Strawberry season in the Mid-Atlantic — although fleeting, it always leaves me with excitement for more of summer’s candy to come: blueberries, wild raspberries, and my most beloved, the peach! So while I do cherish the early red berries, admittedly I get more excited for what’s to follow, and the indication that my favorite season is only just beginning.
garden bouquet: summer lettuces and berries
My go-to recipe to highlight the local strawberries for the past few years has been this: an oat square that reminds me of my good old Nutri-Grain bar, but much more hearty and wholesome with fresh-from-the-fields strawberry jam slathered and baked right on top. They’re also vegan, and interestingly made with chia seeds as a thickener in the jam and as an egg-replacer in the dough. Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber, protein, antioxidants, calcium, omega-3, and pure energy! I also like the seedy texture it gave to the jam — i love jam with chunks of fruit and seeds :)
Fresh-picked strawberries ripen fast and need to be put to use, so if you’re looking for a healthy treat or a sweet and wholesome breakfast to use up those buckets of fruit, give these bars a try.
Healthy Strawberry Oat Squares, from Oh She Glows
for oat base:
- 1.5 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup whole-grain flour
- 1/2 t baking soda
- 1/2 t sea salt
- 1/2 cup Sucanat sugar (unrefined cane sugar) or brown sugar
- 1 chia egg (1 T chia seeds+ 4 T warm water, mixed)
- 1/2 cup + 2 T Earth Balance, melted
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 T almond milk (cow or soy milk works too)
- 1 T sesame seeds or shredded coconut (for topping)
for strawberry jam:
- 2 + 1/4 cups chopped strawberries, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2-3 T sugar, to taste
- 1 T chia seeds
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a square pan (I used a 9×9) with parchment paper and oil the sides of the pan and base. In a medium sized pot, add the chopped strawberries and sugar. Heat over low until the strawberries begin to sweat and it gets a bit watery. Once it heats down a bit, add in the chia seeds, and stir well. Bring to a boil and then simmer over low to medium heat for at least 10 minutes. Once it has thickened a bit, remove from heat and cool for 5-10 mins.
In a small bowl, mix the chia egg and set aside. In a large bowl, mix the oat base dry ingredients: oats, flour, sugar, baking soda, salt. In a small bowl, mix the melted earth balance, maple syrup, almond milk, and chia egg. Stir well. Add the wet mixture (reserving 1/2 cup of the mixture) to the dry and mix well, using hands if necessary. Pour the oat mixture onto the square pan and press down with fingers. Use a pastry roller to smooth out if desired. Pour on strawberry mixture and smooth out. Now sprinkle on the reserved 1/2 cup oat mixture. Sprinkle on 1 T sesame seeds or coconut. Bake at 350F for approximately 30 minutes. Allow to fully cool for at least 30-40 minutes before gently removing from pan. Slice and then store in a container in the fridge to keep firm.
The pup wants to be included in this berry action :)
I find these bars to be a perfect way of preserving the buckets of berries I pick that all ripen at the same time and go bad within hours, it seems. And you can bet I’ll be trying this recipe out with blueberries, raspberries and peaches when the time comes. I can’t wait!
Enjoy, and happy berry season!!