Saturday, January 31, 2015

Apple Cinnamon Squares [Recipe]

I am always on the look for healthy breakfast recipes that can be made ahead of time. I also love recipe that can be adjusted based on ingredients I have on hand. I like it when I can customize recipes if I am in the mood for a specific flavor.

Apple Cinnamon Squares are a great combination of a hot, oven baked oatmeal and granola bars that can be taken on the go. You can substitute additions (other dried berries, nuts, seeds, etc.) to change the flavor profile. The ground flax seed and the chia seeds (you can use one or the other or both) are the ingredients that hold the squares together. Make sure you use ground flax seeds, not whole flax seeds.

Note: steel cut oats retain their crunchiness when baked. For softer Apple Cinnamon Squares, combine the milk and oats in a bowl. Soak in the fridge for several hours or overnight to soften the oats up before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Apple Cinnamon Squares

Dairy-free (sub a nut milk), vegan (sub dairy-free milk), vegetarian, nut-free (omit nuts)

Yield: 16 servings
Bake time: 1 hour

2 cups whole milk (can sub dairy-free milk)
1.5 cup steel cut oats
1/2 chopped pecans (can sub other chopped nuts)
1/2 cup raisins (can sub other chopped dried fruit)
1/4 cup ground flax seeds (can sub 1/4 cup chia seeds)
1/4 cup chia seeds (can sub 1/4 cup ground flax seed)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 pound apples, cored and grated (recommend Pink Lady apples)

Other Additions (some or all)
Hemp protein powder (1-2 tbsp)
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp clove powder

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Line a 9" square baking dish parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. If pre-soaking the oats, then add all ingredients to that bowl.
  4. Transfer to baking dish, spreading out and smoothing the top.
  5. Bake for about 1 hour until the top is firm and golden brown. Depending on the baking dish, the taller the height of the contents, the longer it will take to bake.
  6. Place pan on wire rack and let cool. 
  7. Cut into 16 bars. Can serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe adapted from Whole Foods Market.

The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of ground flax to provide the binding agent that holds these bars together. I received a bag of Nutrigold Organic Chia Seeds, so I decided to substitute chia seeds for ground flax. I used 1/4 cup of ground flax and 1/4 cup of chia seeds. Chia seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, dietary fiber and are a great natural source of many minerals. Their nutritional profile and use in baking is similar to ground flax (flax meal).

I use chia seeds in many dishes, mostly baked items and oatmeal. I love that they can be used as thickeners or sprinkled on top to boost nutrition of the food I am eating. While they usually retain a little bit of their seedy crunch, I liked that I barely noticed them in the Apple Cinnamon Squares. Chia seeds are small and do not really have a flavor to them. Therefore, they are a great way to make meals and baked goods even healthier. Choose raw and organic chia seeds for maximum health benefit.

Disclosure: This recipe was originally posted on All Natural Katie. I received a sample of the product to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received. This post contains Affiliate links at no cost to you. If you purchase through the link, I receive small compensation to help support this blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions are my own.

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