Every time I go home to spend time with the fam in the burbs (about once a month or so), I always “go shopping” in my mom’s refrigerator and pantry – hey, I’m a girl on a budget!
Last time I visited, I returned with an abundance of cherries, soon realizing that I would never be able eat the overflowing bowl before they went bad.
First instinct? Let’s bake!
A quick search on one of my go-to recipe creator’s website (Ambitious Kitchen) led me to just the thing I needed to make use of those cherries. As I usually do, I made a few adjustments of my own, and was totally happy with the results! The original recipe is fabulous, I just didn’t happen to have a few of the ingredients on hand, so I improvised 🙂 I had a few less cherries than needed, subbed the coconut sugar for Truvia brown sugar baking blend, subbed Lakanto syrup for the maple syrup, and utilized chia seeds instead of cornstarch for the cherry filling. The cornstarch is used as a thickening agent, but since chia seeds naturally add volume when they absorb moisture (from the cherries!), it worked as a great sub and actually adds some nutritional value!
With Fall approaching, my mind quickly diverts to yummy breads as we start to get prepped for the season, but these Cherry Chia Oat Bars are the perfect transitional treat between Summer and Fall. These bars are gluten free, dairy free and can be made vegan!
- For the crust and crumble topping:
- 1 ½ cups gluten-free oat flour
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, gluten free if desired
- 1/4 Truvia Brown Sugar Blend (½ cup coconut sugar or brown sugar in original recipe)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter or vegan buttery stick, melted (I used Earthbalance)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- For the filling:
- 2 1/2 heaping cups cherries (I used fresh, but can also use frozen)
- 3 tablespoons Lakanto Syrup (original recipe calls for pure maple syrup)
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds (original recipe calls for 1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot starch, plus 1-2 teaspoons more if necessary)
- ⅛ teaspoon almond extract
- Pinch of salt
I’ve edited the original instructions as I followed them for my substitutions, but for more detailed and original instructions, please visit Ambitious Kitchen! So much praise for this lady.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and set a 8×8 pan aside, spread for non-stick!
- Make the base and topping: In a large bowl, use a fork to mix together the oat flour, oats, coconut sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Add in melted butter, vanilla extract and almond extract and stir until a nice crumble forms and dough begins to clump together. Place 1 ½ cups of the mixture into the prepared pan and place the remaining mixture into the fridge (the remaining mixture will be used for the topping). Use your hands to evenly press the dough to the bottom of the pan.
- Next make your cherry pie filling: place a medium pot over medium heat. Add in cherries, Lakanto Syrup, almond extract, chia seeds and salt. Use a wooden spoon to press down and break down the cherries just a bit. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook for 5 more minutes until mixture is thickened up and nicely coats the back of a spoon without being too drippy. Pour mixture over the crust and use a spoon to evenly spread.
- Take the remaining topping out of the fridge and sprinkle the topping over the cherry filling. Bake for 30 minutes or until filling is bubbly and topping is golden. Allow bars to cool completely before transferring to the fridge. Bars are delicious served at room temperature or straight out of the fridge – these made the BEST pre-workout snacks!
For 1 slice of 12:
Calories: 158 | Fat: 9.1g | Carbs: 19.5g | Fiber: 4.8g | Sugars: 5.1g | Protein: 2.5g
Comment below if you try – would love to hear your thoughts!