Judging from the sudden invasion of pumpkins and squashes of all kinds on my counter, it may be time to admit that it is no longer summer (contrary to my claim a few days ago that summer was still alive and well!)
I guess it’s time to admit defeat with Thanksgiving literally around the corner. Luckily I have a food antidote to combat those hankering-for-fall, pumpkin-obsessed cravings (I know I get them as soon as the wind picks up, the weather starts to turn brisk and the leaves start dropping off the trees in a beautiful but big mess).
The solution? These Chewy Pumpkin Spice Oat Bars! If crispy granola bars and soft fruit bars had a baby, it might look something like this: a chewy, nutty and hearty bar packed with seasonal fall ingredients like freshly roasted sweet pumpkin, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and warming ginger and cinnamon spices. If you could eat a season, these bars would taste like fall in your mouth.
These are a healthy and filling treat. Pumpkin seeds—which also go by the romantic nickname of pepitas—are rich in zinc (an important mineral for the immune system), magnesium, phosphorus, and tryptophan. The fresh pumpkin boasts vitamins A, C and several B vitamins, and fiber like its other fruit and vegetable friends. Its characteristic orange/yellow colour also daringly hints at its impressive beta-carotene content. These bars are nicely spiced and not overly sweet, making them an ideal grab-and-go breakfast. I prefer bars that are a little less sweet, so the seasonal flavours can really shine through. And these do. They are also gluten-free and vegan friendly (meaning they can easily be made vegan with a simple sugar swap for the honey – such as maple syrup, brown rice syrup, Yacon syrup, etc.)
Here’s how to make them:
Chewy Pumpkin Spice Oat Bars
- WET ingredients
- 1 cup freshly roasted sugar pumpkin
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons honey or other liquid sweetener if you’re vegan
- 2 tablespoons ground flax + 6 Tb water
- DRY ingredients
- 1 ½ cups rolled oats
- ¼ cup raw unshelled pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup walnuts coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup raisins
- ½ tablespoon ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp sea salt
Mix the flax and water in a small bowl and set aside. This is a substitute for any eggs and acts to bind the bars together in this recipe.
In the bowl of a food processor, add all wet ingredients, including the flax and water mixture, and pulse until smooth.
In a medium bowl, mix all dry ingredients together.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix just to combine.
Pour this into a greased 8 x 8 pan and cook at 375° for 20-25 minutes, until the edges start to turn slightly brown and pull away from the sides of the pan. My version makes a chewy bar but you can cook this a few minutes longer for a slightly crisper bar.
Once baked, take these out of the oven and let them cool for about 10 minutes. Cut them into bars and place on a wire rack to finish cooling and setting up.
Enjoy. These are especially delicious with homemade almond milk. Yum, a perfectly portable 3 p.m. afternoon snack!
Life is a plate… eat up!