These Banana Date Oatmeal Bars have been on my mind to make for weeks. While we do love our big ol’ bowls of oatmeal in the mornings, I’ve been wanting to give my little man some variety, as well as more finger foods. These are what I dreamt up!Like all new moms, I’m a little neurotic. And even though food is kinda “my thing,” I still wonder sometimes if I’m doing well enough when it comes to feeding my son. The imaginary conversations I have with him regarding what I’m serving go something like this:
“Ma, I’m bored with oatmeal. I have it EVERY morning.”
“Bored?! But I put so much fun stuff in it and change it up for you all the time!”
“Yeah, but it’s still just a bowl of mush. Sometimes it’s pumpkin-apple-almond mush, other times it’s banana-flax-cashew mush, and you seem to feel really proud of yourself when you make me cherry-chia-coconut mush, but Ma, mush is mush!”
“You’ve only been eating food for like 4 month now! I’ve eaten oatmeal for breakfast every morning for YEARS at a time.”
“That’s great, Ma. I’m really impressed with your complacent breakfast style, but I’m not you, and I need more. I’m dyin’ for some texture here!”
I’m sot sure when my darling baby boy became an Italian-American used car salesman in New Jersey, but that’s the voice he has in my head during these “conversations.” I’m only going to get crazier, aren’t I? *sigh* I blame the severe sleep deprivation.
Anyhow… so were born these Banana Date Oatmeal Bars. They’re sweet, chewy, packed full of nutrients, and seriously tasty! I’ve eaten just as many as the little duder. What?! We “share.” My husband even took some to work and they were a hit amongst his buddies. They’re vegan and refined sugar-free. In fact, they’re sweetened only with fruit, but you’d never guess. They’re made of all real-food ingredients, so I feel really good about feeding them to my son. I have yet to find a pre-packaged baby snack bar/cookie/cracker option that is free of funky ingredients and added salt or sugar. These mini bars provide a little fiber, plant-based protein, and healthy fat to start the day or give you and your little one a boost between meals. If you’ve got a picky eater on your hands who maybe doesn’t like the texture of oatmeal, these are nutrient-dense and a great vehicle for delivering essential macro- and micro-nutrients in just a few bites. For my nursing mamas, these bars are full of ingredients that are especially beneficial to you, perhaps most notably the oats, which are a very common galactagogue, said to help boost your breastmilk supply.
I use Bob’s Red Mill Quick Cooking Rolled Oats in this recipe. To make them gluten-free, simply sub gluten-free oats and flour. For the coconut oil, I use Dr. Bronner’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. I love their organic products, their message, and their ethics. As usual, I use organic for the rest of the ingredients, as well.
These oatmeal bars are easy to make and a totally pack-able snack for when you’re out and about. They’re the perfect size for little hands, too. Our little guy is 11 months old now and really prefers to take a more active role in feeding himself. This means lots more mess and meals that literally last like an hour, but it’s so worth it! Watching his chubby little hands grab pieces of food and maneuver them to his mouth is just about the cutest thing in the world.
Basically, what I’m saying is these bars are awesome and my new favorite thing. 😉 Enjoy!
- 6 dates, pitted
- 3 Tablespoons water reserved from soaking dates
- 1 cup quick cooking rolled oats*
- 1/2 cup oat flour
- 1 Tablespoon ground flaxseeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
- 1/3 cup almond butter**
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Put the dates in the water, and then turn off the heat. Allow the dates to soak for about 10 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine oats, oat flour, ground flaxseeds, and cinnamon. Mix these ingredients together.
- In a separate larger mixing bowl, combine the bananas, almond butter, vanilla extract, and coconut oil.
- Remove the softened dates from the hot water, and puree in a food processor with 3 Tablespoons of water from the pot. Add the date puree to the banana mixture.
- Add the dry oat mixture to the wet banana mixture, and stir to combine.
- Line an 8×8-inch baking tin with parchment paper, and pour the banana-oat mixture into the pan. Smooth with a spatula.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Remove baked oats from the pan, along with the parchment paper. Allow to cool on a cooling rack, and then cut evenly into 16 mini Banana Date Oatmeal Bars.
- *I used Bob’s Red Mill Quick Cooking Rolled Oats. To make these bars gluten-free, use gluten-free oats and flour.
- **If your baby is less than a year old and you’re trying to avoid added salt in his diet, choose almond butter that doesn’t have any added salt. It’s a good habit to check the ingredient list on your nut butters anyway because lots of them add sugar and/or partially hydrogenated oils. The ingredients should just read: “Almonds” or “Dry Roasted Peanuts,” for example.