granola bar and baked oatmeal; soft and slightly chewy and studded with whatever add-ins strike your fancy. This version uses Peanut butter, cashews, coconut, chopped up walnuts, and banana to bind it and add some sweetness. The riper the bananas, the better your bars will taste. It's the perfect opportunity to dig up those old, black bananas from the back of your freezer.
The oats are the large flake or old fashioned kind. Don't use quick oats because they can't soak up as much of the banana and other ingredients and your bars will fall apart.
All the ingredients get mushed together in a bowl...
.. and pressed evenly in an 8x8 baking dish lined with parchment paper to ensure that the bars don't stick.
They are baked for 20 minutes and fill your whole house with that amazing 'baked bananas and cinnamon' scent.
I like smaller, snack sized bars so I cut the slab first into five equal strips, and then cut the strips in half to get ten bars.
The bars are hassle-free to make, customizable, and (unlike the most grocery store bars) are pretty good for you. And - just to clarify - they taste healthy too; Only mildly sweet, mostly nutty with a hint of oats and banana.
Soft Peanut Butter Banana Oat Bars
2 ripe bananas
1/2 cup peanut butter (the 100% natural unsweetened kind)
1/2 cup chopped roasted cashews
1/4 cup coconut
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup of old fashioned or large flake oats
preheat your oven to 350
1. mash the banana in a bowl. Stir in the rest of ingredients until combined well.
2. Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper (it helps to grease the pan a bit to get the parchment to stick to it.) Then spread the batter into an even layer with a spatula.
3. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until the edges are golden brown
4. Allow to cool completely before cutting into slices.