“Dumb Starbucks” Oat Bars

I am supremely lazy in the morning. Truly. I am somewhat gifted at staying in bed until the very last possible minute and my morning routine is timed down to a science with no room for error. I don’t wake up, stretch, and pad downstairs to make a pot of coffee and a mushroom omelet. I don’t read the newspaper with a tall glass of orange juice and I couldn’t tell you the name of a single morning show host. I might not be able to name a single morning show, for that matter. Which means, obviously, that if I haven’t pre-packed breakfast the night before then I will be so hungry that I will surely perish (or eat the entire contents of my desk) by 10 am.

For the days when a quick exit is required but I still need sustenance that is grab-and-go, I like to have a batch of something home baked, nourishing and nutrient dense on hand. That used to mean an epically huge batch of crumbly peanut butter and fruit granola bars, protein rich quinoa and coconut bars, or powerhouse raisin and oatmeal (and chickpea and duplicity) breakfast cookies. However, sometimes I want something that’s just simple and hearty on hand, and that’s when I make classic oat bars.

These oatmeal treats are not a thick and cakey or crumbly baked oatmeal (like all the delicious looking recipes for baked oatmeal that are so prevalent on the interwebs right now, and each of which I want to eat right now), but really more of a classic oat formed oat cake. In fact, the flavour and texture are quite similar to one of my husband’s favourites, the Starbuck’s Oat Bar.  So much so that when he first tried them he exclaimed, “Oh, you were trying to make a copy cat of the Starbucks bar?”

Nope. Not quite. However, since that’s roughly how they taste, I might as well just go with it.

As a huge fan of any kind of scandal, I quickly dubbed these the “Dumb Starbucks” oat bars; they are as close as I can come to a copy in good conscience. The main differences are;

1. They are thinner and smaller. A lot smaller. You don’t want to have a Starbucks’ size portion of these and you won’t need one.

2. They aren’t quite as sweet. You will take these for breakfast, not dessert, if you know what I mean.

3. You can make the whole batch for the price of one regular Starbucks Oat Bar.

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Choosy Beggars’ Oat Bars

Makes 16 smallish squares

  • 4 cups quick cooking oats, divided in half
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted *
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla

* I sometimes cook with coconut oil because I like the flavour, and truthfully because it’s so super-trendy that I peer-pressured myself into going there. However, if you prefer, feel free to use soft (not melted) unsalted butter and work it into the ground oats by hand until it feels crumbly.

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Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease an 8×8 square baking pan.

Add half of the oats (2 cups) to a food processor along with the cinnamon and salt. Whizz until they look ground, like a coarse oat flour.

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Drizzle in the coconut oil, water, yogurt, honey and vanilla.

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Process the mixture until it is evenly combined.

Add the remaining (2 cups) oats and pulse several times, just until the mixture is combined — do not over blend. Alternatively, you could stir these in by hand so that the oats completely retain their size and texture, but who wants to dirty up another bowl?

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Press the oat mixture firmly into the greased baking pan. Smooth out the top as much as possible and make sure that the thickness is as uniform as possible. I like to do this by pressing down with another 8×8 pan and then smoothing the top edges with water-moistened hands.

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Bake the squares in the center of your preheated oven for 17-20 minutes, or just until the edges are golden brown.

Let the pan cool completely before cutting into squares using a sharp knife.

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The squares are not too sweet and although they’re tender they are also densely satisfying, which is why one square, an apple and a yogurt cup might be the perfect breakfast or hearty afternoon snack.

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These are also a great snack to have around for those times when you have to bolt without a meal and you know that you’re going to be eating in the car with one hand, or stuffing two bites worth of nourishment into your mouth between meetings. And you know what? They do the trick. So, just like the clever pop-up, maybe these aren’t so dumb after all, and

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  • Alison

    These look delicious! I don’t have quick cooking oats though. Have you tried steel cut with this recipe? Also, do they freeze well?

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      Hi Alison,
      If you don’t have quick cooking oats, any rolled oat (traditional or large flake) will work.

      Somebody else messaged me a question about steel cut, and although I didn’t think it would work out as well, I gave it a shot anyway. Nothing ventured, and all that! When I tried making these bars with steel cut oats I ground 3 cups and only added 1 cup of “whole” oats to the dough. The mixture didn’t absorb the liquid in the same way so the bars ended up feeling really “wet” when they went in the oven, they baked unevenly, and the end result was underwhelming. The steel cut oats stayed really firm and chewy which was not a texture that I enjoyed at all. I wouldn’t recommend using them for this application.

      And yes, they freeze beautifully!