Idiot-Proof Healthy Chocolate Chip Oat Bars

How do I know these one-bowl, hassle-free chocolate chip oat bars are idiot-proof? Please refer to the visual aid below…

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I made them. Me. In my current mental and emotional state of nervous wretchedness. And I’ve even started referring to myself in the plural first-person. And writing in fragments. Like Yoda, I is. But I still managed to make these without starting a local apocalypse. So. That’s how I know.

Some days I almost wish that was a joke.

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On the morning I baked these, I was not looking forward to baking. I had been in my brand spankin’ new apartment for exactly 2 weeks, gone through about 5 months’ worth of groceries and pantry items in that time to ‘fuel’ my studying brain, and had a mock exam for these coming up in 5 days. You could hardly find a less happy camper if you walked barefoot clear across the Alps in the middle of January looking for one. And the very last thing I wanted to do five days before my mock was trip into the precarious kitchen to bake instead of read about Romantic Irony, and to fuel my tummy pooch wayyy more than my noggin. And then the photographs. And then the editing. And then the inevitable snacking. Ugh. 

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But I had to make something as a thank-you for some friends who had helped me with moving, and so when I fumbled my way across Tieghan’s post from Half-Baked Harvest advertising that these bars were delicious AND idiot-proof (her phrase! Isn’t it such a hook?), I could almost hear the despair melting away like so many sunbathing snowmen.

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And I have wonderful news: these bars are really, truly, honest-to-madness idiot-proof. They’re perfectly chewy, crumbly, oaty, chocolatey, cinnamony–and did I mention healthy?–all at the same time. Oil only, folks–no butter here! Did I mention that my friends could not stop eating them and positively raved about them after the pan had been licked crumb-clean? And all at no additional cost to my sanity. I love it.

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Compared to making traditional bar cookies, these take zero thought and significantly less active time to throw together. Glutens? Don’t mind them. Overbaking? Not a chance. Even the dishes are easier to do after whipping a batch up, since the thick oat-y batter barely leaves a smidge on your mixing bowl! (And thankfully for me, this also meant I didn’t ‘have to’ lick the bowl afterwards, which saved me from another drastic snacking spree.) Yep, these were bars to feel good about when I had very else little about which I could feel good.

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The good news is that today is the fifth day since I made these bars–and I can satisfactorily report that I took my first mock exam this afternoon! It was an extraordinarily nerve-wracking experience, but after we finished, it felt surprisingly reassuring to know I survived it…and with affirmation from someone who was not the second voice in my head, too. If you’ve ever read or listened to The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch says that the lead-up to his qualifying exam was the second-most stressful period in his life. The first was leukemia. I can’t corroborate that last statement, thankfully, but I sure as heck cannot wait for this exam to be (hopefully successfully) done next month. 

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In the meantime, I’m going to make me some more of these bars. And hopefully offer some better proof that I’m not a complete idiot–yet…

Ala

Idiot-Proof Healthy Chocolate Chip Oat Bars

(Slightly adapted from Half-Baked Harvest)
Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups oats, old-fashioned or quick-cooking (I used the latter and they worked fine)
  • 2 cups flour (the original calls for 1 cup APF and 1 cup wheat flour; I used 2 cups APF)
  • 1 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup canola oil OR coconut oil, melted
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, throw in ALL ingredients except the chocolate chips. Seriously. Just do it and mix away until a dough pulls together.
  3. Mix in your chocolate chips. Sha-bam! Done.
  4. Shove it all in your prepared pan. Like, evenly and stuff. Sprinkle more chocolate chips on top if you feel like it, because you’re a grown-up and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise unless you’re not one, in which case pretend you are one while you’re making these. You can wear shocking red high-heels in the kitchen to facilitate this process.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until bars are lightly golden on top and they seem just slightly doughy–then pull them out and let them cool on the stovetop for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Cut these crumbly, chewy babies into squares, or just attack them with your fork. I did.
  7. Leave Ala a comment below to let her know that she doesn’t sound completely idiotic (yet). :) Enjoy!

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18 Comments

Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Bars, Cookies

18 Responses to Idiot-Proof Healthy Chocolate Chip Oat Bars

  1. kitchenriffs

    Romantic irony? Better you than me! Actually, if I understand the term properly — and I probably don’t! — this post is kinda sorta romantic irony. Kinda. And really sorta. ;-) Fun read. And because it’s idiot-proof, you’re certainly talking to at least this particular segment of your audience. ;-)

    • Achieving a higher sort of artistic grace by acknowledging the chaotic irreconciliability of the universe–yes, I guess you could say that of this blog post, haha! I doubt you could compete with some recent idiot things I’ve done recently, but I bet you’d love these anyway!

  2. huntfortheverybest

    they look delish!

  3. I can’t wait to try the recipe, but what really tickles me is your writing!! and photos!! Thanks for making me laugh. repeatedly.

    • Nicole, you are so sweet–I love reading all comments, but writing is my favorite part of blogging so it tickles-me-mahogany whenever a lovely reader like yourself mentions it. Thanks for stopping by and making my day–hope to see you around soon for more laughs!

  4. These bars look great! I love that they’re healthy…that means I can have two, right? ;)

  5. Yum!!!!! These are EXACTLY what I need (NEED!) right now. Some oat-y, melty chocolate chip-studded goodness. Thank goodness they’re idiot-proof because I’ve been wandering around in a sleep-deprived, rather idiotic state this week ;)

    Good luck on your exam!!!

  6. I sure love idiot-proof recipes. I’ll take your word for it on these! They look so tasty. If only my kitchen were in order…

  7. P.s. Your “just add cornstarch” line made me smile.

  8. Hey there! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a
    quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy reading your articles.
    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover
    the same topics? Thanks a lot!

  9. Congrats on the new domain!! I’ve been wanting to change my name but I am TERRIFIED! I am so beyond impressed by your visual recipe index. HTML code and I aren’t that good of friends.

    On a side note – these bars look fabulous! I am obsessing! Pinned!

    • Wow, thanks Lindsey! You should definitely do it ;) It took serious considerations of how my website layout and domain would affect my motivation to write to get me to take the plunge, but I’m so glad I did! What were you thinking of changing your name to? (I think it’s great as is, but I’m curious about what you have in mind!) Thank you for stopping by and reading–and yes, that visual recipe index took foreverrr, but I’d like to post a tutorial soon on how I did it fairly easily, even as a non-HTML girl ;)

  10. Anna

    These were extremely bland and dry. No flavor whatsoever, and not even remotely appetizing. I followed the recipe to a t, so I don’t know if I did something wrong, but they were awful. I’m never making these again!

    • Hi Anna–first off, I’m sorry these did not turn out for you. I have used this recipe multiple times with great results, and both readers and friends have reported back with similar success. Though it sounds like you may not be inclined towards a second trial, I hope you do figure out what went amiss if you do try these again–I would love to hear what happened. Best, Ala

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