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Toasted whole grain oats, dried fruits and nuts combine for a wonderfully chewy, crunchy treat perfect for lunch boxes or an anytime snack. I’ve posted many fruit and nut recipes over the years and love each and every one. This recipe is no exception. They are hearty, and chewy, and sweet. I wanted a little something special this week especially since all the Easter egg macarons were whisked away before I could eat more than one, okay maybe two (do I hear three?)
One of the very best things about being a cook or baker (and blogger) is being inspired to try new products. I often look for ways to substitute healthier alternatives for things like butter and granulated sugar. I’ve been using a lot of coconut oil in my baking lately and thought I would try this coconut sugar too. I am super pleased with how these turned out and since I have a nice big-bag, you’ll probably see more recipes using coconut sugar. Coconut sugar may not be healthy per se, but it is lower on the glycemic index than regular sugar. Zero sugar would be better of course but where’s the fun in that? If you want to substitute butter for the coconut oil and brown or granulated sugar for the coconut sugar in this recipe – I think that would be perfectly wonderful.
In a large mixing bowl combine the fruit and I also threw in the pepitas since they were already roasted. My thoughtful daughter gave me this wonderful wooden spoon as a gift. Having a blog opens up lots of gift possibilities and my family has fully embraced it!
Combine brown rice syrup, coconut sugar, sea salt, coconut oil and coconut almond butter. Feel free to substitute regular almond butter or even peanut butter if you prefer, this is an easily adaptable recipe that is hard to mess up. I’m loving the No Stir Coconut Almond Butter from MaraNatha these days. Great flavor! Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for about 1 minute then pour over the fruit and nuts. Stir until everything is well blended and coated in the syrup.
Press the mixture into an 8×8 inch baking pan lined with parchment paper. Lay a piece of parchment or wax paper on top and press down firmly until it is evenly distributed and lightly packed. I sprinkled a little unsweetened coconut on top as an after-thought – but it would be fine without.
Chewy Fruit & Nut Bars with Toasted Oats
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, or unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups Old Fashioned oats
- 1/4 cup roasted pepitas
- 3/4 cup whole unsalted almonds
- 1/2 cup whole unsalted cashews
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots, about 12-14
- 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
- 1/4 cup coconut almond butter, or regular almond butter or peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar, may substitute light brown sugar
- dash sea salt
- 2-3 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut, optional topping or add-in
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with parchment paper leaving enough to hand over the side.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the fruit and any roasted nuts and set aside.
- Combine the oats and any raw nuts (almond and cashews) and place on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly toasted. Cool slightly then add to the dried fruits.
- In a small saucepan combine the coconut oil, brown rice syrup, almond butter, coconut sugar and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until it begins to simmer. Cook for 1 minute then remove from the heat and pour over the oats and nut mixture.
- Stir well to combine then press into the prepared pan. Lay a piece of parchment or wax paper on top and gently press until it is evenly distributed and lightly packed. Top with unsweetened shredded coconut if desired.
- Refrigerate for 1 hour then cut into 25-30 pieces. Store in an airtight container.
Happy Easter to you and your family. We plan to do some Easter egg hunting with our grandson Isaac – so stay tuned for pictures 🙂 And if the weather holds we will put our kayaks in the water for the first time since last fall. Maybe the fish will bite! Thanks so much for stopping by!